Tackling poverty through adaptation in Bangladesh

From sky to sea, Bangladesh is highly vulnerable to climate change. Changing rainfall patterns, melting glaciers in the Himalayas, increased floods and storms, rising sea levels, all have an impact on Bangladesh, and in particular, on the poorest communities.

Abdul Mazid, who lives in the flood-prone Sunamgonj district of the country, says the region experienced a severe drop in fish stocks recently: “Our parents could catch fish in two or three hours, now we need at least three days to get the same amount of fish".

Highlights

  • In Bangladesh, 31.5 % of the population is still living below the poverty line and depends directly on natural resources for their livelihoods.
  • The Poverty-Environment Initiative provides technical support to 28 ongoing government projects in the country.
  • The livelihood of 100,000 households has been improved in the flood-prone Sunamgonj district.

Through technical support to 28 ongoing government projects in Bangladesh, the Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI), a joint programme of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), is helping to reverse environmental degradation while also benefiting the poor by creating income possibilities and improving resilience to the affects of climate change.

One of the key achievements of PEI in Bangladesh has been to introduce government procedures for new projects seeking public funds. As a result, all ministries that submit projects for funding must demonstrate the percentage of poor people who will benefit, what the impact on natural resources will be, and the extent of resilience of new infrastructure to climate change.

“More projects are coming up that reflect an awareness of climate change impacts on development, as well as environmental sustainability and poverty alleviation,” said Mr. Nurun Nahar, a planning expert in Bangladesh.

In Sunamgonj, the project has helped local communities increase their fish stock and improve agricultural production through better natural resource management, which resulted in better means of livelihood for 100,000 households.  

Experts from PEI provided technical support and recommendations to improve the water management system, introduce crops resistant to climate change, and increase floating gardens and fish cage culture. This was coupled with the construction of environmentally friendly roads resistant to natural hazards that improved access to local markets, education and sanitation.

“The forest swamp is a source of food for fish and we can earn a lot of money selling the leaves. Poor people of this area now can get fish,” says Abdul Mazid.

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