The Sixth Five Year Plan, as outlined in Bangladesh's Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, targets strategic growth and employment. The medium-term macroeconomic framework plan entails the involvement of both the private and public sectors. Human resources development strategy programs reaching out to the poor and the vulnerable population, as well as environment, climate change, and disaster risk management, have been included in the plan. Managing regional disparities for shared growth and strategy for raising farm productivity and agricultural growth have been outlined. Diversifying exports and developing a dynamic manufacturing sector are all inclusive in the proposed plan.


The Sixth Five Year Plan, as outlined in Bangladesh's Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, targets strategic growth and employment. The medium-term macroeconomic framework plan entails the involvement of both the private and public sectors. Human resources development strategy programs reaching out to the poor and the vulnerable population, as well as environment, climate change, and disaster risk management, have been included in the plan. Managing regional disparities for shared growth and strategy for raising farm productivity and agricultural growth have been outlined. Diversifying exports and developing a dynamic manufacturing sector are all inclusive in the proposed plan.

Chapter 10: Environment, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management

Sectoral Overview

Despite substantial initiatives taken by the Government of Bangladesh, development partners and the NGOs, the state of environment, climate change and disaster occurrence in Bangladesh is quite alarming. The Ministry of Environment and Forests has taken several environmental management initiatives to facilitate sustainable development including National Environmental Management Action Plan, Sustainable Environment Management Program, Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan, National Plan for Adaptation to climate change, biodiversity strategy and action plan for persistent organic pollutant (POPs) management. In addition, actions relating to the phasing out of Ozone Depleting Substances, control of air pollution, social forestry, coastal aforestation, promotion of smokeless brick kiln have been taken. At the same time, the Ministry of Food and Disaster Management has been successful in shifting the paradigm from relief culture to risk reduction management involving comprehensive disaster management program, cyclone preparedness program in coastal areas, and a huge safety net support program. All these initiatives have yielded a number of encouraging results in terms of environmental protection and disaster management. Nevertheless, the challenge for environmental management remains huge and requires continuous efforts over the longer term.

With a view to achieving the goal of sustainable development, the SFYP is focusing on integrating poverty, environment and climate change into the process of planning and budgeting. In this context, appropriate policy and institutional capacity building for sustainable land-water management, biodiversity conservation and climate resilient development are crucial. Environment, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and disaster risk reduction must be addressed in a broader development context, recognizing climate change as an added challenge to reducing poverty, hunger, diseases and environmental degradation.

Building resilience to ongoing and future climate change calls for adaptation as well as mitigation measures by addressing existing problems in environment, land and water management. Climate change, and increased climate variability, impact primarily through water and biological processes with implications for land use. Disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation efforts reduce people’s exposure to climate-related disasters and, early warning and enhanced coping capacity limit their impact on people’s lives. In this context, strengthening institutions for environment, disaster, land and water management is crucial for effective adaptation and such effort should build on the principles of participation of community.

In international negotiation, Bangladesh being the most vulnerable country should raise voice on adaptation as an additional development challenge. Additional and substantial increase in financing is needed to improve adaptive capacity of rural households and land and water management systems. Development budgets are already under high pressure from severe and frequent cyclones and global financial and economic crisis. There is a need to influence and ensure the development of financing mechanisms capable of generating sufficient resources and delivering them in a manner that minimizes complexity and supports the integration of adaptation concerns into broader development agenda.

Understandably, the adverse interactions of environmental degradation and climate change could have severe consequences on citizen’s welfare, especially for the poorer segment that may not have adequate access to coping mechanisms. Indeed, degradation of land, water, frequent flooding and cyclones, rising levels of sea water can easily threaten the sustainability of poverty reduction strategies unless appropriate measures are taken to protect the environment and address climate change issues. Similarly, effective disaster management strategy for tackling natural disasters is also crucial for the welfare of the poorer segment of the society.

Environment Issues Linked to Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Growth

In the last two decades Bangladesh has made significant progress in terms of reducing population growth to 1.7% per annum, increasing economic growth to about 6% per annum, and almost halving the percentage of population considered hard core poor. Despite such achievements, Bangladesh faces serious challenges in the context of sustainability. The population is set to be doubled by 2050, reaching some 270 million and it is predicted that most of the additional people will live in the rapidly growing urban areas. In addition, climate change is predicted to raise average sea levels by around 30 cm by 2050, and could make an additional 14% of the country extremely vulnerable to floods by 2030.

Given its demographic, socio-economic and resource context, Bangladesh can be said as a test case of sustainable development. Such efforts can be undermined both by poverty and economic growth-induced pollution. With lack of access and property right to natural resources like land and water, the poor often live on marginal lands and degrade the environment to meet their basic needs. On the other hand, growth-induced environmental degradation affects the livelihoods and health of the poor as they find work or low cost living space in vulnerable locations. While emphasizing that economic growth is essential to reduce poverty, a careful balancing act must be orchestrated where economic growth is maximized without compromising environmental protection. Maintaining this balance, through selected trade-offs, is vital to the poor for three reasons:

Livelihoods: The livelihoods of the poor of Bangladesh depend crucially on natural resources like land, water, agricultural products, forests etc. Over two-thirds of the labor force directly depends on a variety of environmental resources for their livelihood support. However, population-induced pressure as well as growth-induced degradation of the limited natural resources of the country, particularly land (high population density, loss of 1% of cropped area per year, soil erosion, loss of nutrients), water (declining dry season surface water area and quality), fisheries (declining inland capture fisheries, loss of wetland habitat) and forests (only about 10% of the country, with much degraded) is having adverse consequences on the livelihoods of the poor.

Health and the environment: The World Bank’s recent Country Environmental Analysis (CEA) estimates that environmental factors account for as much as 22% of the national burden of diseases, particularly in the form of respiratory infections from indoor and urban air pollution and diarrheal diseases. High use of chemical fertilizers in agriculture, and release of untreated effluents into the open water bodies by a growing number of industries are also responsible in this regard. In addition, food safety of the country is challenged due to poorly regulated environment, production and processing, lack of sanitary storage facilities etc. The CEA argues that achievable goals for reduced exposure to environmental health risks could result in economic savings equivalent to as much as 3.5% of Bangladesh GDP.

Livelihood vulnerability: The geographical location of Bangladesh in the confluence and delta of three mighty rivers – Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna, at the head of the Bay of Bengal, and near the eastern Himalayas, has made it extremely vulnerable to natural hazards e.g. floods, cyclones and occasional earthquakes. These hazards are exacerbated by lack of land use zoning, indiscriminate filling of water bodies and wetlands, and in the long term by human-induced climate change.

Women and environmental issues: Women undertake crucial roles in environmental management such as water supply and sanitation, agricultural production, hygiene education at the household level etc. Thus women needs to actively participate in decision making during planning, operations and maintenance etc. through social mobilization and hygiene education in coordination with all relevant organizations and ministries, NGOs, CBOs, local government bodies and other related agencies. In urban slums and rural areas women are responsible for collecting water, fuel, fishing, home gardening, planting, feeding, etc. However in reality, most women are not included in policy decision even if such decisions often affect them in disproportionate and negative manners.

Progress with Environmental Management

Degraded environment implies that there are fewer resources available not only for the present but also for future generations, implying greater risk of unsustainability. It creates adverse impact on both production and consumption activities of the people. With this realization, the Department of Environment (DoE) has been working for the conservation of environment and undertaking various activities to prevent environmental degradation.

Government Programs for Environmental Management

The DoE is formulating and implementing policies and programs that ensure a realistic balance between the existing livelihood requirement of the people and sound environmental resource management. A major part of its activities include environmental impact assessment carried out through the Environment Conservation Rules promulgated under the Environment Conservation Act 1997. These programs will be continued and would be strengthened during the SFYP. Programs undertaken by the GOB include raising awareness on environment, environmental management and its monitoring, implementation of the international conventions and protocols signed by the government and programs to implement existing environmental laws of the country.

Besides completing a large number of projects during the previous plans, GOB is engaged in implementing a number of programs to improve as well as to protect the environment. A brief listing of these programs is:

  • Control of Air Pollution

  • Controlling Industrial Pollution

  • Conservation of Ecosystem

  • Partnership Program for Environment Protection

  • Conservation of Biological Diversities

  • Protection of the Ozone Layer

  • Measures toward Management of Wastes

  • National Bio-Safety Framework

  • Control of Noise Pollution

  • Saving the River

  • Generating electricity from waste

  • Declaring Ecologically Critical Areas

  • Reduction in the Production and Use of Black Polythene

  • Poverty-Environment-Climate-Disaster Nexus Initiative in National Planning Process

Controlling Air Pollution

The Environment Conservation Rules, 1997 (ECA 97) have undergone amendment through incorporation of relevant sections towards effective control of various aspects of air pollution. To improve the rising trend of air pollution situation in Dhaka city two-stroke three-wheelers have completely been made off-road since 1 January, 2003. Air Quality Standards mentioned in Schedule-2 of ECR, ‘97 have undergone amendment on 19 July, 2005. Air Quality Index has been published on the basis of the state of day to day air qualities. On the same date of 2005, the Vehicular Emission Standards mentioned in Schedule-6 of the above rules have also been amended. With the help of mobile monitoring vans equipped with testing systems, the Department of Environment is testing for emissions from on-road automobiles as per Revised Standards for Vehicular Emissions.

Five Continuous Air-quality Monitoring Stations (CAMS) have been set up in the country under the Air Quality Management Project (AQMP) implemented by the Department of Environment. Two of such CAMS are located in the city of Dhaka, while of the rest three, one each in the cities of Chittagong, Rajshahi and Khulna. Besides, a couple of Mobile Air-quality Monitoring Stations (MAMS) have also been acquired for measuring air pollution at local levels in various other areas. AQMP has opened a web-site to provide information and data pertaining to air pollution and to create and enhance public awareness of the Issue.

The Department of Environment is implementing Clean Air and Sustainable Environment (CASE) Project to address different air pollution issues to improve urban air quality. MoEF has also taken initiative to promote energy efficient brick-kiln in protection of air pollution and loss of valuable forest resources and crop land from degradation. To reduce the emission from brick kilns, DoE recently issued public notice that fixed chimney with 120ft stack will not be allowed after 2010 and Zigzag, Hibride Hoffman and Vertical Shaft Brick Kiln types of brickfields are being encouraged to replace the conventional one. A number of activities have been undertaken to control toxic emissions and for resolving the problem of traffic jams in Dhaka City. The activities include administering of mobile court at different points in the city.

Control of Vehicular Air Pollution

Vehicular emission is identified as one of the major sources of air pollution in urban air shed. To reduce the vehicular emission CASE project will undertake activities to improve traffic mobility and pedestrian safety enforce vehicular traffic mobility and pedestrian safety enforce vehicular traffic mobility and standards through road site monitoring of vehicles. The activities also include administering of mobile court at different point in the city.

Control of Noise Pollution

For the limitation about controlling noise pollution in Environment Conservation Act, 1995 Noise Pollution Control Rules, 2006 was enacted in the light of opinion of common people including government and non-government organizations. Among the multidimensional pollutions, noise pollution is one of the worst pollutions in some of the cities of Bangladesh including Dhaka City. The Ministry of Environment and Forests has set a target of reducing the noise pollution level 45-55 db from 90- 110 db by FY10

Managing Industrial Pollution

Environmental Clearance Certificates (ECCs) are being issued from the Department of Environment to proposed industrial enterprises in pursuance of ECA, ‘95 and ECR, ‘97 only after getting ensured that the proposed sites of such industrial enterprises are acceptable and also that the anticipated pollution loads due to such industries will be within acceptable limits. In case of highly polluting industries, ECCs is accorded only after construction of and establishing Effluent Treatment Plants (ETPs) within them and on the basis of proven efficacy of such ETPs.

During a survey covering 11,149 industrial units conducted during 2002-2005, the Department of Environment had identified 524 falling under the Red Category as per ECR, ‘97. Among the above-identified 524 red-listed industrial units, 417 were found to have constructed their ETPs in their own initiative while 105 had no ETP at all.

Conservation of Biological Diversities

The Government of Bangladesh in 1999 declared 8 areas of Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf Peninsula, St. Martin’s Island, Sonadia Island, Hakaluki Haor, Tanguar Haor and Marjat Baor, the Gulshan-Baridhara Lake and 10 km land ward periphery of Sundarbans as Ecologically Critical Areas (ECAs). Later in 2009, 4 rivers around Dhaka city (Buriganga, Shitalakha, Balu and Turag) were declared as ECA’s making the total No. 12. The GEF/UNDP assisted project titled Coastal and Wetland Biodiversity Management at Cox’s Bazar and Hakaluki Haor (CWBMP)’ which is being implemented by the Department of Environment, has been undertaking various programs towards conservation of the biological diversities of 4 ECA’s namely Cox’s Bazar- Teknaf Peninsula, Sonadia Island, St. Martin’s Island and Hakaluki Haor. The aim is to ensure conservation, management and sustainable use of the biological and other resources of the ECA’s through establishing institutional arrangement.


The Government has issued a notice to impose a ban on illegal hill cutting on March 2002 by considering the importance of hill for a balanced ecosystem and environment. Tendency for illegal cutting of hills has been reduced a lot as a result of gradual increase of awareness about hill cutting.

A notice declaring ecologically critical areas was issued on April 19, 1999. These areas include ten kilometers around the Sundarbans Reserve Forests, Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf sea shore, Saint Martin’s Island, Sonadia, Hakalukee Haor, Tanguour Haor, Marjat Haor and Gulshan Lake. Activities banned in these areas include felling or collecting trees from these areas; hunting, catching or killing wildlife; industrial development; fishing and other activities that might affect fish and other aquatic life; and any activity that could destroy or change the natural characteristics of soil or water.

Protection of Ozone Layer

Bangladesh has been among the few countries which have earned remarkable successes in her efforts related to relevant aspects of global action towards protection of the ozone layer. After accession of the Montreal Protocol on ‘Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer’ Bangladesh has ratified all of its amendments viz., London amendment, Montreal amendment, Copenhagen amendment and recently in 2010 Beijing amendment. Bangladesh has completely phased out CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) from aerosol sector, refrigerator and air-conditioning sector, and other commercial sector since 1 January 2010. In pharmaceuticals sector, small amount of CFCs are being used to manufacture metered dose inhalers (MDIs) for asthma and COPD patients under essential use nomination (EUN) of Montreal Protocol. By 2012, complete phase-out of CFC seems feasible. Transition strategy and conversion projects to facilitate the MDI producing companies to phase-out CFCs in the manufacturing of MDIs are being implemented.

Since 1 January 2010, Bangladesh has completely phased-out CTC (Carbon Tetra Chloride) and Methyl Chloroform (MCF) from solvent sector. In addition, from 1995 Bangladesh has stopped using MBr (Methyl Bromide) for quarantine and pre-shipment uses. It has been using heat treatment method as an alternative to MBr in quarantine and pre-shipment uses.

Besides CFC, CTC, MCF, it is a challenge for Bangladesh to phase-out hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), comparatively low ozone depleting potential refrigerators and blowing agents (used in foam industry). Steps have been taken to design an HCFC Phase-out Management Plan (HPMP) to phase-out remaining ODSs while taking into account the issue of climate change

Management of Wastes

With the rise in population, especially in the urban areas, domestic and other forms of wastes have increased both in dimension and in quantities. Waste management programs are being implemented all over the world through reduction of volumes and quantities of wastes, waste re-use and waste recycling. In Bangladesh, National 3R (Reduce, Re-use and Recycle) Program has been under implementation toward reducing, re-use and recycling of various forms of wastes through the assistance of the United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD). A national strategy on Waste Reduce, Reuse and Recycle (3R) for Bangladesh has been formulated.

With the increase of livestock and poultry population in country, huge amount of cow-dung and poultry litters are produced everyday. These organic materials may be used as a good source of renewable energy and organic fertilizer.

Saving the River

The Department looked into how to reduce the levels of illegal encroachment on the banks of the Buriganga River and the amount of pollution in the river. As part of this program, the following activities were undertaken:

  • Surveying different structures on the riverbanks and determining how the settlers acquired the land and formulating plans for future activities.

  • Identifying polluting industries on both banks of the river, classifying and making recommendations to reduce pollution. Assessing the disposal rate and degree of pollution of tributaries of the Buriganga River and making recommendations for treatment.

Under this program, an inter-ministerial committee with two sub-committees has been formed. The role of these sub-committees is to remove people living illegally on the banks of the river (encroachers) and to control and reduce pollution of the river. The draft report of the subcommittee for removing the encroachers is now under consideration by the convener of the subcommittee. After thorough review, it will be sent to the Ministry of Environment and Forests for final approval. In addition, a demonstration project looking at pollution prevention and control in the Buriganga River is being carried out by the 'Bangladesh Environmental Management Project. Its focus is on conducting surveys and reviewing pollution levels in the river to establish baseline conditions; designing and implementing a strategic pilot monitoring and compliance action program for preventing and controlling pollution on a portion of the river to assess its effects. It can be applied to the entire river; developing a process for evaluating and revising pollution control standards; building enforcement and regulatory competency and capacity within Department; and after identifying the stakeholders, developing with them a strategy for implementing non-regulatory measures, including awareness-rising. The Inter-Ministerial Committee visited the Buriganga River around Dhaka City and removal of submerged waste has been started from January, 2010:

  • Carryout river water quality monitoring program, observe water quality trend, figure out the causes, sources, and prepare and enforce action plan.

  • Undertake surprise visit to industrial units to identify non compliance polluting industries and take necessary administrative and legal actions against them.

  • Following the High Court verdict on a public litigation a draft guideline have been prepared for conservation of river surrounding Dhaka city and to declare as Ecologically Critically Area (ECA).

Ban on Polythene Shopping Bag

With effect from 1st March, 2002, the GoB has imposed ban on the production and use of all kinds of polythene shopping bags throughout the country. In the same year, a new section named “6 ka” was inserted into the Environment Conservation Act 1995. Afterwards, in consultation with different trading associations and chamber of commerce and industries and in consideration of the difficulties faced by them in marketing food items and other essential commodities, the government with its authority by “6 ka” of Environment Conservation Act, made waiver of using polythene shopping bags not less than 55 micron thickness for the purpose of packaging the materials. Moreover polythene shopping bag with 35 micron thickness is allowed for transportation of fish stock. The DoE is vigilant and frequently organizes mobile courts to enforce the ban on polythene.

Medical Waste Management

For safe and environment friendly management of medical wastes, the government promulgated Bangladesh Medical Waste (Management and Processing) Rules 2008 under Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act 1995. This rule properly addresses environmentally sound segregation in source packaging, storing, collection, transportation, treatment and final disposal of medical waste. Private specialized organizations are actively involved in this area in collaboration with City Corporation and Municipalities. Dhaka City Corporation is the pioneer in engaging private organization effectively to deal with the medical waste management in Dhaka city. With the support from JICA, Dhaka City Corporation is also undertaking a 20 year master plan for solid waste management. Department of Environment is providing overall guidance and regulatory requirements as per Environment Conservation Act and Rules.

NGO Activities for Conservation of Environment

In alliance with the Government, a number of NGOs have been working to address environmental problems and to improve environmental system of the country since 1980s. The NGOs play an important role in motivating people at the grass root level to protect environment and to take coordinated efforts in solving environmental problems. There are NGOs which are playing commendable role in projecting environment. Included among them are: International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Centre for Sustainable Development (CSD), Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS), Environmental Conservation Management Centre, Waste Concern, Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (BAPA) and Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers' Association (BELA).etc.

Conserving Forestry Resources

The Forest Department plays an important role in the development of physical, socioeconomic development, maintenance of environmental balance and sustainable land based production system. The forest management system of Bangladesh is an age-old system. At the beginning, the main task of the forest department was to protect the forest and to ensure sustained yield management. The present Government has taken up a plan to bring 20 percent of our land under aforestation programs by 2015 to attain self-sufficiency in forest resources and maintain ecological balance. Co- management has been initiated in 19 out of 28 protected areas to promote conservation of bio-diversity and the protection of wildlife.

Social forestry program is one of the important programs of the Forest Department. Since 1981, the Forest Department implemented four social projects with the financial assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The Forest department has been successfully implementing these social forestry programs. During the last three years, the DoF has provided training in social forestry to 46021 persons which have allowed the poor village people to benefit from common property.

Through different social forestry projects, 56,484 hectares encroached and degraded forest area has already been bought under social forestry. In the three coming years, activities will continue to control soil erosion and forest land erosion as well as to stabilize new char land. Also there will be activities for improvement of soil quality and for this purpose, block plantation in 51,000 hectares of land, strip plantation in 7,855 km, homesteads and institutional plantation and the sale and distribution of 43.80 lac seedlings among the people. The poor and marginal farmers are participating in the social forestry programs and there is a legally binding definite share of benefit for them. Currently, the Forest Department has been implementing 21 development projects and 13 development programs to increase the forest resources as well as poverty reduction in the country.

After joining the plantation program, the social restrictions on women employment has largely been removed. Social forestry is not only producing wood, fuel-wood and fruit and improving environmental condition, it is also playing a significant role in reducing poverty.

Environmental Health

Environmental health comprises those aspects of human health and disease that are determined by factors in the environment. It also refers to the theory and practice of assessing and controlling factors in the environment that can potentially affect health. Important sources of environmental health risks include industrial and medical waste, air emissions and water discharges, human waste, consumer products, living conditions, and ionizing and non-ionizing radiation. Health effects with known or suspected environmental etiologies include various health impacts of climate change, cancer, cardio-pulmonary diseases, asthma and other respiratory diseases, allergies, neuro-toxicity and neurological impairment, gastro-intestinal diseases, developmental and congenital abnormalities, and acute and chronic poisoning.

At present, Bangladesh is not fully aware of quantified estimates of the environmental-health burden. Given what is known about environmental health in other countries, it may be assumed that pollution and potentially environmental-related disease in Bangladesh is likely to be significant. But Bangladesh lacks sufficient expertise to assess this burden and has only limited environmental and health policies designed to reduce it. The core functional components of a national environmental health program should include an integrated research strategy, capacity development to monitor, assess and reduce environmental health risks and hazards, and academic and technical training for the expertise required to inform policy, develop regulatory standards, and guided decision-making. In order to create comprehensive environmental health capacity and a functional environmental health program in Bangladesh, there is need for improvement across sectors, including academia and research, government, industry and NGOs, as well as coordination and cooperation among these institutions.

The Bangladesh National Herbarium

The Bangladesh National Herbarium (BNH) is a research organization under the Ministry of Environment and Forest which deals with the exploration, collection, identification and preservation of plant resources of the country. All sorts of information of plant including diversity, abundance, locality, traditional uses etc. are preserved at Bangladesh National Herbarium. It plays an important role in the conservation of biodiversity and environment. The collection of the herbarium is a national property that goes down to the posterity through generations and work as reference materials on the flora of the country.

Since its creation in 1970, BNH has collected and preserved about one lac plant samples (including the duplicates). Detailed taxonomic descriptions with economic importance and botanical illustrations of 72 plant families in 60 fascicles have been published by the BNH under the Flora of Bangladesh. Other important works of the national herbarium include “Survey of Flora” under National Conservation Strategy (NCS), “Aquatic Angiosperms of Bangladesh”, “Red Book of Vascular Planta of Bangladesh” and many other books/research papers related to plant taxonomy. In addition National Herbarium has published “Traditional Uses of Ethno medicinal Plants of the Chittagong Hill Tracts” based on medicinal plants used by the tribal people of Chittagong Hill Tracts with the collaboration of the Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts. Apart from this, Bangladesh National Herbarium was actively engaged in the implementation of the project on the “Encyclopedia of Flora and Fauna of Bangladesh” sponsored by the Ministry of Environment and Forest. Furthermore, National Herbarium is preparing a database that will provide information on the collections of Bangladesh National Herbarium as well as of various plant species of the country.

Mainstream Poverty-Environment-Climate Nexus in National Planning Process

Poverty environment-climate mainstreaming aims to reverse environmental degradation in ways that will benefit the poor, and to enable sustainable economic development. Any poverty reduction effort must fully take into account the country’s vulnerability, susceptibility and capacity to manage environmental and climate risks and adaptation. This requires changing processes and decisions that impact on the environment. However, past experience suggests that many of these processes and decisions are outside the direct control of environment institutions. In Bangladesh, key institutions that impact on pro-poor environment outcomes include Planning Commission, Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Environment and Forest and Ministry of Finance. So it is vital that environment and climate issues that matter to the poor are “mainstreamed” into these institutions and their political and economic processes and decisions. The indicators for successful PECM are institutions, policies and investments that do not undermine pro-poor environment outcomes, instead positively contribute to livelihoods of both men and women.

Environmental Management Targets in the SFYP

  • Increase productive forest coverage by 2 percentage points.

  • Territorial coverage of protected area increased to 5% including Community Conservation Area (CCA) and Ecologically Critical Area (ECA)

  • Improve air quality in Dhaka and other large cities and enacted Clean Air Act

  • Treat all urban waste water by FY15 to clean river waters

  • Promote Zero discharge of industrial effluents.

  • Urban wetlands are restored and protected in line with Wetland Conservation Act

  • At least 10% of the wetland in peak dry season is protected as aquatic sanctuary

  • Jolmahal leasing system phased out in favour of pro-poor community based management

  • Regeneration and aforestation of 25,000 hectares of fresh water swamp forest in haor basin.

  • Risk Atlas for at least 7 cities/towns developed by 2015.

  • 500 meter wide permanent green belt established and protected along the coast

  • Eco-tourism promoted at least in 15 protected areas and ECAs

  • Comprehensive Marine Resources Management Plan developed

  • Land zoning for sustainable land/water use completed.

  • Environmental, Climate Change and disaster risk reduction considerations are integrated into project design, budgetary allocations and implementation process.

  • Canals and natural water flows of Dhaka and other major cities restored.

  • Increase energy efficiency by 10%

Challenges for the SFYP

Overall Challenges: Despite progress made in strengthening the implementation of environmental protection program, there is a substantial unfinished agenda that will need to be addressed in the SFYP. The most challenging task before us is to create a nexus of poverty, environment, climate change and disaster in the project/program planning and implementation process. Poverty, growth and environmental sustainability are inextricably bound together in Bangladesh. Some 32% of the population are poor and depend on an over-exploited and degrading natural resource base. Industrial and urban growth will improve economic livelihoods but already there are serious threats to environment and human health. Meanwhile, the vulnerability of the poor in a hazardous environment is set to be worsened by climate change and disasters. Addressing poverty-environment-climate-disaster issues is critical in assisting Bangladesh to meet its commitment to ensuring environmental sustainability (as part of the Millennium Development Goals). Amongst the most important challenge is environmentally sustainable use of natural resources and proper waste management that continues to pose serious health risks. Bangladesh remains a very poor country with large slums and weak urban services. Accordingly, proper waste management is a serious challenge. The air pollution is another top health concern that requires more effort. The DoE needs to be considerably strengthened, particularly to enable it to undertake environmental impact assessment as mandated by the Environment Conservation Rules promulgated under the Environment Conservation Act 1997. Enforcement of environmental standards is also a serious challenge.

Environmental Governance Challenges

Bangladesh in general is characterized by weak governance, and this is no different in the many aspects of environmental management. Institutional capacity is limited to ensure effective law enforcement, institutions have ill-defined responsibilities, transparency and accountability are also limited, and there are conflicting objectives in the extensive set of policies and plans that impinge on sustainable development. In response the government is working to reform the governance of the country, to reduce corruption and improve enforcement of the existing laws and standards. This offers opportunities for poverty environment mainstreaming. The governance is characterized by:

  • a) National government: limited implementation with some recent improvements;

  • b) Local government: decentralization being expanded, but poverty environment aspects need to be developed as a positive opportunity;

  • c) Civil society: diverse but fragmented;

  • d) NGOs: Over 12,000 NGOs in Bangladesh are part of a highly diverse sector ranging from vast service providers to small local welfare groups, pressure groups, and service contractors;

  • e) Private sector: huge potential for increasing incentives and motivation; and

  • f) Development partners: interest of most development partners on environmental issues is decreasing alarmingly

Challenges of natural resource management

Common Property Rights: Public commons includes natural resources such as land, open water resources in wetlands, forests, grasslands, grazing land, reed land, khas land, peat land, rivers, estuaries and the open seas. About 80 percent of the population depends directly or indirectly on the utilization of these resources. Increasing access to natural resources for rural poor is essential for reducing poverty. However, the resource base for poverty reduction are shrinking and degrading. The reasons are.

Integrated floodplain management: Agriculturist view floodplain as rice production fields. The fisheries sector sees floodplain as fish production grounds. Overall the national emphasis has been to produce more rice ignoring other benefits and products thus converting natural wetlands into rice fields. To the community dwelling in and around a floodplain it is their livelihood, not just a rice field. Floodplains provide many products and services which have been utilized by many people in rural communities for generations. Wetlands also are significant for the local and regional environment, including for biodiversity conservation.

River and other water body encroachment: A lot of causes are responsible for river and other water body encroachment in Bangladesh. Around 80 percent people of rural area are dependent on the river and surface water sources but due to severe encroachment and pollution of these water bodies, they cannot fulfill their daily demand. Several fish species and their breeding grounds are already lost and many are losing drastically. As the destruction process increase the concerned stakeholders such as fishermen, potter men, boatmen and boat makers etc are shrinking and becoming jobless and poor.

Wetlands: Wetlands in Bangladesh include ox-bow lake or baor, haor, beel, jheel, etc. are rich in vegetations, aquatic plants, reeds, algae and other aquatic fauna including diversity of fisheries. Wetlands have significant ecological, economic, commercial and socio-economic importance. The rural poor people mostly depend on these habitats for their livelihoods through fisheries, tourism activities, extraction of reed, harvesting of edible aquatic vegetation and their products, medicinal herbs, shell etc. Over the past 30 years, fishermen’s yields have decreased by 40 percent due to disappearing water sources.

Agricultural sustainability: Bangladesh has a total land surface of 12.31 million hectares, of which presently 7.85 million hectares are under agriculture, but this land is shrinking every year due to population growth. For example, in 1983-84, there was 20.0 million ha of total cultivable land, which dropped to 17.5 million ha in 1997. Modern agricultural development depends on HYV seeds, fertilizer, pesticide, herbicides which leads to build-up of toxicity. Clearing of vegetation, earth removal, road construction, shifting cultivation (Jhum) in the Chittagong hill regions, and cultivation practices in the Barind and Madhupur tracts etc. cause most of the land degradation. Increase in salinity of topsoil of the coastal districts has negatively affected agricultural production. Since the operation of Farakka barrage, the environment in the southwest region of Bangladesh has been adversely affected by increase in salinity.

Fisheries sustainability: Fisheries in Bangladesh are classified into capture fishers and aquaculture farmers. There are also culture-based inland fisheries, in which the natural productivity of the aquatic ecosystem is utilized, though fishermen need to acquire access rights. An estimated 1.3 million people depend on fisheries for livelihood. Poor fishermen in Bangladesh are disadvantaged by policies that favored powerful people leasing fishing rights. Coastal shrimp aquaculture of Bangladesh inside the embankments has been boosting the national economy, in particular the poverty prone coastal peoples. Development of shrimp aquaculture has created negative environmental impacts such as habitat destruction, pressure on fisheries resources, salinisation of agricultural land, pathogen intensity due to introduction of exotic species and nutrient pollution. Presently shrimp farming is the best option for providing relatively well paid employment to the poor. However the unplanned shrimp culture expansion has led to social conflicts over land tenure and user rights, leading to marginalization of small rice farmers who have been forced to lease out their lands to large shrimp farmers.

Haor development: Northeastern part of Bangladesh especially Sunamganj, Sylhet and Netrokona districts are located in one of the depressed geographical regions of the country. Most of the rivers in these areas originated from nearby hilly areas of India. These rivers are extremely flashy and are characterized by sudden and wide variations in flow as a result of excessive rainfall. When heavy rainfall occurs in the hilly regions of India, water quickly moves towards the haor areas of Bangladesh through a number of rivers and canals. In such situation, standing crops generally cannot be harvested, communication disrupted and basic services and facilities become inaccessible for the affected community.

Livestock sustainability: Livestock rearing is one of the major means of earning for the poor people. As the population of the country is increasing the grazing land are becoming scarce. The nutrient cycling, soil organic contents and fertility for the production of the natural resources are also hampered. Thus dependency of the poor drastically decreases from this sector (i.e. rearing of goat, buffalo, cow, etc) particularly from the salinitized coastal areas. This sector is now suffering from bird flu, malnutrition etc. The first officially announced bird flu outbreak in Bangladesh occurred in February 2007. AI has caused a loss of more than Tk 4,100 crore. A large number of peoples lost their livelihood due to bird flu outbreak and many more may lose their jobs.

Forest sustainability: Poverty reduction through social forestry is now success story within Forestry Sector of Bangladesh. About 0.335 millions rural poor are now engaged directly to the participatory co-management approach in the social forestry program. Total forestland of Bangladesh is about 2.53 million hectares covering about 17.14 percent of the country. However rapid deforestation is also taking place because of population increase, increased demand for forest products, conversion of forestland into agricultural, industrial land, urbanization and development of infrastructures. Forest coverage declined from about 15 percent of the total area to 5 percent. Deforestation rate was 0.9 percent in 1970, but rose to 2.7 percent in 1984-90. Bangladesh has less than 0.02 hectares of forest land per person, one of the lowest ratios in the world. If the current trend continues, forests are likely to disappear in the next 35-40 years.

Ecosystem and biodiversity loss: Population pressure, conversion of forestland and wetland into agricultural land, overexploitation of forest products and excessive withdrawal of water, relentless wetland depletion due to overexploitation of both flora and fauna are causing great harm to biodiversity. Agro-diversity has gone down and this limits potential of further growth in this sector. A large section of terrestrial diversity of plants and animals is being threatened due to deforestation. Similarly, aquatic diversity is also under pressure due to the drying up of rivers, reduction of flow of water, and accumulation of pesticide residues.

Protected area (PA): There are 16 Protected Areas in Bangladesh, of which 7 are National Parks, 8 Wildlife Sanctuaries and 1 Game Reserve. The total area of PA is 244,182 hectares which is 9.7 percent of the total forests areas of the country. Out of 16 Protected Areas, 15 are notified under the Bangladesh Wildlife Order 1973. The biggest protected area in Bangladesh is the Sundarbans (a World Heritage Site) West Wildlife Sanctuary with an area of 71502.13 hectares and the smallest Protected Area is the Ramsagar National Park with an area of 27.76 hectares. There are 4 Marine protected areas, of which 3 are wildlife sanctuaries situated in Sundarbans and one is Nizum Dweep National Park situated in the mangrove forests in Noakhali. Biological zoning approach has been adopted in PA to ensure the protection of wildlife species and floral habitats.

Ecologically critical areas: Government of Bangladesh has declared 11 areas as Ecologically Critical Area (ECA) under environmental conservation act, 1995. This is usually the development control zones to enhance the power of community based conservation initiatives as opposed to the complete protection in protected area systems around the country.

Coastal zone management: The coastal zone of Bangladesh is highly fertile and characterized by rich biodiversity and natural resources. Recently, coastal Bangladesh has also attracted attention for its high potential of inshore and offshore natural gas, minerals, aquaculture, food availability, tourism industry and tidal power. However, this zone is extremely susceptible to the impacts of natural disasters such as cyclones, sea level rise, storm surge and loss of habitable land mass. Coastal Bangladesh consists of 19 districts that comprise 2.85 million hectares in area, 200 km in length including 148,000 square km of crisscrossed rivers.

Land degradation, river erosion, and displacement: Land degradation is a serious problem for Bangladesh due to natural and human activities. Natural degradation is caused by flood, steep slopes, high rainfall, strong leaching in both humid and dry situation. Human activities causing degradation is mainly inappropriate land management practices. Rivers in Bangladesh are morphologically highly dynamic and form islands in between the braiding channels. These islands, many of which are inhabited, are extremely sensitive to changes in the river conditions. Erosions are highly unpredictable. Out of the 462 administrative units, more than 100 are subject to riverbank erosion and affected more than 2 million people annually.

Drought and floods: Drought causes water shortage that leads to stream flow reduction, depletion of ground water and soil moisture, and hence crop damage almost every year in different parts of Bangladesh mostly during the pre-monsoon and post-monsoon periods. In agricultural context, drought affects the rice production most. Bangladesh is also a land of many rivers and as a result the country is subject to inundation. Some 30 to 35 percent of the total land surface is flooded every year during monsoon. Although normal floods are considered a blessing for Bangladesh providing vital moisture and fertility to the soil, but abnormal floods are considered disastrous for widespread damage to crops and properties.

Ground water depletion: One of the root causes of drought is wide installation of shallow and deep tube wells for agricultural irrigation. This process does not run in an environmentally friendly manner and as a result ground water table has fallen. Groundwater situation is also experiencing difficulties because shallow aquifer level is disappearing due to fast depletion of groundwater table. Experts say regulation of water flow in the Ganges at Farakka point by India has caused a reduction of dry season flow. Decreased flow in the Padma and its distributaries has affected the pump irrigation.

Trans-boundary river linking plan: The proposed river linking project of India will involve rivers, many of which are also shared by Bangladesh. It is widely predicted that the proposed Indian River-linking project, if implemented, will bring catastrophic consequences for the people of Bangladesh. It will cause a major ecological disaster and desertification of the vast areas, and consequently, will lead to displacement of huge number of population of Bangladesh.

Hill cutting: The present illegal and unauthorized hill cutting in greater Chittagong especially in Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachhari is continued and as such unabated despite mudslides commenced during the monsoon with the run off. The poor inhabitants at the ground level of the mountains and hills is thus facing the disastrous soil erosion and landslide which again impacted as loss of their houses and other belongings.

Exotic plant, trees and aquatic organisms: Many tree and plant species have invaded Bangladesh, and some are threat to native varieties. Eupatorium odoratum (Ayapan) and Mikania cordata (Assam lata) are two invaders that overtop the canopy of shrubs and young tree saplings. Croton bonplandianum (Bon khira) and Lantana camara (Nak phul) grow along the edges of forest and wastelands and invade local vegetation. Moreover, there are at least 32 fish species have been introduced in the country. The impact of alien species on indigenous species has not been studied. Among the exotics, tilapia of two species, Oreochromis mosambicus and niloticus have caused concerns because these species have invaded all available habitats. Besides Eihhornia crassipes (Kachuri pana) is a notorious weed of fresh water ecosystem and zebra mussel of port areas which invaded to Bangladesh hundred years before.

Invasion through maritime zone: The Bangladesh boundary in the Bay of Bengal is not settled yet after 37 years of independence. This boundary dispute intensified due to its legal share of natural resources like fisheries, oil and gas, management of the Sundarbans, illegal dumping of hazardous wastes, etc. Delay in claiming its maritime territories, Bangladesh has allowed both India and Myanmar to creep into Bangladeshi territory in the Bay of Bengal.

Vector epidemic (virus such as bird flu, bacteria etc.): Various flues had been attacked in Bangladesh after certain intervals since centuries. The recently attacked bird flu is not new but of different dimension. There is a strong possibility of the virus mutating so that it can be transferred from bird to human and then human to human.

Environmental Management Objectives in the SFYP

In light of the long-run consequences of environmental degradation to the country’s ecosystem and citizen’s welfare, the Government has set a number of goals to attain a sustainable environment on the one hand and to address the fallout of climate change on the other. These goals are crystallized as the main objectives relating to environment and Climate Change under the SFYP as follows:

  • To promote pro-poor and appropriate environment management system for sustainable development.

  • To ensure conservation of biodiversity and its sustainable utilization.

  • To promote indigenous and scientific strategies for mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

  • To ensure active participation of the poor, especially the women and ethnic communities in environment management activities at all levels.

  • To promote environment friendly activities in development interventions.

  • To preserve, protect and ensure wise use of the natural resource base.

  • To strengthen the capability of public and private sectors to manage environmental concerns.

  • To monitor, control and prevent environmental pollution and degradation related to soil, water and air.

  • To find integrated solutions that avoid ‘development vs. environment’ arguments, institutional tensions, and associated costs;

  • To enable more efficient planning of environmental assets and environmental hazard management;

  • To support technological innovation that is informed and inspired by nature;

  • To support informed policy debate and formulation on big issues;

  • To improve the productivity, resilience and adaptability of local, sectoral, national and indeed global social and economic systems – reducing the risk of collapses and the need for short-term ‘bail-outs’.

  • To initiate actions with regard to obligations under international treaties and conventions for minimizing adverse impact on global environment.

  • To promote cooperation with regional and international institutions/organizations to address regional and global environmental problems.

  • To undertake research and development for innovating technology in national perspective and application of modern technology, information exchange and benefit sharing with other countries.

  • To create public awareness, in order to participate in environment promotion activities.

  • To undertake Strategic Environmental Assessment of National Policies, Plans and Strategies for upstream analysis and ensure the Environmental Impact Assessment of Development Projects and Actions and environmental reporting.

  • Upgrade environmental governance and accountability system in all development activities in Bangladesh.

  • Mainstream Poverty, Environment, Climate Change and Disaster Nexus in the Development Planning, Budgeting and Implementation Process.

  • To improve air quality through clean fuel and vehicle.

  • To promote public-private partnership in environment management.

  • To promote 3R (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) strategy for waste management.

  • To improve air quality in major cities through monitoring and prevention measure.

  • To establish Environment Management System (EMS) in Industries for pollution control.

  • To reduce dependency on fossil fuel by promoting solar/green energy.

  • To ensure culture of resilience in all development activities across sectors.

  • To ensure the capacity building of poor and vulnerable group and local government in sustainable natural resource management, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

Strategies in the SFYP

The agenda for attaining a sustainable environment for the long-term is daunting and it can hardly be over-emphasized. To translate the above objectives into reality, the Government is undertaking the following policies, strategies and programs for the environment sub-sector during the SFYP:

  • National Environment Council headed by the Prime Minister and executive committee of National Environment Council headed by the Minister for Environment and Forests would be activated.

  • Environment committees at Division, District and Upazila levels will be activated with the participation of all stakeholders.

  • Existing environmental laws and regulations will be amended to address new environmental issues.

  • Department of Environment will be strengthened in the light of existing Environment Policy, Environmental Act, Rules and Environment Management Action Plan in order to coordinate, monitor and implement these activities.

  • Drafting of EIA guidelines for all sectors under the Environment Conservation Act (ECA) 1995 will be formulated.

  • Sectoral legislations are to be reviewed and redrafted in light of Bangladesh’s commitments expressed through signing and ratifying of a number of International Conventions and Protocols on environment.

  • ‘Polluters Pay Principle’ will be followed in order to ensure strict compliance of environment legislation.

  • Incentives, in the form of tax-rebate, tax-holiday etc. will be provided and incremental cost incurred by the Environment-friendly entrepreneurs will be met in various forms/sources.

  • ‘National Environment Fund’ will be established in order to provide assistance to the victims of environment degradation caused by the natural disasters and anthropogenic activities.

  • Environmental Impact Assessment will be made while processing each development project requiring approval of the Government.

  • Enhance whole of government’s capacity to mainstream poverty-environment-climate nexus in the development project design, budgetary process, project implementation and monitoring process.

Sub Sectoral Strategies Under the SFYP

Preparation of National Land Policy

The optimum use of land and water depends on planned use of land, water resources and natural environment which are the important sources of the growth. It is possible to ensure optimum use of scarce land resources by way of integrating the uses of these three natural resources. With this end in view, the Government has approved ‘National Land Use Policy, Bangladesh’ in June 2001. The Government has adopted various other national policies and measures to prevent land depletion. Notable among them include ‘The National Environment Policy’, ‘National Environment Act and Rules’, ‘National Forestry Policy’ and ‘The National Plan for Agricultural Research’.

In light of ‘National Land Use Policy 2001’ the Land Ministry has taken initiatives for specific policies as discussed below:

  • An inter-ministerial committee has been formed for preparing a draft law on “Krishi Jomi Surakkha O Bhumi Zoning Ain 2010” (Protection of Agricultural Land and Land Zoning Law, 2010”.

  • A draft of the policy on “Haat-Bazarer Khas Jomi Babosthapona O Bohutol Market Ba Bhaban Nirman Nitimala, 2010” (Management of ‘Khas’ Land of Bazars and Construction of Multistoried Market or Building Policies) has been prepared which will be placed in the Cabinet soon.

  • “Balu Mohal O Mati Babosthapona Aain, 2010” (Sand Fields and Soil Management Act, 2010) has been tabled to the National Parliament as bill for necessary approval.

  • An inter-ministerial committee has been formed for finalizing the draft act on “Gram Unnoyon Ain” (Village Improvement Act).

  • “Jalmohal Babosthapona Niteemala” (Water Bodies Management Policy) - this policy has been made in order to efficiently manage the water bodies to benefit the poor fishermen and women for their income generation and livelihood improvement.

  • The project on “Gucchogram (Climate Victims Rehabilitation Project)” is an ongoing project. 207 cluster villages will be constructed with a view to rehabilitate 10650 climate victim land less families. They will be given houses, income generating training and microcredit. Implementation period of the project is January 2009-June 2012.

  • “Krishi Khas Jomi Babosthapona Niteemala” (State-owned Agricultural Land Settlement Policy)-this policy is to distribute the state-owned agricultural land to the poor landless households for their rehabilitation and livelihood improvement.

National Water Management

Bangladesh is endowed with a good number of water bodies scattered all over the country. WARPO maintains a National Water Resources Database (NWRD) established at WARPO under NWMP project that preserve and disseminate information/data of country’s water sector including information data of other related sectors. There are analytical tools analyzing information. Different organizations use data of NWRD in their planning and research works. Updating and upgrading of NWRD will be done under Water Management Improvement Project (WMIP) to be implemented by December 2014. A 5- tier web-enabling database has been created for coastal zones. 5 layers of ICRD include Presentation, application server, data server, web server and spatial data engine.

Waste Management

The main strategy for ensuring better waste management is to establish accountable municipalities and city corporations that will have primary accountability to ensure that urban waste management is properly handled. This is admittedly a long-term challenge, yet progress with this important institutional reform holds the key to better management of urban waste. The underlying policies will include encouragement of private waste collection facilities, improving the slums, public education, strengthening the water and sanitation authorities, and better management and disposal of accumulated waste.

Forestry Sub-Sector

Past Performance of the Sector

There is an estimated 2.52 million ha of land as forest land which is only 17.49 percent of the total land area of the country. Out of this total forest land 2.25 million ha. is owned by the government as classified and unclassified forests and 0.27 million ha is owned privately. Government forest land, managed by the Forest Department, covers both natural and plantation forest. Out of 64 districts, 28 districts had no public forest in the past. But now almost all districts have been brought under forest coverage through social forestry program. In the past plans, the main emphasis was to expand forests and to increase supply of timber and wood. The ever increasing population of Bangladesh is creating pressure on existing government managed forest resources and has resulted in over exploitation of such resources. Such marginal land utilization through peoples’ participation for forestry development has been launched in early eighties and continued till the last five year plan. Due to implementation of Social Forestry Program through people’s participation, about 0.40 million ha. of land has been brought under forest coverage. Nevertheless, wide-spread destruction, clearing of forest land for agriculture and settlement etc. has been a common scenario of this country that undermined the success of achieving 20 percent forest coverage by the end of 2015.

With a view to intensify forest management in the government managed forest area, number of Integrated Management Plans for different Forest Divisions has been produced. Number of feasibility study report, base line survey report and technical report has been produced for future activities. GIS/MIS have been established to keep pace with modern technology in the forest sector. GIS support has been extended up to sub-block map of the major forest divisions. PBMS has been created on pilot basis and ready for replication in the major forest divisions to facilitate digitization of information as part of MIS and data transfer in the forest administration through LAN/WAN. During the Fifth Five Year Plan due attention was given to aforestation of the newly accreted lands. Green belt was established in the coastal zone to serve as shelterbelt during cyclone and tidal surge. Qualitative improvement of natural forest through artificial regeneration was also given priority. In support of environmental and biodiversity conservation, extraction in the natural forest was discouraged. World Heritage Site has been declared in the Sundarbans. Emphasis was given and accordingly initiatives have been taken to establish national park, botanical garden and eco-park in selected areas. Establishment of regional botanical garden has been proposed in connection with biodiversity conservation in the country. Participation in the national and international seminar, workshop, symposium and conference period have further strengthened forestry knowledge. Also, human resources were developed and the efficiency and effectiveness of forest management has improved.

During the Fifth Five Year Plan Forest plantation was 65,632 ha against the target of 1,90,938 ha showing 34 percent achievement. Strip plantation was established about 23,000 km. against the target of 24,500 km. representing about 95 percent achievement during the Fifth Five Year Plan. Seedling raising for distribution and sale to the people as well as for institutional and homestead plantation was the best success out of different targets of the Fifth Five Year Plan. Total achievement in the seedling raising superseded the target. As per forest policy, NGOs were also encouraged to participate in the forestry program. Extension and training of the social forestry program might be termed as extensive one. Facilities for education and research including eco-tourism have been initiated. Such initiative will continue in the forthcoming 6th five year plan.. Botanical garden and eco-park was established to facilitate conservation activities in the country. Each year, during planting season, organization of Tree Fair Program has become as a regular national program. Infrastructural development, procurements of vehicles, equipments and other logistics have been developed through different projects and will continue in future. Institutional and legal reforms have also received due attention during Fifth Five Year Plan. Reorganization of Forest Department has been another success where the reorganization strength of Forest Department is 259 officers and 8422 staffs.

Plantation establishment in hill forest during plan period was 32,000 ha. against the target of 1,05,000 ha. Reason behind the les success of such plantation in hill forest was manifold such as inadequate allocation in the ADP, Non approval of projects and complexity of land tenure.

Coastal aforestation and enrichment plantation target for the plan period was 20,000 ha. This target was achieved in time. Redland, wetland and char-land plantation target was 15,000 ha. Achievement against this target was 1,000 ha. which was also far below the target. Reason behind such poor success was because of adjournment of the project on Reed Land Aforestation. Char land plantation target have been included in the Forestry Sector Project. But due to imposing condition by the ADB such activities have been delayed.

Agro-forestry, woodlot, and farm land aforestation target was 40,000 ha. In particular farm land aforestation program was done through external financing. But that was not successful. Conditions imposed by ADB on Forestry Sector Project were another factor that hampered to achieve the target of agro-forestry and woodlot plantation. Strip plantation is achieved 95 percent against the target fixed in the Fifth Five Year Plan.

To improve the non-timber forest products in the country, as outlined in the forest policy, the target for bamboo cane and murta plantation during the plan period was fixed to 8,000 ha. Achievement against this target was 3,528 hectare, which was only 44 percent and might be termed as poor. But reason behind such achievement was because of inadequate allocation in the ADP.

The target for raising plantation in the vacant land in the tea garden, around pond banks and in the Barind Tract gullyes were 2,938 ha. But the achievement for such target was not notable. Limited activities have been initiated only for gully and pond banks.

There was a target to rehabilitate 3,000 Jhumia families in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. But it was seemed great challenge for this sector. Only 18 Jhumia families were rehabilitated. However ten thousand distressed freedom fighters were rehabilitated through establishing ten thousand nurseries in the country. Social forestry training has been provided to these distressed freedom fighters.

Achievements against the target of the Fifth Five Year Plan, in some cases, found to be less than success or poor success. But the fact was that as per ADP allocation during the financial year of the plan period was more than a success. The total allocation for the Fifth Five Year Plan including BFRI, BFIDC and National Herbarium was Taka 69,821.00 lac and the total ADP (1997-98 to 2001-2002) allocation was Taka 54,520.91 lac. The total of five year ADP allocation was only 78 percent to the Fifth Five Year Plan target. On the other hand total expenditure during the plan period was Taka 49235.96 lac which was 91 percent of the total five year ADP allocation and 72 percent to the plan allocation respectively.

Activities Taken Under PRSP (2002-2003 to 2009-2010)

Several initiatives were taken to increase forestry coverage and strengthen forestry management. For better management of Forest Resources, administrative Forest Divisions were divided into three administrative divisions. These are: (i) Chittagong Forest Division with oversight for Chittagong North Forest Division and Chittagong South Forest Division; (ii) Sundarban Reserved Forest Division with oversight for Sundarban East Forest Division (head quarter at Bagerhat) and Sundarban West Forest Division (head quarter at Khulna); and (iii) Cox’s Bazar Forest Division with oversight for Cox’s Bazar North Forest Division and Cox’s Bazar South Forest Division. Each Forest Division is headed by a Deputy Conservator of Forests. These improved administrative arrangements are having a positive impact on forestry management.

To reduce encroachment and over-exploitation, the co-management concept was initiated in different protected areas in Bangladesh. Protecting and co-managing forests by developing and formalizing a collaborative arrangement between stakeholders of local communities of forests will provide the incentive to protect the common resources for social benefit. This was successfully demonstrated by implementing the Nishorgo Support Project funded by the USAID. Some 5 protected areas were included in this program. This program was extended to another 14 protected areas in Bangladesh under Integrated Protected Area Co- management (IPAC).

Emphasis was also placed on the implementation of social forestry programs. Through beneficiary participation huge amount of land have been brought under forest coverage. This was formalized by enacting the Social Forestry Rule, 2004.

Objectives under the SFYP

The main objectives during the Sixth Five Year Plan are to expand forest resources, make forests productive, develop institutional capabilities, and to encourage people’s participation. About 20 percent forest coverage by the end of 2015 has been expected in the Twenty Years Master Plan (1995-2015) prepared for Forestry Sub Sector. Accordingly the plantation target had been fixed in the last Three Years Rolling Plan, MTBF and Fifth Five Year Plan. Under the present trend of allocation, it is not possible to achieve that target of 20 percent forest coverage by the end of 2015. Despite 91 percent utilization of allocation which was 72 percent of the planed allocation, only 1 percent new forest coverage has been created. Considering the allocation constraints this Sixth Five Year Plan has been estimated only with 4 percent target of new forest coverage that will be created through different types of forest plantations.

However this small target might be increased to 4 to 5 percent depending on the foreign investment. As the investment policy is favorable, investment from donors are still expected to increase the plantation target during the Sixth Five Year Plan. National responsibilities and commitments will be fulfilled by implementing various international efforts and government ratified agreements relating to global warming, clean development mechanism, desertification and control of trade and commerce of wild life birds and animals. Tissue culture, root trainer nursery development, vegetative propagation etc will receive due attention:

  1. Conserve and protect the eco-system for bio-diversity and overall environmental stability;

  2. Watershed management and soil conservation;

  3. Ensure greater contribution of the forestry sector in the economic development;

  4. Continue and expand people-oriented aforestation program for poverty alleviation and increased employment opportunity including women;

  5. Achieve meaningful participation of local people, local government bodies, NGOs and government agencies in forestry program;

  6. Promote multiple land use technology like agro-forestry to ensure increased productivity and supplement agricultural production;

  7. Strengthen forestry extension activities to transfer improved technology and research information to end-users, e.g., local people and private homesteads;

  8. Increase facilities for education, need-oriented co-oriented research and experimental works;

  9. Human resources development;

  10. Encourage private plantation of rubber, teak, mango, jackfruit and other high-value trees;

  11. Facilities for eco-tourism and recreation;

  12. Mass initiative to be taken under Clean Development Mechanism and REDD;

Policies, Strategy and Program

In line with the above objectives, policies, strategies and programs for the forestry sub-sector during the Sixth Five Year Plan will be as follows:

  1. Moratorium on felling in the natural forest will continue. Existing scattered and denuded hill forests will be replanted to increase productivity. Scientific management principles will be strictly followed to restore productivity of these lands.

  2. An estimated 250,000.00 hectare land of hill forest and 7000.00 hectare of plain land forest will be planted during the plan period. Productivity of plantations will have to be increased manifold. Multi-purpose trees will receive special attention to increase the productivity of land under forest.

  3. People’s participation will be incorporated in all forest development activities. Integration of tree plantation and crop cultivation will be practiced. Program to rehabilitate the sal forests will be taken up as part of important development activities.

  4. The existing coastal aforestation and enrichment plantation will also be continued. The existing mature coastal plantations will remain. An area of 40,000.00 hectare will be planted and replanted in the coastal areas. SRF is presently engulfed with severe ecological problems. Special attention will be given to the Sundarbans Reserve Forest (SRF) for its biodiversity conservation.

  5. To prevent the extent of damage by cyclones and tidal surges, Coastal Green Belt will be created and seedling will be raised to distribute or sale in the coastal zone.

  6. The redlands of Sylhet has long been lying unutilized. Under the Sixth Five Year Plan 5000.00 ha. of redlands will be planted.

  7. Development and establishment of different eco-parks and botanical gardens, safari park, national park have already been initiated during the Fifth Five Year Plan. Such activities will be continued under this Sixth Five Year Plan. Establishment of regional botanical garden will set uniform biodiversity conservation initiative in the country.

  8. Social forestry has now become a social movement in Bangladesh. Social forestry program will continue for expansion and strengthening of thana nurseries, union level nurseries, expansion and strengthening of forest extension and nursery training centers. Raising of 30,000.00 km. of strip plantations are estimated target for the plan period. Social Forestry Rule, 2004 is going to be changed to fulfill the current need. It is under process in the ministry. Local government bodies will co-ordinate the aforestation program at the grassroots level under this program. During the Sixth Plan, NGOs will be more directly involved in aforestation program. They will motivate people through informal training and other extension sources and will help the Forest Department to implement such program.

  9. Past record indicates that wood energy contributes 13 percent of the total fuel consumption of the country. Wood fuel is the most important form of energy for domestic use in rural areas. In Bangladesh, domestic cooking consumes 65 percent of fuel wood and the rest 35 percent is consumed by the industrial and commercial sectors. For the prevailing demand through social forestry, short/medium rotation fast growing tree species have been planted along the roads and embankments, and on marginal and follow lands with active participation of local people. BCSIR has developed efficient wood burning oven. Further research programs on development of wood fuel, efficient wood, etc., will be undertaken in the plan period to reduce strain on wood supply. Technical assistance may be required for this purpose.

  10. Non-wood forest products have substantial potentials for economic benefit. Bamboo, cane, murta, medicinal plants, honey, wax, gol-patta, etc. will be developed during the Sixth Five Year Plan in a systematic way. The Sixth Five Year Plan targets to cover 7500.00 ha. of Bamboo, cane and murta plantation. Honey, wax and gol-patta will also receive special attention for improvement during the plan period.

  11. Emphasis will be given for forest land survey and updating the land record. Initiative has been made through formulating project which is expected to be implemented during the Sixth Five Year Plan. Forest areas will be demarcated to avoid unlawful encroachments.

  12. Presently, only 1.70 percent of the total land area falls under protected land area category which is about 10 percent of the total forest land. The protected area will be increased to 15 percent of the total forest land during the Sixth Five Year Plan period. Effective management for all the protected areas will be established. Regional botanical garden will be established in the northern and southern region. People’s participation will be effectively utilized in conserving resources in the respective zones. Ban on the use of fuel wood in brick fields will continue and be made more effective and other modes of efficient use of energy will be promoted, e.g., improved cooking stove. Moreover, programs will be developed and implemented to protect the threatened, endangered species of flora and fauna and the fragile eco-system. Wildlife farming of deer and reptile like crocodiles, iguana, snakes and frogs, etc., will be encouraged and promoted on a commercial basis through private initiatives.

  13. watershed management, wetland conservation etc. will be initiated in the new area and also will be intensified in the old area for better conservation of nature in the country during the plan period.

Private Forests

In Bangladesh the village forest area is computerized of only 0.27 million ha. But this forest has been meeting most of the demand for forest products like timber, firewood etc. Over the years the village forests including the homesteads have grown into a major source of forest products especially with the initiative and involvement of local people. However, during the earlier plan periods, supports were preceded from the government mainly in terms of technical back-up and extension services. More support is necessary to establish this as a sustainable source of forest resources especially for promoting multi-purpose tree species for high productivity. Extension, training and credit facilities will be provided to encourage the private sector to undertake rubber, teak, jackfruit and other high value crop plantation on a commercial basis.

With the successful implementation of social forestry, thana aforestation, homestead forestry, farm forestry and agro-forestry programs/projects, increasing investment is coming up in the private sector as well as in the public sector. An amount of Tk. 5000.00 million is projected to be invested by the private sector for nursery development, seedling raising, plantation, maintenance etc., in the Sixth Plan period.

Managing Climate Change

Bangladesh is one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world and will become even more so as a result of climate change. Floods, tropical cyclones, storm surges and draughts are likely to become more frequent and severe in the coming years. It is argued that the signs of the future changes have already begun to become apparent. These changes will threaten the significant achievements Bangladesh has made over the last 20 years in increasing incomes and reducing poverty, and will make it more difficult to achieve the MDGs. It is therefore essential that Bangladesh prepares now to adapt to climate change and safeguard the future well-being of its citizen. Recently the issue of protection of the environment assumed special importance because of the accumulation of evidence of global warming and the associated climate change that it is likely to accompany. Climate Change is not the only problem of environmental degradation, the problem runs far deep and its reach in destabilizing many of the natural systems is potentially immense.

Over the past years, the Government of Bangladesh has invested over $10 billion to make the country less vulnerable to natural disasters. These investments, in many cases supported by development partners, include flood management schemes, coastal polders, cyclone and flood shelters, and the raising of roads and highways above flood level. In addition, the GoB has developed state-of-the-art warning systems for floods, cyclones and storm surges, and is expanding community-based disaster preparedness. Climate resilient varieties of rice and other crops have also been developed.

The challenge Bangladesh now faces is to scale up these investments to create a suitable environment for the economic and social development of the country and to secure the well-being of the people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable groups, including women and children. The Government of Bangladesh’s Vision is to eradicate poverty and achieve economic and social well-being for all the people. This will be achieved through a pro-poor Climate Change Management Strategy, which prioritizes adaptation and disaster risk reduction, and also addresses low carbon development, mitigation, technology transfer and the mobilization and international provision of adequate finance.

Implications of Climate Change in the Context of Bangladesh

Human-induced changes in the global climate and associated sea level rise are widely accepted by policy makers and scientists. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that “the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate”. The exact magnitude of the changes in the global climate is still uncertain and subject of worldwide scientific studies. It is broadly recognized that Bangladesh is vulnerable to these changes because it is low-lying, located on the Bay of Bengal in the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna and is densely populated. Its national economy strongly depends on agriculture and natural resources that are sensitive to climate change and sea level rise.

Studies on climate change in Bangladesh report that the surface average temperature has been rising, though there is no agreement in these studies on the rate of change. Available literature suggests that a general warming is expected in future, where the rate of warming will be higher for the winter months (i.e., December, January and February) than the monsoon months (i.e., June, July, August).

There is a great deal of local-level perception-based evidence that the rainfall pattern has become erratic in recent years, if not in recent decades. However, the official agency has ruled out any possibility of drastic change in rainfall patterns beyond climate change. Intriguingly, a bi-modal shift in rainfall behavior has already been reported and rainfall may contribute to recent shifts in hydrological peaks in various rivers of Bangladesh. Local level experience and anecdotal evidence clearly show that in both Gaibandha and Jamalpur, people now observe two to three flood peaks instead of one, as the latter had been regularly observed decades ago.

Increased susceptibility to natural disasters: All the above phenomena clearly highlight the increased hazard susceptibility in terms of flood, drought, storm surge and salinity ingress in Bangladesh. As it has been reported in many articles, floods will be more intense, will inundate more areas and occasionally will perhaps prolong to devastate people’s livelihoods, national economy and infrastructure. Similarly, literature suggest that the central western region will be hit hard due to exacerbated drought and marginal farmers would not be able to maintain livelihood thrusts by switching technologies to offset moisture stress. Simultaneously, increased salinity would tend to reduce crop suitability throughout the southwestern region and perhaps appear to be a deterring factor for industrial activities in the affected areas.

Coastal impacts - water logging: A northward shift in isohaline lines under climate change would compound the already alarming effect of water logging in the southwestern region. It has been reported that the sea surface temperatures along the northern Indian Ocean (i.e., Bay of Bengal) has gradually been rising steadily. Though there is no evidence that the frequency of occurrence of cyclone along the Bay of Bengal has actually changed over the past five decades due to rising sea surface temperatures that cyclone intensity might be increased by as much as 10% due to increased warming. A devastating example that Bangladesh has been observing in this regard is the Aila affected areas in Satkhira, Khulna and Bagerhat district.

Coastal impacts-rough seas and cyclones: There is a strong correlation between increasing sea surface temperatures and the occurrence of too many rough sea events in the recent years. High wind actions have been causing economic damage to fisher folks by quickly damaging the traditional boats.

High wind actions have been eroding sea-facing coastal islands; even embankments located far inland than the open sea. Sudden breaches in embankments have been destroying standing crops, inundating crop lands with saline water, thereby diminishing economic potential of the coastal lands, and forcing poor people to out-migrate from the affected areas by destroying their livelihoods.

A potential implication would be that future storm surges might be even higher than those observed currently. About 1.2 million hectares of arable land are affected by varying degree of soil salinity, tidal flooding during wet season, direct inundation by saline water and upward and lateral movement of saline ground water during dry season. Inundation of brackish water for shrimp farming is key causes for secondary salinisation of coastal lands. The severity of salinity problem has increased over the years and expected in increase in future due to sea level rise.

Increased drought posed higher risk: North-western region (Barind tract) of Bangladesh is normally drought prone. Droughts are associated with the late arrival or an early withdrawal of monsoon rains and also due to intermittent dry spells coinciding with critical stages of T. Aman rice. Droughts in May and June destroy broadcast Aman, Aus and jute. Inadequate rains in July delay transplantation of Aman in high Barind areas, while droughts in September and October reduce yields of both broadcast and transplanted Aman and delay the sowing of pulses and potatoes. Boro, wheat and other crops grown in the dry season are also periodically affected by drought.

Global Response to Climate Change & its Implication for Bangladesh

The first definitive action came in 1992 at the UN Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro. The Conference established the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, or, Convention) which came into force in 1994. Countries which have signed the Convention and ratified are called Parties (194 in number). A Conference of Parties takes place every year. Linked to the Convention, a protocol has been signed in 1997 in Kyoto (hence called Kyoto Protocol) which came into effect much later in 2005. The Kyoto Protocol is a legally binding instrument under which industrialized countries committed themselves to a lowering of emission on an average of 5% below the 1990 level. The first commitment period ends in 2012. Bangladesh is among the least responsible countries for polluting stratosphere with GHG but it is the worst recipient of stress from the climatic perturbations.

Bangladesh Climate Change Action Plan

Bangladesh prepared the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP) in 2008 and revised it in 2009. This is now an approved document of the Government. This is expected to be the blue print for subsequent integration of climate change issues such as adaptation, technology transfer, mitigation and development, and capacity building into the mainstream planning process.

The BCCSAP takes the Bangladesh submission on Bali Road Map, particularly the 4 securities, as the starting point and develops a strategy of sustainable development centered on the issue of climate change. The programs mainly fall under development of crop varieties and development of technology suitable for agricultural production under various adverse climatic conditions that are likely to materialize in future. Three of the themes including food and livelihood security fall under adaptation which is the prime need of the country. The other two adaptation programs relate to construction and maintenance of necessary infrastructure, particularly those related to water management. The third important area is disaster management as disaster risk reduction and post-disaster rehabilitation are going to engage a lot of energy and resources of the country due to climate change. Under the action plan, there are six major themes and 44 programs:

  • Food Security, Social Protection and Health: The very first relates to ensuring food and livelihood security, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable in society, including women and children. It focuses on the needs of this group for food security, safe housing, employment and access to basic services, including health.

  • Comprehensive Disaster Management: This is to further strengthen the country’s already proven disaster management systems to deal with increasingly frequent and severe natural calamities.

  • Infrastructure: This Action Plan is to ensure that existing assets (e.g. coastal and river embankments) are well-maintained and fit-for-purpose and that urgently needed infrastructure (e.g. cyclone shelters and urban drainage) is put in place to deal with the likely impacts of climate change.

  • Research and Knowledge Management: This is to predict the likely scale and timing of climate change impacts on different sectors of the economy and socioeconomic groups; to underpin future investment strategies; and to ensure that Bangladesh is networked into the latest global thinking on science, and best practices of climate change management.

  • Mitigation and Low Carbon Development: This is to evolve low carbon development options and implement these as the country’s economy grows over the coming decades and the demand for energy increases.

  • Capacity Building and Institutional Strengthening: This is to enhance the capacity of government ministries and agencies, civil society and the private sector to meet the challenge of climate change and mainstream them as part of development actions.

The requirements of the poor and vulnerable, including women and children, will be prioritized in all activities implemented under the action plan. The Climate Change Action Plan comprises immediate, short, medium and long-term programs.

The serious consequences of climate change, including especially the consequences for Bangladesh, lead naturally to the question of what should be our response. Two types of response need to be considered. The first relates to adaptation, i.e., measures that have to be taken given the very high likelihood that climate change will occur and will have adverse effects. The second relates to mitigation, i.e. steps to be taken that might reduce the extent of climate change.

Adapting to Climate Change

Supporting communities and people in rural areas to strengthen their resilience and adapt to climate change will remain a high priority in coming decades. However, with increasing urbanization and economic growth, the type of risks Bangladesh faces will change. New urban areas must be built to be climate resilient. This will call for better planning to ensure that the pattern of urbanization takes account of the likely risks from climate change.

The direct annual cost to the national economy of natural disasters over the last 10 years (damage and lost production) is estimated to be between 0.5% and 1% of GDP. As the economy grows, these costs are likely to increase in absolute terms and also as a proportion of GDP, if climate change is not factored into long-term economic planning.

Over the decades, the Government of Bangladesh, with the support of development partners, has invested in:

  • Flood management schemes to raise the agricultural productivity of many thousands of kilometers of low-lying rural areas and to protect them from extremely damaging severe floods.

  • Flood protection and drainage schemes to protect urban areas from rainwater and river flooding during the monsoon season.

  • Coastal embankment projects, involving over 6,000 km of embankments and polder schemes, designed to raise agricultural productivity in coastal areas by preventing tidal flooding and incursion of saline water.

  • Over 2,000 cyclone shelters to provide refuges for communities from storm surges caused by tropical cyclones and 200 shelters from river floods.

  • Comprehensive disaster management projects, involving community-based programs and early warning systems for floods and cyclones.

  • Irrigation schemes to enable farmers to grow a dry season rice crop in areas subject to heavy monsoon flooding and in other parts of the country, including drought-prone areas.

  • Agricultural research programs to develop saline, drought and flood-adapted high yielding varieties of rice and other crops, based on the traditional varieties evolved over centuries by Bangladeshi farmers.

  • Coastal greenbelt projects, involving mangrove planting along 9,000 km of the shoreline.

These investments in ‘climate proofing’ have resulted on major impacts on economic growth and poverty reduction. Over the last 10-15 years, the number of fatalities from natural disasters has declined, as the country’s ability to manage risks, especially floods and cyclones, has improved and community-based systems have been put in place.

Over the decades, Bangladesh has also learnt how to plan and implement these programs more sustainably (e.g. to integrate capture and culture fisheries into the design and operation of flood management projects) by involving communities in planning, construction and management. We must undertake climate change investments with communities, learn from them, build on their knowledge of their local environments, and ensure that proposed investments meet their needs.

The Government recognizes that tackling climate change requires an integrated approach involving many different ministries and agencies, civil society and the business sector. There is also a need to strengthen the capacity of Government and other organizations to plan and implement development programs. Development organizations need to strengthen their capacity so that they can implement their regular programs more effectively and rise to the challenge of climate change.

Mitigation Activities

Even though Bangladesh’s contribution to the generation of GHGs is miniscule, the country wishes to play its part in reducing emissions now and in the future. The mitigation activity must be consistent with the country’s energy security as the demand for energy will increase with the quickening of the pace of development. GoB, therefore, encourages increased energy and cost efficiency in the development and utilization of conventional energy. Emphasis is also given to the development of renewable energy, particularly solar homes and biogas plants so that the emission is as small as possible without jeopardizing the access to energy. In partnership with civil society, a major nationwide program of social forestry has also been implemented and coastal ‘greenbelts’ has been planted as a key adaptation-mitigation strategy. As Bangladesh industrializes and develops coal reserves, the country will seek the transfer of state-of-the-art technologies from developed countries to ensure that the country follows a low-carbon growth path. Bangladesh is also committed to reducing GHG emissions from agriculture and urban waste management. The country is further committed to the development of forestry resources and in this regard is exploring all avenues including the mechanisms under REDD (Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).

Currently Bangladesh has two Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects concerned with solar energy and waste management. It looks forward to increasing the number of similar programs and experimenting with new instruments to generate carbon credits and facilitate carbon market financing in the future.

Benchmarks and Targets for the SFYP

It is important to recognize that climate change is not something for which any quantitative benchmark in physical terms can be set. The agenda is large and involves creation and management of knowledge, formulation policies, and development of institutions. It also requires coordination and collaboration with regional and global partners. The BCCSAP 2009 provides a very convenient framework to build on the climate change agenda for the SFYP. Given the large agenda, it would be prudent to prioritize the urgent tasks that need to be taken up and may be completed, by and large, within the next five years. As such, the following may form part of target programs of the SFYP, listed in accordance with approved themes (Table 1).

The Climate Change impacts that Bangladesh may face present a daunting challenge for policymakers. Adaptation is the prime need right now as any delay will create havoc with the growth prospects of the economy and deny millions of people even their basic necessities. International support might come eventually but may be woefully inadequate given Bangladesh’s enormous requirement of resources annually to combat the menace of Climate Change.

In this situation, the Sixth Plan will place first priority on the repair and maintenance of coastal polders and defenses which have been washed away by Sidr and Aila. As the coastal belt is expected to be adversely affected by climate change, the SFYP targets to develop a comprehensive plan in this regard. The second priority will be to mainstream Climate Change issues of adaptation, mitigation and capacity building based on the actions identified in Table 10.1.

Table 10.1:

Sixth Plan Benchmark and Proposed Target Programs

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Bangladesh will continue its active dialogue and participation in international forum to ensure compliance with the agreed global agenda while at the same time ensuring that Bangladesh’s rights to seek progress with economic growth and social development are protected. Similarly, Bangladesh will work hard to ensure that equitable solutions are found to help Bangladesh finance appropriate adaptation measures resulting from past global actions. Nevertheless, it is recognized that the financing needs for proper adaptation are large and that global funding will be limited. Proper funding of priority adaptation programs will be a key policy focus in the SFYP.

Implementing the Strategies

The Government recognizes that it needs to strengthen existing institutions and may also need to create and develop new ones to respond effectively to the enormous challenges of climate change. A National Steering Committee on climate change has been established to coordinate and facilitate national actions on climate change. It is chaired by the Minister of the Ministry of Environment and Forests and comprises the Secretaries of all climate-affected Ministries and Divisions, and representatives of civil society and the business community. It reports to the National Environment Committee, chaired by the Prime Minister.

The National Steering Committee on Climate Change also provides guidance on international climate change negotiations, including bilateral, multilateral and regional programs for collaboration, research, exchange of information and development. A Climate Change Unit will be set up in the Ministry of Environment and Forests, to support the National Steering Committee on Climate Change. It will work with Climate Change Focal Points to be set up in all ministries. In fact, eight are already in place.

The Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan was originally developed through a participatory process involving all relevant ministries and agencies, civil society, research organizations, the academia and the business community. Programs funded under the Action Plan will be implemented by the line ministries and agencies, with participation, as appropriate, of other stakeholder groups, including civil society, professional and research bodies and the private sector.

While adaptation and mitigation are the main tasks, finance and technology are the means to achieve them. The two areas have therefore attracted much attention during the climate change negotiations from the beginning. The broad principles are clear. First, the present day climate change is the result mainly of historical GHG emission by Western and other industrialized countries. The finance for adaptation and mitigation therefore has to come mainly from these countries which does not preclude national action by the affected countries on their own. How the funding may be generated is a matter of international negotiation. However, Bangladesh wishes that it be under a new financial architecture in which LDCs, G-77, China and other groups will have voice in generating, allocating and disbursements of the funds.

All funds for adaptation has to be on a purely grant basis as the need for adaptation arise because of climate change due to the historical emission of GHGs by the industrialized countries Mitigation depends mainly on energy production, distribution and consumption technology. Often the most efficient technologies are expensive. Bangladesh wishes to do her bit, however small, in the global effort to minimize GHGs emission by adopting such energy-efficient technology. However, unless the additional costs of adopting efficient technology is not paid for through the international financial mechanism, Bangladesh will not be able to adopt them. Like adaptation, this part of the additional cost of procuring efficient technology should be financed on a grant basis.

The Government has established a National Climate Change Fund. The Government desires that all development partners who so wish will contribute to this fund. Exactly what would be the operational modality may be worked out by the government and the particular development partner. But the cardinal principle of the operation of the fund shall be that it will be used solely to finance activities under the Action plan. Secondly, this contribution will not be a substitute for other normal funding for development by the development partners.

Disaster Management

Bangladesh, because of its geo-physical location, topography and high population density is at risk of recurring natural and human induced hazards with an average 10 million people affected every year. Frequent floods, cyclones, river bank erosion, water-logging, drought and tornadoes significantly disrupt Bangladesh’s economy and the lives and livelihoods of its population. Bangladesh is in the top of the list of 10 most disaster affected countries. During 1990-2008 the country incurred annual loss of US$2,189 million (1.8% of annual GDP) from disasters. Climate change is adding a new dimension to the current risk environment with global predications suggesting that the country could expect more intense cyclones, storm surge and flooding (disaster)-and that a rise in sea levels could have a significant impact on the lives and livelihoods of up to 30 million people.

About 75% of all disasters are originated by weather-climate extremes and because of global warming and climate change Bangladesh had already experienced some significant impacts especially in terms of coastal inundation and erosion, saline intrusion, deforestation, loss of bio-diversity and agriculture, and large scale migration. It is estimated that about 830,000 million hectares of arable land is affected by varying degrees of soil salinity. During the period 1973–1987 about 2.18 million tons of rice was damaged due to drought and 2.38 million tons due to flood. Drought affects annually about 2.32 million hectares and 1.2 million hectares of cropped land during the Kharif (November to June) and Rabi (July to October) seasons respectively, while soil salinity, water logging and acidification affect 3.05 million hectares, 0.7 million hectares and 0.6 million hectare of crop land, respectively in the country.

In addition to crop losses, Bangladesh is experiencing other adverse impacts of global warming and climate change with summers becoming hotter, monsoon becoming irregular, untimely rainfall, heavy rainfall over short period causing water logging and landslides, very little rainfall in dry period, increased river flow and inundation during monsoon, increased frequency, intensity and recurrence of floods, crop damage due to flash floods and monsoon floods, crop failure due to drought, prolonged cold spell, salinity intrusion along the coast leading to scarcity of potable water and redundancy of prevailing crop practices, coastal erosion, riverbank erosion, deaths due to extreme heat and extreme cold, increasing mortality, morbidity, prevalence and outbreak of dengue, malaria, cholera and diarrhea. All of these impacts either independently or collectively are adding significant stress to our physical and environmental resources, our human ability, and economic activities.

Bangladesh Disaster Management Mission, Vision and Objectives

The Disaster Management Vision of the Government of Bangladesh is to reduce the risk of people, especially the poor and the disadvantaged, from the effects of natural, environmental and human induced hazards, to a manageable and acceptable humanitarian level, and to have in place an efficient emergency response system capable of handling large scale disasters.

The Mission is to bring a paradigm shift in disaster management from conventional response and relief practice to a more comprehensive risk reduction culture

The overall objectives are to reduce the underlying risks and to promote the climate change adaptation by

  • integrating disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation approaches in all ongoing and future development plans, programs and policies

  • Enhancing professional skills and knowledge of key personnel on disaster and climate change risk reduction, preparedness, warning and forecasting system, and post-disaster activities

  • Strengthening mechanisms to build disaster and climate change risk reduction capacities for the Community and Institutions at all levels

  • Community based Programming for risk disaster and climate change risk reduction

  • Promoting livelihood strategies and options for the most vulnerable that incorporate disaster and climate change risk reduction practices

  • Strengthening capacities for disaster and climate change risk assessment for flood, cyclone, drought, river bank erosion, pest attacks, earthquake, epidemics, etc. to establish and strengthen the systems and procedures for effective response management through

  • Creating a legal and institutional framework for effective response management

  • Strengthening national capacity for response management with emphasis on preparedness and support to disaster management committees at district, upazila and union levels

  • Improving the early warning and community alerting system

  • Strengthening search and rescue capabilities of relevant agencies

  • Introducing an effective response management coordination mechanism including a relief management logistic system to handle different levels of emergency response

  • Establishing an electronic based information management system

Guiding Principles for Disaster Management

Disaster management is the responsibility of all sectors, all organizations and all agencies that may be potentially affected by a disaster. The key disaster management principles the country has adopted are as follows:

  1. Disasters can either be natural, human induced or even arising out of technological causes. The DM policy is to provide guidance, plan and prepare for all types of hazards and disasters.

  2. Disaster Management in Bangladesh is guided by a number of national and international drivers which among others includes Standing Orders on Disasters first introduced in 1997, Millennium Declaration of September 2000 to protecting the vulnerable from the consequences of natural disasters, Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005-2015, and SAARC Framework for Action (SFA) 2006-2015.

  3. Disaster risk reduction should be an integral element of every national and sectoral policy at all levels to sub-serve the overall goal relating to economic and social development. Hence, policies on sustainable development should seek to reduce possible losses from disasters, as a matter of priority.

  4. Risk is dynamic and always changing. Hence both scientific and community analysis is essential for defining and redefining risks. Risk analysis must be comprehensive and follow all hazards, all sectors and all risk approach. Need to consider both existing and future risks including climate change impacts analysis.

  5. Disaster management activities in Bangladesh will be designed around a DM Model comprising of 2 elements namely Risk Reduction and Emergency Response Management

  6. Effective response must be designed utilizing risk information and revised through lessons learned

  7. Mainstreaming risk reduction efforts within government, NGOs and private sector is viewed as being the key to achieving sustainable all hazards risk reduction interventions across the whole country.

  8. Disaster Management in Bangladesh will be enriched through applied research and knowledge management. Hence efforts will be made to strengthen research capability and institutionalize knowledge management across academia.

  9. Women, children, elderly, the disable and other socially marginalized groups will be primary beneficiaries of all disaster management efforts.

The past achievements

Bangladesh recognizes that disaster management which includes both risk reduction and response management is the responsibility of all sectors, all organizations and all agencies. Therefore, mainstreaming risk reduction efforts within government, NGOs and private sector is viewed as being the key to achieving sustainability in all hazards risk, reduction interventions across the whole country.

Paradigm Shift: Response to Risk Reduction

During 2004-2009 Ministry of Food and Disaster Management had implemented the Comprehensive Disaster Management Program (CDMP) to make a paradigm shift in disaster management from a response and relief focus to a broader and more encompassing risk management framework. The Program was implemented through a range of strategic, technical and implementation partnership arrangements with more than 100 regional, national and local organizations. Followed an all hazard, all risk and all sector approach, the Program was designed around the following strategic focus areas:

  1. Professionalizing the disaster management system;

  2. Mainstreaming disaster risk management within development and investment planning processes;

  3. Strengthening community institutional support systems;

  4. Expanding mitigation and preparedness to a wider range of hazards and geographical areas; and

  5. Operationalizing response management systems.

Policy, Planning and Strategic Framework

Government has created the required policy and legislative frameworks in order for laying the foundations for institutionalizing comprehensive disaster management approach within and among its institutional partners. The Standing Orders on Disasters (SOD) was revised and the National Plan for Disaster Management 2010-2015 (NPDM) was introduced. Last April 2010 the National Disaster Management Council approved the Revised SOD and NPDM which will guide Government sectoral ministries and departments, NGOs, civil society organizations and public representatives to carry out disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation functions. Disaster management has become an integral part of the educational curricula at primary, secondary and tertiary levels as well as major training courses of all public training institutions. The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) on 8th October 2007 meeting approved the decision to include information on “lessons learnt from the previous project” as well as “Risk Identification and Risk Mitigation” in all Development Project Proposal (DPP) and Working Paper for the ECNEC as the first milestone achieved to ensure the integration of risk management in the development activities.

Bangladesh has also achieved a number of other milestones. The country has established a planning and strategic framework with the following seven strategic goals which were set as the basis of action matrix under the NPDM:

  • Professionalizing the disaster management system

  • Mainstreaming disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation

  • Strengthening institutional mechanisms

  • Empowering at risk communities

  • Expanding risk reduction programming across all hazards and all sectors

  • Strengthening emergency response systems

  • Developing and strengthening regional and global networks.

The country builds the risk reduction, preparedness and emergency management capacities based on the people’s indigenous knowledge, experiences and the capacity to cope with disasters.

Comprehensive Program Adopted

To further reduce country’s vulnerability the Disaster Management and Relief Division launched the CDMP Phase II (2010-2014) with donor fund to be directly implemented by 16 departments of 12 ministries. The program is planned to achieve the following 6 outcome:

  • Development of strong, well-managed and professional institutions in Bangladesh able to implement a comprehensive range of risk reduction programs and interventions at the national level, as well as contributing to regional actions and international learning and best practice.

  • Reduced risk to rural populations through structural and non-structural interventions, empowerment of rural communities and improved awareness of, and planning for, natural hazard events, including the likely impacts of climate change

  • Reduced risk to urban populations through structural and non-structural interventions, improved awareness of natural hazard events and the piloting of urban community risk reduction methodologies that target the extreme poor

  • Improved overall effectiveness and timeliness of disaster preparedness and response in Bangladesh by strengthening early warning systems, national management capacity and coordination facilities at all levels.

  • Improved disaster-proofing of development programming, and to enhance technical capacity and positive long-term changes in planning and investment decisions in targeted ministries.

  • Improved management of community-level adaptation to disaster risks from a changing climate.

Disaster Management Strategy in the SFYP

The SFYP will carry forward the implementation of the approved National Disaster Management Plan 2010-2015. It will continue the comprehensive all hazard, all risk and all sector approach and be built on the foundations laid in the last several years and learn from the positive experiences. The Bangladesh Disaster Management Model which made the basis for revising the disaster management policy and planning documents has mainly comprised of two inter-related elements: Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Response. The plan will focus more on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in order for reducing the relief and recovery needs and also be prepared to deal with any emergencies.

The government accords the focus on community level preparedness, response, recovery and rehabilitation emphasizing the following three broad-based strategies:

  1. Disaster management would involve the management of both risk and consequences of disasters that would include prevention, emergency response, and post disaster recovery.

  2. Community involvement for preparedness programs to protect lives and properties would be a major focus. Involvement of local government bodies would be an essential part of the strategy. Self-reliance should be the key for preparedness, response, and recovery.

  3. Non-structural mitigation measures such as community disaster preparedness training, advocacy, and public awareness must be given a high priority; this would require an integration of structural mitigation with non-structural measures.

The priorities on DRR during the SFYP will broadly include:

  • Professionalizing the Disaster Management systems and institutions through execution of the Disaster Management Regulatory Framework already established.

  • Strengthening the Disaster Management Bureau’s capacity to monitor and take part in cross-government mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction through pre, during and post disaster assessment.

  • Strengthening institutional capacity of government sectoral ministries, departments and other technical and academic actors in ensuring inclusion of DRR and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) issues and agendas within their respective sectoral policies, plans, programs and allocations of businesses.

  • Empowering at risk communities to withstand and cope up with the disastrous situations through community and household level risk reduction interventions and livelihood support services.

  • Reducing vulnerabilities of at risk communities through social safety nets – ensuring protection of women, children, the aged and differently able people giving due attention to their special needs.

  • Preparedness for Earthquake and Tsunami risks through

    • vulnerability and risks assessments and mapping,

    • hazard land zoning,

    • Land use planning

    • contingency planning,

    • strengthening search and rescue capacity of fast responding institutions and

    • mass public awareness

  • Building Knowledge on DRR and CCA through

    • piloting and adaptation research

    • Establishing an Integrated Approach to disaster management including Climate Change and climate variability impacts

    • Developing climate change scenarios and accordingly anticipated hazard risks following climate change

    • Updating hazard maps such as flood, cyclone, drought, earthquake and tsunami

  • Strengthening national capability to reduce the risks of Chemical, technological and biological hazards; Infrastructure collapse; Fire; Road accidents; Launch capsize and Landslide.

  • Strengthening national capacity for erosion prediction and monitoring.

  • Developing and establishing policy and planning frameworks to incorporate all hazard (including anticipated risks of climate change) risk reduction perspectives into sectoral policies and development plans, such as: Agriculture, livestock and fishery; Industry; Education (primary, secondary and Madrasa); Rural and urban housing; Construction of roads, bridges and culvert; Water transportation; Health; Water resources; Power, energy and mineral resources; Environment and forestry; Science and Technology; Telecommunication; Water Supply and Sanitation and Food Security.

  • Establishing public - private partnerships for disaster risk reduction.

  • Supporting regional and global risk reduction initiatives and ensure representation that is consistent with the government integrated all sector risk reduction approach at all levels.

The Emergency Response Priorities during the SFYP will broadly include:

  • Strengthening and improving an all Hazard Early Warning Systems through technical, technological and physical capacity strengthening of Bangladesh Meteorological Department and Flood Forecasting and Warning Center.

  • Establishing and strengthening regional networks for real time data/information sharing.

  • Establishing an effective Community Alerting System through capacity strengthening of Cyclone Preparedness Program and Disaster Management Committees (DMC) at District, Upazila and Union levels.

  • Introducing Contingency Planning and Disaster Preparedness across all sectors and at all levels.

  • Establishing and improving Search and Rescue Mechanism by: (i) preparing a potential search and rescue scenario; (ii) strengthening Search and Rescue capability of first responding institutions by providing training and equipments support; (iii) establishing an all hazard volunteer groups for Search and Rescue operations; (iv) establishing an effective command and control system and, (v) construction and maintenance of sufficient multi-purpose disaster shelters.

  • Strengthening GO-NGO and private sector co-ordinations on relief and emergency management.

  • Developing and establishing a well coordinated multi-sectoral post-disaster recovery and reconstruction mechanism.

  • Establishing and operational a National Disaster Management Information Centre connected with all the 64 Districts and high-risk Upazila DMCs to: (i) archive and share disaster risk reduction information; (ii) to produce and share policy briefs; (iii) to receive and disseminate early warning information; and (iv) to receive and disseminate information on emergency need assessments and management.

  • Ensuring protection and support to the most vulnerable, especially women and children

The Post-Disaster Recovery Priorities during the SFYP will broadly include:

  • Incorporating early recovery into the disaster response mechanism

  • Developing mechanisms for damage and losses assessment to be the basis for recovery planning

  • Developing and establishing post disaster recovery and reconstruction mechanisms

  • Incorporating disaster and climate change risk reduction measures into post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation processes and use opportunities during this phase to address the underlying factors of the disaster and climate change risks

  • Linking post disaster recovery efforts with the development plans and programs

Strengthening institutional capacity: Various government and non-government organizations are working in the field of disaster management and mitigation. A key effort in the SFYP will be to strengthen the inter-ministerial coordination as well as coordination with the NGOs.

As per the revised SOD and NDMP the Disaster Management and Relief Division, Ministry of Food and Disaster Management is the focal agency for disaster risk reduction and emergency management. The focal point for disaster management is the Ministry of Food and Disaster Management and the Disaster Management Bureau under the Ministry. The Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) is responsible for forecasting natural disasters, particularly cyclones, droughts, storms etc. The Bangladesh Space Research and Remote Sensing Organization (SPARRSO) is responsible for providing satellite images while the Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC) of Bangladesh Water Development Board is entrusted with the responsibility of forecasting flood. A number of institutions and Bureaus under different ministries such as the National Disaster Management Council headed by the Prime Minister, the Directorate of Relief and Rehabilitation, the Directorate General of Food, Department of Public Health Engineering, The Local Government Engineering Department, Water Resources Planning Organization (WARPO) and Armed Forces Division are involved in disaster management. Given these multitude of governmental organizations, better coordination will increase the effectiveness of the response as well as cut inefficiencies and wastage.

Challenges for the SFYP

Throughout the SFYP the following challenges will likely to persist and post hindrance to the attainment of the goals set therein:

  1. Lack of policy coherence: The risk governance is, by and large, a byproduct of the overall governance of the country. The fragmented policy framework and weak local capacity will likely to continue for the next couple of years. In the intervening time, the disaster and climate change risk reduction will also subjected to the sectoral fragmentation in spite of the presence of the National Plan on Disaster Management and the Standing Orders on Disaster Management. A set of policies at the higher hierarchy, i.e. the Disaster Management Policy and Disaster Management Act formulation would be of primary requirement.

  2. Trans-boundary nature of disaster hazards and climate change: Natural elements such as water, land, and air are transboundary. And thus any measures to address them would also have to take into consideration the transboundary solutions. This will likely to involve the combined and coordinated through at least the scientific and technology front, community of practice front, regional and international diplomacy fronts.

  3. Policy – reality gap: The discrepancy between the norms and principles articulated in the disaster and climate change risk reduction policy framework and the actual implementation will remain formidable. The pervasive cross-cutting nature of disaster and climate change subject matter making it difficult to produce results, to extract compliance, and to impose accountability to actors and authorities.

  4. Risk reduction – relief – recovery gap: The fragmentation of disaster management with overbearing priorities to relief has been ameliorated with the paradigm shift towards risk reduction. There is, notwithstanding, the remaining gap between relief and recovery. The disconnect between disaster relief and recovery poses the danger that reconstruction efforts will not be fortified with the required additional risk reduction investments. As result government and communities will continue to rebuilding risks instead of reducing them.

  5. Risk accounting and public investment: Disaster and climate change risks are still at the normative level with elusive quantification. This making it impossible to estimate the value of the disaster and climate change risks, the required investment, the losses from adverse events, and the requirement for recovery and re-development. Without the discipline risk accounting it is also difficult to determine the baseline, benchmark and accomplishment of objectives.

  6. Mainstreaming disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation across hazards and sectors: to contribute to meaningful poverty reduction efforts the revised SOD refers to formulate a range of sectoral DRR and CCA mainstreaming guidelines the development of which would take at least 2-3 years.

Development Resource Allocation for Environment, Climate Change and Disaster Management in the SFYP

In light of the long-run consequences of environmental degradation to the country’s ecosystem and citizen’s welfare, the Government has set a number of goals to attain a sustainable environment and to address the fallout of climate change. Substantial resources will be needed to achieve these targets. The resource mobilization strategy includes collaboration with private sector, mobilization of international funding, especially to manage climate change issues, and allocation of own resources. Indicative allocations of development resources to carry out the strategies and programs for environment, climate change and disaster management over the Sixth Plan period is shown in current and constant prices in Table 10.2 and Table 10.3. These indicative allocations will be reviewed on an annual basis in light of actual resource availability, progress with implementation and changing government priorities in light of global and national developments.

Table 10.2:

Development Resource Allocation for Environment and Disaster Management in the Sixth Plan

(Taka Crore; current price)

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Table 10.3:

Development Resource Allocation for Environment and Disaster Management in the Sixth Plan

(Taka Crore; FY2011 price)

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Bangladesh: Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper
Author: International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept