Bangladesh, the most populous Least Developed Country (160 million people), was represented by five finalists at DM2009. That's not surprising, because Bangladesh, with its heavily populated and low-lying coastal region, is especially vulnerable to climate change in the form of more frequent and intense cyclones that cause widespread flooding (photo). However, none of the five Bangladesh adaptation projects won. But there may yet be some hope for them. The objectives of all five appear to dovetail with much bigger adaptation projects that the Bangladesh government has identified as high priority and is seeking to fund through its National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA). Perhaps more significant, the DM2009 finalist projects provide specific details that aren't in the general projects of the Bangladesh NAPA.
The projects that made it to the DM2009 finals would:
- Provide emergency shelter and income opportunity for 2,000 tidal refugees in the Khulna City area.
- Distribute anti-arsenic filters to 10,000 households who drink contaminated water.
- Promote hydroponic agriculture in water-logged areas with "floating gardens" over fish pens.
- Develop a program to educate local media on climate change so it can communicate more effectively with millions of readers, listeners, and viewers.
- Distribute solar lanterns that send cellphone warnings of floods.
The total cost of these early-stage projects is under US$940,000 -- a fraction of the nearly US$20 million estimated cost of five similar high-priority adaptation projects identified by the Bangladesh government in its National Adaptation Program of Action. Those more general projects would provide for:
- Purification of contaminated drinking water.
- Emergency shelter, information, and assistance, mainstreaming adaptation in agriculture, and
- Development of eco-specific adaptive knowledge.
Bangladesh is seeking at least partial funding of those projects through the Least Developed Countries Fund administered by the Global Environment Facility. But another Bangladesh adaptation project -- coastal afforestation -- has completed almost all steps for approval. That US$23 million project would get LDCF funding of US$3.72 million -- about as much as Bangladesh could expect to receive in toto, considering the Fund's present limited resources of US$150 million which have to be spread among 48 other LDCs. But LDCs will be lobbying for the developed countries to contribute more to the Fund at the U.N.-sponsored climate change negotiations that begin next week in Copenhagen. A recently published World Bank analysis says all developing nations, including LDCs, would have to spend US$100 billion annually on climate change adaptation for decades to come to avoid falling behind in their economic growth.
The Bangladesh finalists were not the only ones who didn't win at DM2009. But Bangladesh is, by far, the biggest member of the LDCs. Furthermore, Bangladesh is one of the six countries that are being studied for funding under the World Bank's Pilot Program for Climate Resilience. Funding, which includes pledges from developed nations totaling US$546 million, is earmarked for projects that are part of each recipient country's NAPA. Those five DM2009 finalists should go all out to get themselves included in Bangladesh's NAPA. They would fit perfectly.