Frontiers of Resilience: Initiatives of Islamic Relief, Bangladesh

Bangladesh: The Big Picture

Reckoned as one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change according to different study reports, Bangladesh will be one of the most exposed nations to the impacts of climate change in the coming decades as climate variability will result into more frequent and intense disasters causing human and economic loss.

Government of Bangladesh(GoB) has initiated the process of adapting to the impacts of climate change; for example,GoB established the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund (BCCTF) and the Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund. Yet it requires cohesive effort from different stakeholders like NGOs, educational and research institutions, local authorities and community based organizations to strengthen the entire process. There has been substantial progress in terms of capacity to manage disasters, yet there are certain areas like institutional and infrastructural strengthening, development of research and introduction of low carbon technologies which need further emphasis for an inclusive and comprehensive risk mitigation scheme.

From the West Coast to the Northern Sandy Lands

Salinity, water logging, soil erosion, flooding and cyclones are some of the prominent hazards in the coastal areasof Bangladesh. IR,B designed its programmes in these areas aiming to increase community resilience through social mobilisation and empowerment of the poor and marginalised community members in the South-Western areas of Bangladesh. The program objectives are to improvecommunity resilience level to climate induced hasards through capacity building of local governance structures and community based organizations and also to increase the evidence for the incorporation of climate resilient approaches into policies and interventions to ensure effective emergency response and socially inclusive and innovative community based climate change adaptation and risk mitigation.

Furthermore, IR,B is working in the remote ‘char areas’ (sandy land) of Gaibandha district in the North-West of Bangladesh which is engulfed by major rivers like Teesta, Brahmaputra and Jamuna. Apart from flood, Gaibandha is exposed to hazards like river erosion, drought, cold wave, excessive heat, seasonal storm and tornado. Realizing these facts, IR,B is implementing its project under the 7th DIPECHO Action Plan to create a replicable model of community resilience in char areas.

The Urban Initiatives

IR,B is also working on urban hasards in Sylhet citysince 2005. While Sylhet is rapidly growing due to influx of migration, the climate change phenomenon is creating further pressure resulting into irregular and excessive rainfall, landslide, soil erosion etc. IR,B is working towards securing a climate resilient future for the urban community in Sylhet through official alliance with the City Corporation.IR,Binitiated Ward Disaster Management Committees to ensure sustainable institutionalization of DRR at community level.

As urban resilience requires a collaborative effort, IR,B adopted an approach which empowered the community members with growing awareness and skill level to prepare for and respond to emergencies, and also enhanced coordination amongst relevant stakeholders to minimize their risks through mobilizing social resources. Througha cohesive effort with IR,B, the Sylhet City Corporation received international recognition for its DRR initiativesas Sylhet was the only city from South Asia amongst the 15 finalists in the 1st Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation, nominated by IR,B.

Islamic Relief, Bangladesh: Where do we stand?

Islamic Relief, Bangladesh (IR,B) workstoincrease community resilience to climate changethrough contextualized approaches for rural and urban areas. Through partnership with government and community organizations, IR,B is striving to mobilise community resources and develop capacity of national to local stakeholders.

Upholding the bottom up approach, IR,B is working to incorporate climate resilient approaches into policies such as contribution in developing the draft Disaster Management Policy for (GoB).