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Bangladesh: Building resilience in the eye of the storm (Part 2/3)

Sameh Wahba's picture

Photo: Swarna Kazi / World Bank

This is the second of a three-part series, "Resilience in the of the Eye of the Storm," on how Bangladesh has become a leader in coastal resilience.

With a population of 160 million, Bangladesh is situated at the epicenter of some of the deadliest cyclones the world has ever experienced. Catastrophic events are the norm rather than the exception. A severe tropical cyclone can strike every 3 years and 25% of the land floods annually.
The network of the mighty Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna rivers makes its meandering journey through the delta into the Bay of Bengal forming the coast of Bangladesh.
The jagged coastline of Bangladesh spans hundreds of miles and is subject to multiple challenges: 62% of the coastal land has an elevation of up to 3 meters and 83% is up to 5 meters above sea level. These low-lying areas are highly vulnerable to natural hazards.
Earlier this year, I got a chance to see first-hand the challenges that this demanding landscape had brought onto the communities of a remote coastal village. What struck me most when speaking to members of this coastal community was their courage and resilience. Aware that a calamity can hit anytime, they struggle to protect their livelihoods affected by saltwater intrusion, and their own lives which are increasingly at risk due to rising sea levels, and exposure to more frequent and devastating storms and cyclones.
By 2050, the coastal population is projected to grow to 61 million people, whose livelihoods will increasingly be at risk due to the impact of climate change.
Triggered by climate change, seawater inundation could become a major problem for traditional agriculture. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report (2014), climate-related declines in food productivity will impact livelihoods and exports and increase poverty. In Bangladesh, it is estimated that these factors would cause a net increase in poverty of 15% by 2030.
To mitigate against such risks, the government has been investing in strengthening the resilience of the coastal zone. Over the years, Bangladesh has become an example of how protective coastal infrastructure, together with social mobilization and community-based early warning systems, is helping to build resilience.

Seize the Opportunity to make Dhaka a Great, Vibrant City

Qimiao Fan's picture

The success of Dhaka, one of the megacities of the world, is critically important for the economic and social development of Bangladesh. The city's astonishing growth, from a population of 3 million in 1980 to 18 million  today, represents the promise and dreams of a better life: the hard  work and sacrifices made by all residents to seize  opportunities to lift themselves from poverty towards greater prosperity. 

 However, as Dhaka has grown to become one of the most densely populated cities in the world, its expansion has  been messy and uneven. Dhaka's growth has taken place without adequate planning, resulting in a city with extreme  congestion, poor liveability, and vulnerability to floods and earthquakes. Many residents, including the 3.5 million  people living in informal settlements, often lack access to basic services, infrastructure, and amenities. 
Unplanned and uncontrolled growth has created unprecedented congestion: the average driving speed has dropped  from 21km per hour 10 years ago to less than 7km per hour today. Continuing on current trends would result in a  further slowdown to 4km an hour — slower than the average walking speed! Congestion eats up 3.2 million working hours each day and costs the economy billions of dollars every year. Some of the most important economic benefits    from urbanisation are missed out due to this messiness, resulting in lower incomes for the city and the country.
These problems will not go away on their own. Dhaka's population is expected to double once again by 2035, to 35  million. Without a fundamental re-think requiring substantial planning, coordination, investments, and action, Dhaka  will never be able to deliver its full potential. Dhaka is at a crossroads in defining its future and destiny. 
Up to now, urban growth has mainly taken place in the northern part of Dhaka and expanded westward after the  flood of 1988, when the government built the western embankment for flood protection. This resulted in high-density  investments near the city centre, where infrastructure and social services were accessible. However, real estate investments were not coordinated with other infrastructure and transportation services. 

What were your favorite entries from the Sri Lanka environment photo contest?

Tashaya Anuki Premachandra's picture

Inspired by Sri Lanka's incredible natural beauty, the World Bank organized a photo contest starting on June 21st aimed at showcasing the many talented photographers among us as well as celebrating the rich flora and fauna of Sri Lanka. We received an overwhelming response from many talented photographers, both professional and amateur, who sent us hundreds of awe-inspiring entries.

After the contest ended on June 30th, 167 entries were shortlisted. We asked you which photos were your favorites and you voted until 6PM Monday on your selections through social media. Without further ado, here are the top 10 based on your choices!

Let us know what you think in the comments below and don't forget to follow World Bank Sri Lanka on Facebook as well as the World Bank's Country Director for Sri Lanka and Maldives, @Idah_WB on Twitter

1 - Ganindu Madhawa

2 - Balamurali Ellamurugan

3 - Shehan Thiwantha

4 - Shehan Thiwantha

5 - Shehan Thiwantha

6 - Ganindu Madhawa

7 - Ganindu Madhawa

8 - Kasun De Silva

9 - Vinod Liyanage

10 -  Kasun De Silva

Update: #StoriesFromLka photo contest

Tashaya Anuki Premachandra's picture

Sri Lanka, the emerald isle, is endowed with natural beauty.  Surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the island nation is replete with wondrous wildlife, magnificent landscapes and natural wonders.

Inspired by this, the World Bank in Sri Lanka organized a photo contest on 21st June, 2017. This contest, one of several organized by the Bank, is aimed at showcasing the many talented photographers among us as well as celebrating the rich flora and fauna of Sri Lanka.

Photo Credit: Mokshana Wijeyeratne, World Bank

We received an overwhelming response from many talented photographers, both professional and amateur, who sent us hundreds of awe-inspiring entries. The contest ended on 30th June, 2017. We have now shortlisted a total of 167 entries after removing those which had issues with reference to clarity, quality and relevance.

Now, it's time to look for the winners and we are putting you in the driver's seat. Crowdsourcing, as you know, is a very popular method of selection for online contests globally. Therefore, for this particular contest, the winner will be chosen on the basis of the number of likes that you have clicked.

Bangladesh: Building resilience in the eye of the storm (Part 1/3)

Sameh Wahba's picture
 Ismail Ferdous/World Bank
Bangladesh, for its geographical location, is in the frontline of the battle against climate change. Credit: Ismail Ferdous/World Bank

This blog is the first of  a series on how Bangladesh has become a leader in coastal resilience.
While flying along the coast of Bangladesh earlier this year, I saw from the sky a vast, serene delta landscape, crisscrossed by innumerable rivers and contoured paddy fields.
Nonetheless, I was aware that this apparent quietude might well be the calm before a storm.
Indeed. the magnitude of threats faced by Bangladesh is unprecedented in terms of risk, exposure and vulnerability. And with a population of 160 million, the country is one of the world’s most disaster prone and vulnerable to tropical cyclones, storm surges, floods, a changing climate and even earthquakes.
However, the story of Bangladesh is one of resilience.
After the deadly cyclones of 1970 and 1991, which together resulted in the loss of at least half a million lives, the government of Bangladesh instituted disaster risk reduction policies and invested in infrastructure and community-based early warning systems to reduce risks from coastal hazards.
Over the years, these investments in cyclone preparedness and flood management helped save lives, reduce economic losses, and protect developmental gains. As a result, the government’s actions are globally cited as being proactive in investing in disaster risk management.
The World Bank has been a longstanding partner of the government in investing for resilience.

Local communities combat climate change in Bangladesh

Shilpa Banerji's picture
Mahfuzul Hasan Bhuiyan/World Bank
Bangladesh is among the most vulnerable countries to flooding and climate change impacts. Photo Credit: 
Mahfuzul Hasan Bhuiyan/World Bank

How can a country vulnerable to natural disasters mitigate the effects of climate change? In Bangladesh, resilient communities have shown that by using local solutions it is possible to combat different types of climate change impacting different parts of the country.
Every year, flash floods and drought affect the north and north-west regions. Drinking water becomes scarce, land becomes barren and people struggle to find shelter for themselves and their livestock. In the coastal districts, excessive saline makes it impossible to farm and fish.
The Community Climate Change Project (CCCP) has awarded grants to around 41 NGOs to address salinity, flood and drought-prone areas. With the help from local NGOs, communities innovated simple solutions to cope up with changing climate and earn a better living benefiting at least 40,000 people in the most vulnerable districts.
Raising the plinths of their homes in clusters has helped more than 15,000 families escape floods, and they continued to earn their livelihoods by planting vegetables and rearing goats on raised ground. Vermicomposting has also helped to increase crop yields. In the saline affected areas, many farmers have started to cultivate salinity tolerant crabs with women raising their income level by earning an additional BDT 1500 a month from saline tolerant mud crab culture in high saline areas.
Watch how communities use these three solutions to tackle climate change impacts.

Calling out to nature enthusiasts and shutterbugs!

Tashaya Anuki Premachandra's picture

Enter Sri Lanka’s #worldenvironmentday photo competition

Deadline – 30 June, 2017

Biodiversity is the way so don’t let nature go astray!

If you believe in this motto, then why don’t you participate in our exciting photo competition?
We’d love to see photos of Sri Lanka’s majestic animals and landscapes from your lens. This is your opportunity to share aesthetically pleasing photographs for a cause that you believe in. Enter your creative photo, with a short statement describing the photo, for a chance to win an exciting prize. Here’s how it works:

ஏன் ஒவ்வொரு நாளும் சுற்றாடல் தினமாக இருக்கவேண்டும்?

Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough's picture
Also available in: English | සිංහල

இந்த வருடத்தின் முதல் ஆறுமாத காலப்பகுதியில் இலங்கையில் வரட்சி, மண்சரிவு,  குப்பை மேடு சரிவு ,வெள்ளப்பெருக்கு போன்ற பல பாரிய அனர்த்தங்கள் இடம்பெற்றன. பாதிக்கப்பட்டவர்களைத் தவிர ஏனையோரின் கவனத்தைப் பெறாதளவில் மேலும் பல அனர்த்தங்களும் இடம்பெற்றன. இலங்கையர்கள் எதிர்கொண்ட இவ் அனர்த்தங்கள் சுற்றாடலை நாம் எங்ஙனம் பேணிக்காக்க வேண்டும் என்பதை அச்சொட்டாக வலியுறுத்தி நிற்கின்றன.    உயிர்களுக்கும் உடைமைகளுக்கும் ஏற்பட்ட சேதங்கள், வாழ்க்கைச் சக்கரத்தில் ஏற்பட்டுள்ள தடங்கல்கள், உளவியல் ரீதியாகவும்  ஆன்மீக ரீதியாகவும் மிகவும் கடினமானவை. எப்போதேனும் இவற்றை வழமைக்கு கொண்டுவருவது மெதுவான செயற்பாடாக அமையும்.

நிலைபேறான சுற்றாடல் முகாமைத்துவம் தொடர்பான சிந்தனைகளை ஆண்டில் ஒரு நாளுக்கு மாத்திரம் நாம் ஏன் மட்டுப்படுத்தவேண்டும்?  நகரப்பகுதிகள், ஆறுகள் அன்றேல் கடலில் இருந்து குப்பைகளைச் சேகரித்தல், தொண்டுநோக்கிற்கான நடைபவனியில் பங்கேற்றல் போன்ற செயற்பாடுகளில் ஈடுபடுவதன் மூலமாக நாம் வழமையாக சுற்றாடல் தினத்தைக் கொண்டாடுகின்றோம்.   இந்த ஒருநாளில் சுற்றாடல் குறித்த ஆர்வம் கட்டியெழுப்பப்படுகின்றது. அனைவரும் பங்கேற்கின்றனர்.  மறுநாளோ வேறு முக்கியத்துவம் மிக்க விடயங்களை நோக்கி அவர்களின் கவனம் நகர்ந்துவிடுகின்றது.  அடுத்த கட்ட அனர்த்தம் நிகழும் வரையில் அவர்களது கவனம் வேறுவிடயங்களில் இருக்கும். மீண்டுமாக ஒருவரை ஒருவர் மாறிமாறி குற்றஞ்சாட்டுதல் ஆரம்பிக்கும்.

Photo Credit: Mokshana Wijeyeratne

பிரச்சனையின் ஓர் அங்கமாகவும் தீர்வின் ஓர் அங்கமாகவும் நாம் எம்மைப் பார்க்கும் வரையில் எதுவுமே மாறப் போவதில்லை. இவ்வாறான பல விடயங்களில் நாம் தினமும் ஒரு மாற்றத்தை ஏற்படுத்த முடியும். கழிவுகள் பற்றி  அவதானம் செலுத்துவோம். எமது இல்லங்களில் தனிப்பட்ட ரீதியில் நாம் அனைவரும் கழிவுகளை உருவாக்குகின்றோம். எம்மைப் பொறுத்தவரையில் குப்பை பைக்குள் கழிவுகளைக் கொட்டி அகற்றிவிட்டவுடன் அந்தப் பிரச்சனை எமக்கில்லை. உண்மையில் கூறுவதானால் அது பொதுமக்களின் பிரச்சனையாக மாறுகின்றது. கழிவுகளை வீட்டிற்குள்ளேயே நாம்  மக்கிப் போகின்றவை எனவும் மீள்சுழற்சிக்குட்படுத்தக்கூடியவை மற்றும் எஞ்சியவை எனத் தனித்தனியே வேறுபிரிப்பதற்கான சாதாரணமான அர்ப்பணிப்பைக் காண்பிப்போமானால் அவை ஒழுங்கான முறையில் சேகரிக்கப்பட்டு அகற்றப்படுமானால் ஒட்டுமொத்த  கழிவுகளின் அளவைக் கணிசமாகக் குறைத்துக்கொள்ள முடியும். கழிவுகளில் இருந்து தயாரிக்கப்படும் உரத்தைக் கொண்டு தோட்டங்களையும் பயிர்களையும் செழிப்படையச் செய்யலாம்.

සෑම දිනයක්ම පරිසර දිනයක් විය යුත්තේ ඇයි?

Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough's picture
Also available in: English | தமிழ்

පරිසර කළමනාකරණය යන්න ක‍ෙතරම් අසීරු දෙයක්දැයි පසුගිය මාස හය තුළ ශ්‍රී ලංකාව ලද අත්දැකීම් තුළින්ම ‍පැහැදිලි විය. නියඟය, නාය යෑම්, කසල කඳු කඩා වැටීම්, මහා ගංවතුර ආදී විවිධාකාර සිදුවීම්වලට අප මුහුණ දුන් අතර විපතට පත් නොවූවන්ගේ අවධානය දිනා ගැනීම‍ෙන් තොරව ම එ්වා යටපත්ව ගියේ ය. සෑම අවස්ථාවකම සිදුවූ පරිදි, ජීවිත හා දේපළ හානි, දෛනික ක්‍රියාවලියට සිදු වූ බලපෑම් ආදිය විසින් මානසිකව හා ආධ්‍යාත්මිකව ක්‍ර‍මක්‍ර‍මය‍ෙන් ජීවත් වීමට අපහසු මන්දගාමී තත්ත්වයකට අප ඇද දමනු ලැබී ය.

එසේ නම්, මේ තිරසාර පාරිසරක කළමණාකරණයට අප එක් දිනයකදී පමණක් සිත් යොමන්නේ ඇයි?    සාමාන්‍යය‍ෙන් අප පරිසර දිනය සමරන්නේ නගරය වටා, ගං ඉවුරක හෝ මුහුදු ව‍ෙරළක කසළ එකතු කිරීම, නොඑසේනම් පාගමනකට හෝ එවන් ව‍ෙනත් වැඩසටහනකට සහභාගී වීම මගිනි. උනන්දුව අහවරවත්ම, “වඩාත් දැවෙන ප්‍ර‍ශ්න“ වෙනුවෙන් පසුදා උදයේම සැවොම පිය ඔසවන අතර සුපුරුදු අනෙකා මත වරද පැටවීමේ ක්‍රීඩාව ද ආරම්භ වේ.     

Photo Credit: Mokshana Wijeyeratne

මෙහිදී පහත ප්‍ර‍ධාන කරුණ තහවුරු කරන්නට කැමැත්තෙමි. ඒ නම්, අප සියල්ලන්ම අර්බුදයේත් විසඳුමේත් කොටස්කරුවන් බව වටහා ගන්නා තුරු කිසිවක් ව‍ෙනස් නොවනු ඇති බව ය. ම‍ෙවන් බොහෝ අර්බුදවලදී , ව‍ෙනසක් සිදු කිරීමේ හැකියාව ඇත්තේ, දිනපතාම, අපටම ය!