Projects under Bangladesh climate fund given nod
The governing council of Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (BCCRF) approved three projects involving Tk 566.62 crore to face the bad impacts of climate change in the country.
The council also approved three other projects in principles involving Tk 440.34 crore in a meeting of the council chaired by Environment and Forests Minster Hasan Mahmud at the environment and forests ministry yesterday.
After the meeting, during a briefing to journalists Hasan Mahmud said, “So far, we have allocated 90 percent of total fund we got from development partners to ensure the highest use of the fund.”
Under the projects, a total of Tk 277.16 crore will be provided to the Climate Resilient Participatory Afforestation project to be implemented by Forest Department, Tk102.50 crore to Community Climate Change Project (CCCP) to be implemented by PKSF, and Tk 186.96 crore to the Agriculture Adaptation in Climate Risk Prone Areas of Bangladesh to be implemented by Agriculture Ministry.
The remaining three projects are — constructions of 60 cyclone centres, constructing 25 kilometres of road and building a cross-dam connecting Urirchar and Noakhali, and constructing modern silos to preserve food grains.
Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury, Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni, Water Resources Minister Ramesh Chandra Sen and World Bank Country Director Ellen Goldstein, among others, were present at the meeting.
Praising the role of Bangladesh government in fighting climate change challenges, Ellen said the World Bank is happy to help the country in managing the fund.
Earlier, the government signed agreements of $170 million climate funds with seven development partners.
Transparency and accountability in spending climate funds would help the country attract foreign funds in future to combat climate change, said Saber Hossain Chowdhury, chairman of the all-party parliamentary panel on climate change, yesterday.
An audit of the funds spent so far is also required to ascertain the value of money and prevention of resource waste in various ways including corruption, he said while speaking at a discussion at the capital’s Brac Centre.
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) organised the discussion on the challenges of good governance in spending climate funds.
Bangladesh has so far created a $300 million Climate Change Trust Fund (BCCTF) with its own money and a $125 million Climate Change Resilient Fund (BCCRF) with foreign money. The former is governed by a high-powered trustee board while the latter is managed by the World Bank.
At least three out of 83 government projects financed by BCCTF have been plagued by gross anomalies, lack of planning and indications of resource misappropriation at implementation and project formulation stages, said Mohua Rouf, an assistant project coordinator of TIB, while presenting TIB findings.
Relief and Rehabilitation Directorate undertook a Tk 24.5 crore project under BCCTF to build 2003 cyclone-resilient houses for the Aila-affected in Khulna and Satkhira.
But the houses they built turned out to be low quality four-pillared sheds without walls and provisions for privacy, personal hygiene, and sewerage, and are exposed to storms, cold and sun, said Mohua.
Bangladesh Water Development Board undertook a Tk 24 crore project to build a cross dam connecting different Chars from Patuakhali to Bhola without environmental and social impact assessment.
In the project proposal they failed to mention that they would build the dam through a reserve forest and cut 30,000 trees, she said. As a result the project was stalled in the face of objections from the forest department.
On the other hand, the forest department undertook a Tk 12 crore afforestation project in coastal area without the required free land and any coordination with the water board, she said.
Referring to cyclone-resilient houses, Saber Hossain said that they would make affected people’s life even more vulnerable.
A national forum comprising parliament members, local governments and civil society representatives could ensure climate projects are rational, he added.
Dr Hasan Mahmud, minister for environment and forests, said that the relevant ministry is responsible for preventing anomalies and lack of accountability in project implementation.
He said that his ministry releases climate funds through a lengthy and rigorous process involving a technical committee and trustee board.
Water development board received the highest allocation of 28 percent of the BCCTF followed by Forest Department and Relief and Rehabilitation Directorate with 13 and 10.5 percent respectively, but so far no project by any NGO has gotten any allocation.
Quazi Kholiquzzaman, coordinator of government’s climate negotiation team, said that out of 5,000 NGO projects, only around 60 finally qualified for allocation.
NGO representatives from Khulna, Barisal, Barguna, Patuakhali and other parts of the country spoke at the discussion.
Hafiz Uddin Khan, former advisor to the caretaker government, chaired the morning session while the afternoon session was chaired by TIB’s Trustee Board Chairperson Sultana Kamal and moderated by Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of TIB.
Donors on Sunday assured the government of providing more assistance to the Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (BCCRF) to cope with the adverse impacts of climate change.
The assurance came when representatives from donor organisations and countries of the Fund met Environment and Forests Minister Hasan Mahmud at his Secretariat office.
Representatives from the Department for International Development (DFID), the World Bank, the European Commission (EC), Denmark, Switzerland and Sweden were present at the meeting.
During the meeting, they discussed the progress of the ongoing projects of the BCCRF and finalisation of two new projects on disaster management and solar-driven pumps for irrigation within the next 2-3 months.
The meeting stressed the need for placing the two new projects at the next meetings of the managing committee and governing council of BCCRF in April.
Dr Hasan Mahmud informed the meeting that his ministry has taken an initiative to set up the BCCRF Secretariat.
“We’ve already selected an office space and opened a bank account to set up the BCCRF Secretariat, and the process to hire two consultants in this regard will be completed within two weeks,” he said.