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Colombo: Beyond concrete and asphalt

Darshani De Silva's picture
To ensure their city remains sustainable, Colombo’s citizens need to co-exist and build harmonious relationships with natural ecosystems and the biodiversity that thrives in them
To ensure their city remains sustainable, Colombo’s citizens need to co-exist and build harmonious relationships with natural ecosystems and the biodiversity that thrives in them

Protecting nature in Sri Lanka’s capital for resilience and sustainability

The world is urbanizing at a very fast pace – but it seems like Sri Lanka is an exception.

In 2014, the island was listed as one of the least urbanized countries in the World Urbanization Prospects (WUP),  with less than 20 percent of the population in urban areas. By 2050, WUP projected that number would rise to only 30 percent.
Does this mean we still have to worry about the country’s urbanization? The short answer is yes.

This is, after all, an island nation with one of the highest population densities, complex and evolving social systems and intricate ecosystems.

Meanwhile, urbanization, even at relatively slower pace, is still changing migration patterns, altering the way urban populations consume resources, and impacting the affordability of land and other assets.

These, in turn, are increasing the demand for resources. Growing inequality can be seen as a result of the displacement of less affluent communities, while the loss of important ecosystems has negatively affected resilience and sustainability.

Reviving Degraded Wetlands in India’s North Bihar

Pyush Dogra's picture

Kanwar Jheel is the largest in a series of 18 wetlands spread across the Ganges flood plains in India’s north Bihar. For generations, these wetlands have been the mainstay for this densely populated region, enabling families to farm the fertile soil and fish in nutrient-rich waters.

kanwar jheel, bihar

During the monsoon, when the River Burhi Gandak - a Ganges tributary - overflows its banks, the wetlands absorb the runoff, protecting this extremely flood-prone region. When the rains are over, the water shrinks to one tenth the size, exposing marshes and grasslands that create a mosaic of habitats for a wide variety of flora and fauna.

In winter, over 60 species of duck and waterfowl visit these wetlands on their annual migration routes along the Central Asian Flyway.

Protecting wetlands: Lessons from Sri Lanka and Maldives

Mokshana Wijeyeratne's picture
Sri Lanka and Maldives are home to rich wetlands that are habitats for a variety of fauna and flora but also benefit the ecosystem
Sri Lanka and Maldives are home to rich wetlands with a variety of fauna and flora that benefit the ecosystem.

Sri Lanka and Maldives share much more than the tag of tourism hot spots, beautiful beaches, and similar cultural traits. Both island nations have a range of unique environments that are rich in biodiversity and serve a myriad of ecosystems functions.

Both countries are home to rich wetlands with a variety of fauna and flora that benefit the ecosystem, including flood protection, water purification, and natural air conditioning and provide food and support to local communities.

Sri Lanka has actively been working to ensure these essential ecosystems are protected. The Maldives has too commenced such great work. This work has produced a wealth of knowledge and innovations on how to manage and conserve wetlands. 

Managing wetlands in Sri Lanka and Maldives

The wetland management and land use planning effort undertaken in Colombo under the World Bank-financed Metro Colombo Urban Development (MCUDP) project showcases resilience in urban land use planning and highlights how a city can become more livable by intermingling green spaces to its urban fabric. All this, while protecting wetlands and reaping the benefits of their natural ecosystem functions.

The MCUDP used robust strategies and sustainable economic models, such as wetland parks, to help save urban wetlands from threats such as encroachment and clearing. Through the Climate Change Adaptation Project (CCAP), funded by the European Union and the Government of Australia, Maldives has also taken steps to manage threats to its largest wetlands.

While the approaches to wetland management in both countries have been different there are many key lessons that can be shared.

Bangladesh is thinking big by thinking blue

Pawan Patil's picture

Maintaining and restoring ocean ecosystems – or ‘ocean health’ – is synonymous with growing ‘ocean wealth,’ according to a soon-to-be published report by the World Bank and European Union. With rapid population growth, limited land and fewer terrestrial resources to house, feed and provide citizens with their energy needs, coastal nations across South Asia are looking seaward. In doing so, countries are clueing in on the fact that sustainably managing and developing ocean spaces is critical to a nation’s economic advancement.

Thinking Blue - thinking how best to sustainably tap ocean spaces as new sources of sustainable growth and transition to a blue economy - is new, although South Asian nations have used the sea for food and trade for centuries. Five years ago, few had an inkling of the emerging importance of the term 'blue economy.'

By late 2017, at the Second International Blue Economy Dialogue hosted by the Government of Bangladesh in Dhaka, interest in what the blue economy is and why it matters is at an all-time high and rising. Perhaps this not surprising. 

Rural Bangladeshis filming their way to better nutrition

Wasiur Rahman Tonmoy's picture
Local communities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts have created awareness videos to encourage the consumption of nutritious foods, including indigenous foods, threatened by packaged food products with low nutritional value
Local communities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh have created awareness videos to encourage the consumption of nutritious foods, including indigenous foods, threatened by packaged food products with low nutritional value.

In Bangladesh, chronic and acute malnutrition are higher than the World Health Organization’s (WHO) thresholds for public health emergencies—it is one of 14 countries where eighty percent of the world’s stunted children live.
Food insecurity remains a critical concern, especially in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT).
Located in the southeastern part of Bangladesh, CHT is home to 1.7 million people, of whom, about a third are indigenous communities living in the hills. The economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, but farming is difficult because of the steep and rugged terrain.
With support from the South Asia Food and Nutrition Security Initiative (SAFANSI), the Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) conducted a food and nutrition analysis which finds that more than 60% of the population in CHT migrates during April – July when food becomes harder to procure.
Based on these findings, MJF helped raise awareness through nutrition educational materials and training.  The foundation staff also formed courtyard theatres with local youth to deliver nutrition messages, expanded food banks with nutritious and dry food items, and popularized the concept of a “one dish nutritious meal” through focal persons or “nutrition agents” among these communities.

Climate-smart agriculture is “common-sense agriculture”

Martien van Nieuwkoop's picture
 Neil Palmer / CIAT
Climate-smart agriculture profiles for Bhutan, Pakistan and Nepal provide an important step forward in creating a sustainable food system in South Asia. Photo: Neil Palmer / CIAT

According to a recent study published in Science Advances, climate change is projected to hit South Asia especially hard.
Impacts will be particularly intense in the food and agriculture sector. A region inhabited by about one-fifth of the world’s people, South Asia and its densely populated agricultural areas face unique and severe natural hazards. Its food system is particularly vulnerable. Climate-smart agriculture (CSA)-- which is an integrated approach to managing landscapes that is focused on increasing agricultural productivity, improving resilience to climate change, and reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions—is part of the solution.
The World Bank is working to mainstream climate smart agriculture in South Asia with a series of Climate-Smart Agriculture or “CSA” Country Profiles for Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan, that were launched recently in collaboration with Governments and relevant stakeholders. The findings in the profiles are specific to national contexts, but there is a common thread.  We learned that for South Asia, climate change adaptation and mitigation pose major challenges and opportunities for agriculture sector investment and growth.  
The farmers, Government representatives and other stakeholders I met during the CSA Country Profile launches expressed huge interest in learning how they can put CSA into practice.  Farmers especially were interested in making CSA part of their daily farming routines.  As interest grows, so does momentum to take the CSA agenda forward, from research institutions and high level gatherings into farmer’s fields. As one farmer I met in Pakistan said, “Climate-smart agriculture is Common-sense agriculture.
Climate change is already impacting Pakistan, which often experiences periods of severe droughts, followed by devastating floods. In the aftermath of the 2010 floods, one fifth of the country’s land area was submerged, damaging the economy, infrastructure and livelihoods, and leaving 90 million people without proper access to food. Moving forward, changes in monsoons and increased temperatures will further challenge the agricultural sector, particularly northern Pakistan where vulnerability to climate change is already high.
At the same time, CSA offers attractive opportunities for strengthening Pakistan’s agricultural sector. Innovative, technological practices like laser land leveling and solar powered irrigation systems and management changes like crop diversification, proper cropping patterns and optimized planting dates could put Pakistan’s food system onto a more climate-smart path. Investments in research to develop high-yielding, heat-resistant, drought-tolerant, and pest-resistant crop varieties as well as livestock breeds could also make a difference.

Farming innovations improve livelihoods and incomes in Afghanistan’s Balkh Province

Ahmad Fahim Jabari's picture
Also available in: دری | پښتو
NHLP is working toward the overarching goal of promoting the adoption of improved production practices.
The National Horticulture and Livestock Project (NHLP) is working to improve agriculture through boosting productivity and quality. Photo Credit: NHLP/World Bank

Every working day, I work closely with my colleagues and coordinate with other stakeholders. I am happy with my job as a member of the National Horticulture and Livestock Project (NHLP) because we work to strengthen rural development, the foundation of Afghanistan’s economy.
When I joined NHLP as the information and communication officer in 2009, I realized that farmers in northern Afghanistan were all but unaware of improved practices and technologies in horticulture, livestock, and irrigation systems. Their production and productivity were low, and maintaining consistent product quality was a challenge. As a person who studied agriculture and has lived in northern Afghanistan, I remember that farmers were never convinced by the idea of adopting modern horticultural techniques and, despite their hard work, they earned little.
At the beginning of the project, it was hard for the farmers to trust NHLP,  the new techniques that were introduced were proven to be more efficient and economically viable. The project is transforming the traditional system of horticulture and livestock to a more productive and modern one. The new orchards are designed and laid out well, and planted with fruit saplings that are marketable and adapted to the weather and geography of the province.

چگونه ابتکار و نو اوری در باغداری باعث بهبود در معیشت و درآمد دهاقین و باغداران در ولایت بلخ میگردد؟

Ahmad Fahim Jabari's picture
Also available in: English | پښتو
NHLP is working toward the overarching goal of promoting the adoption of improved production practices.
هدف کُلی برنامه ملی باغداری و مالداری ترویج و حمایت از روش و شیوه های مُدرن تولیدی محصولات زراعتی برای دهاقین و باغداران میباشد. عکس: برنامه ملی باغداری و مالداری/ بانک جهانی

هر روز کاری خود را در ایجاد هماهنگی به منظور تلاش های مشترک با همکاران و سایر شرکای کاری اغاز مینمایم. ازاینکه به صفت یک عضو برنامه ملی باغداری و مالداری ایفای وظیفه مینمایم، بسیار راضی هستم، زیرا ما در راستای رُشد و توانمند سازی بنیاد اقتصادی افغانستان تلاش مینمایم.
 زمانیکه من با برنامه ملی باغداری و مالداری به حیث مسؤول ارتباطات عامه در سال ۲۰۰۹ به کار آغاز کردم، درک من از وضعیت دهاقین در ولایت شمال در آنزمان این بود که اکثریت آنان فاقد معلومات کافی در مورد کار شیوه های مدرن و استفاده از تکنالوژی پیشرفته در عرصه های باغداری، مالداری و سیستم های آبیاری بودند. اندازه تولیدات و حاصلات زراعتی کمتر از توقع دهاقین  و باغداران بود و کیفیت محصولات یک چالش برای آنان محسوب میشد. به عنوان یک فرد که در بخش زراعت تحصیل نموده ام و در شمال افغانستان زندگی میکنم، زمانی را در گذشته به خاطر می آورم که دهاقین به هیچ وجه ترغیب و تشویق نگردیده ، تا به شیوه های مدرن باغداری روی بیاورند و باوجود آنکه برای امرار معیشت شان تلاش های خستگی ناپذیر مینمودند، اما درآمد شان خیلی ناچیز میبود.

در آغاز مرحله تطبیق پروژه برای دهاقین دشوار بود، تا بالای برنامه ملی باغداری و مالداری اعتماد نمایند، مگر با گذشت زمان به گونه تدریجی به اثبات رسید که شیوه های مُدرن که دهاقین و باغداران با آن آشنا گردیدند، از مؤثریت و مؤلدیت بُلند اقتصادی برخوردار  میباشد. محور فعالیت های این برنامه متمرکز به تعدیل و جاگزین ساختن شیوه های عنعنوی باغداری و مالداری به شیوه های مُدرن و مطابق به معیار های پذیرفته شده امروزی میباشد. طرح ایجاد باغ های جدید با غرس نهال های میوه جات متنوع به گونه عملی گردیده است که بازاریابی برای آن سهل بوده و در عین زمان سازگار با شرایط آب و هوا و موقیعت جغرافیایی هر ولایت باشد.

د بڼوالي نوښت په بلخ ولایت کې د بزګرانو او بڼوالو د ژوندانه چارو او عوایدو د ودې لامل

Ahmad Fahim Jabari's picture
Also available in: English | دری
NHLP is working toward the overarching goal of promoting the adoption of improved production practices.
د بڼوالي او مالداري د ملي برنامې عمومي موخه دا ده، څو د هېواد بزګران او بڼوالان د کرنیزو محصولاتو د تولید عصري او پرمختللو کړنلارو سره اشنا کړي او په دې برخه کې د هغوی ملاتړ وکړي. انځور: د بڼوالۍ او مالدارۍ ملی برنامه/نړیوال بانک

زه خپله هره کاري ورځ له همکارانو او نورو کاري ملګرو سره د ګډو هڅو په موخه د همغږۍ رامنځته کولو لپاره پیلوم. له هغه ځایه، چې د بڼوالي او مالداري ملي برنامه د یوه غړي په توګه کار کوم، ډیر زیات راضي یم، ځکه د افغانستان د اقتصادي بنسټ د ودې او پیاوړتیا په برخه کې هلې ځلې کوم.

کله چې ما په ۲۰۰۹ زیږدیز کال کې د بڼوالي او مالدارۍ له ملي برنامې سره د عامه اړیکو د مسوول په توګه دنده پیل کړه، هغه مهال د شمال په ولایتونو کې د بزګرانو وضعیت دا وه، چې ډیری شمیر بزګران د بڼوالي، مالداري او د اوبو لګولو سیستم په برخو کي د معاصرو کړنلارو او له پرمختللي ټکنالوژۍ څخه د کارونې په اړه اړین معلومات نه درلودل. د کرنیزو تولیداتو او محصولاتو کچه د بزګرانو او بڼوالو له غوښتنې ډیر لږ وو او د محصولاتو کیفیت د هغوی لپاره یوه ستره ستونزه ګڼل کیده. د یوه کس په توګه، چې د کرنې په برخه کې مې زده کړې کړي او د افغانستان په شمال کې ژوند کوم، کله چې تیر وختونه را یادوم، چې بزګران په هیڅ ډول نه هڅول کیدل او نه تشویق کیدل، څو د بڼوالي په معاصرو تخنیکونو سمبال شي. دا په داسې حال کې ده، چې بزګرانو د خپل ژوندون لپاره نه ستړي کیدونکي هڅې کولې، خو عواید یې ډیر لږ وو.

د بزګرانو لپاره د پروژې پلي کولو د پیل پړاو ستونزمن وو، څو هغوی د بڼوالي او مالدارۍ ملي برنامې باندې باور وکړي، خو د وخت په تیریدو سره په تدریجي ډول دا ثابته شوه، چې هغه عصري تګلارې، چې بزګران او بڼوالان له هغه سره اشنا شول، ډیر زیات اقتصادي اغیزمنتیا او مولدیت لري. دا برنامه د بڼوالي او مالداري سنتي طریقو له منځه وړلو او پر ځای یې د معاصرو او ننۍ منل شویو معیارونو پر بنسټ د کړنلارو ځای پر ځای کولو باندې تمرکز کوي. د بیلابیلو میوو د نیالګیو کینولو سره د نویو بڼونو د جوړولو طرحه په داسې ډول پلي شوه، چې د هغه لپاره بازارموندنه ډیره ساده وه او په عین حال کې د هر ولایت له جغرافیايي موقعیت، اوبو او هوا له شرایطو سره ورته والی ولري.

Five myths about water in Pakistan

William Young's picture

Persistent myths, which can misguide policy, are barriers to improving water security for the people of Pakistan. Here are five:

First, this problem of water security is often presented as one of water scarcity. But Pakistan is a water-rich country – only 35 countries have more renewable water. It is true that measured for each person, Pakistan is approaching a widely recognized scarcity level of 1000 cubic meters each year. But there are 32 countries that have less water for each person and most of these countries are much wealthier and use less water for each person. Pakistan needs to shift its focus from scarcity to managing water demand and producing more from each drop of water. It needs to make water allocation more efficient and fair, and offer incentives that reflect how scarce water is to encourage wise use.