Bangladesh: Policy Recommendations for Adaptation

Submitted by Ben Smith 23rd July 2011 17:29

Summary of recommendations for Bangladesh

This work forms part of a Policy Briefing on Climate Change in Bangladesh produced by Practical Action in 2008. Other sections of the report can be seen in the Related Pages section to the right, where the full report can also be downloaded.

Policy makers from all sectors urgently need to focus attention on the implications of climate change. Support for adaptation to the impacts must start now. Many aspects of climate change and variability are already having a profound effect on the livelihoods of poor rural communities, and enough is known about the future impacts of climate change for action to be taken now. The vulnerability of the poorest to climate change is a central challenge and 'no regrets' adaptation options, which focus on poverty relief through diversifying livelihoods and extension support for sustainable agricultural systems, must be a priority.

In particular, action is required in the following areas:

Central government

Issue:

  • Climate change is not just an issue for those in government with responsibility for the environment.

Recommendations:

  • All government departments must acknowledge the importance of climate change and analyse the impacts for their sector. Disaster planning and risk reduction strategies must account for the new challenges of climate induced disasters.
  •  Central government will need to support decentralised policy development so that appropriate adaptation activities can be planned and to prevent the imposition of 'one size fits all' solutions. National level activities need to support the distribution of resources and extension services to the local level, training and awareness raising in communities, research for technology generation, information provision, and take forward international lobbying.

Coastal and river zones

Impacts:

  • 1 million people are expected to be affected by sea level rise in the region of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna mega delta by 2050.
  • Sea level rise leading to saline water intrusion, coastal land inundation and storm surges are unavoidable.

Recommendations:

  • Policy makers must start planning now to protect the infrastructure and settlements of the rural poor in the region of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna mega delta and identify whether mass migration can be avoided.
  • The implications of sea level rise are profound and must be prepared for in the areas of government responsible for agriculture, trade, population planning, disaster preparedness, the environment and finance.
  • Government should explore methods for construction of embankments to protect communities from saline water intrusion and tidal surge. Communities should be involved in routine maintenance of embankments. In addition, support should be given to farmers to cultivate saline tolerant paddy.

Agricultural and fishery policy and extension support

Impacts:

  • Huge reductions in the levels of rice and wheat production are anticipated in the coming years. Estimates suggest that rice production could fall by 8% and wheat production by 32% by as early as 2050. Fish stocks are already reported to be in decline due to early flooding, temperature fluctuations and river bed siltration.
  • Increased water stress is expected by 2020 and will have a huge impact on the productivity and viability of irrigation fed agriculture.

Recommendations:

  • Government should provide support to farmers in their use of alternative technologies in the agriculture sector. Strategies such as floating gardens, fish cultivation cages, adjustments to the cropping calendar, flood tolerant paddy cultivation, and alternative crops and livestock that are resilient to climate change (and higher winter temperatures in particular) should all be promoted.

Health

Impacts:

  • Water supply, food security and land degradation or inundation will all place pressures on rural populations that will lead to deteriorating health in and reduced viability of existing rural population centres.
  • Flooding and sea level rise will lead to the pollution of surface water, an increase in water borne diseases such as cholera and an escalation of current high rates of diarrhoea.

Recommendations:

  • Specific health and sanitation measures will need to complement alternative livelihood strategies if a widespread deterioration in health is to be avoided.
  • The impact of the government plan for sanitation in all villages by 2010 initiative should be maximised by inviting NGOs to create awareness to the communities. Existing community clinics need to be fully operationalised and the necessary logistical support ensured to meet the challenges that climate change present.