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Community based DRR and CCA Fortified Livelihood initiatives through Good Governance

 

Commenced in 2011

 

Partner organization: Christian Aid UK

 

Goal:

To promote sustainable development for the most vulnerable population through establishing linkage between disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and good governance.

 

Overview:

The IPCC has identified Bangladesh as one of the most vulnerable nations in the face of climate change. As the Himalayan glaciers melt, sea levels rise and unpredictable weather patterns ensue, Bangladesh is experiencing more frequent and intense cyclones, increased flooding and encroaching salinity. In the densely populated coastal communities, cyclones threaten lives, homes and land, while salinity is reducing the already inadequate fresh water supply and rendering traditional farming practices unviable.

 

The project seeks to promote sustainable development in the face of climate change, linking disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, sustainable livelihoods and good governance. The key techniques in this approach are community mobilization, capacity building, linking communities to government services, and establishing sustainable livelihood practices. The findings will be shared widely across the field of disaster management.

 

Six hundred of the poorest and most vulnerable households have been selected as beneficiaries. These households will benefit directly from asset transfer to help them switch to climate compatible livelihood options. The broader community will benefit from improved governance and formalized disaster risk reduction practices.

 

Intervention areas:

Nishanbaria and Khalia Unions of Morrelganj Upazila, Bagerhat District, Khulna Division, have been chosen as the intervention areas. Since 2009, BDPC has been working on a community-based cyclone shelter project in Morrelganj, in partnership with SDC, meaning that the situation and needs of the communities are well understood. Community Risk Assessments have provided further clarification of the needs of the target communities.

 

Morrelganj lies on the south coast of Bangladesh, adjacent to the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest. The area is frequently devastated by cyclones, storms and tidal surge and suffered extensive damage during Cyclone Sidr (2007) and Cyclone Alia (2009).

 

 

The process:

 

Community mobilisation

 The intervention areas, Nishanbaria Union and Khalia Union, are each divided into nine Wards. In each Ward, BDPC facilitated the election of three individuals, known as Change Agents (CAs) to lead change in their communities and the formation of a Ward Disaster Management Committee (WDMC). Wards are the lowest administrative divisions in Bangladesh and the only level without a government appointed Disaster Management Committee (DMC).

 

CAs must meet specific criteria to ensure that they are trusted and respected by the community. Likewise, WDMC formation follows a selection process which ensures that all sectors of the community are represented, from the elite to the most disadvantaged.

 

BDPC also assisted with the election of Upazila Facilitation Committees (UFCs). Upazilas are the third lowest level of governance and the level at which service providing agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health and the Department of Livestock, operate. The purpose of the UFCs is to liaise between local communities and the government service providing agencies. UFC members are chosen from the elite members of the Upazila proper (the central location from which services are administered, akin to the capital city). Only individuals who are already engaged in social work are eligible for selection. This ensures that UFC members have the engendered trust and respect of the surrounding communities, as well as the confidence, assertion and understanding to negotiate on their behalf.

 

Capacity building

The capacity building phase of the project involves change agents, project beneficiaries, WDMCs, UFCs and government agencies.

 

The government-appointed Union and Upazila Disaster Management Committees attended a workshop aimed at improving their capacity for managing disaster and will be given refresher sessions over the course of the project.

 

The Change Agents have attended comprehensive Training of the Trainer (ToT) sessions in Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation. This has provided them with the skills and knowledge to lead the capacity building process with the WDMCs and the project beneficiaries through annual workshops for the duration of the project. This serves to create a more efficient project, promote community ownership and develop the collective skills and abilities of the vulnerable communities.

 

Linking communities to government services

With assistance from BDPC, government service providing agencies will host “service orientations” for the project beneficiaries. These sessions will be tailored to the various livelihood groups (e.g. fishing households, agricultural households) and will be led by representatives from various government agencies, such as the Department of Livestock, Department of Fisheries and Department of Agriculture. Beneficiaries will be familiarized with the available government services and receive advice relevant to their livelihood groups.

 

Based on the findings of participatory Community Risk Assessments, BDPC will develop Local Disaster Risk Reduction Action Plans to be validated by the WDMCs. BDPC will then provide some monetary assistance and work with the UzDMC and UDMCs to implement the LDRRAP.

 

Asset transfer for sustainable livelihood practices at household level

A needs assessment will determine the most suitable income generating activities for the social, economic and environmental conditions. Possibilities include crop diversification; growth of saline tolerant rice varieties; homestead vegetable gardening; use of a new design of fishing boat, developed by the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET); and marketing assistance to sell hand woven fishing nets.

 

Sustainable livelihood practices at community level: Tree planting

Coastline vegetation was found to play a key role in protecting lives and livelihoods during Cyclone Alia. BDPC will help the people of Morrelganj to create natural protection from storm surge and salinity through planting of salt tolerant species along the embankments and roads and on private land.

 

Sustainable livelihood practices at community level: Securing non-saline water supply

Access to non-saline water will be assured through re-excavation of ponds, installation of pond sand filters and implementation of a community managed rainwater harvesting system.

 

Sharing knowledge

Towards the end of the project, BDPC will hold a national level seminar in which the project findings will be shared with relevant ministers of the Government of Bangladesh, as well as representatives from NGOs, community organizations and multi and bilateral organizations. With support from these stakeholders, BDPC would like to see the initiative replicated in other disaster prone communities of Bangladesh.

 

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