Published:  12:25 AM, 09 January 2019

Planning and actions in adaptation to climatic hazards

According to the climate change strategy and action plan of Bangladesh, the focal ministry for all work on climate change, including international negotiations.

It provides the Secretariat for the recently-established National Environment Committee, which ensures a strategic overview of environmental issues and is chaired by the Chief Adviser. Immediately after the Bali Conference (COP 13), the Government formed the National Steering Committee on Climate Change.

It is headed by the Adviser, Environment and Forests and comprises secretaries of all relevant ministries and civil society representatives. It is tasked with developing and overseeing implementation of the national Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan. Five technical working groups were also constituted on adaptation, mitigation, technology transfer, financing and public awareness.


In 2005, the Government of Bangladesh launched its National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA), in partnership with other stakeholders, which highlights the main adverse effects of climate change and identifies adaptation needs.

The Climate Change Cell in Department of environment under the Ministry of Environment and Forests supports the mainstreaming of climate change into national development planning and has developed a network of 34 'focal points' in different government agencies, research and other organizations.

The (NDMC), headed by the Chief Adviser/Prime Minister, is the highest-level forum for the formulation and review of disaster management policies. The Inter-Ministerial Disaster Management Coordination Committee is in charge of implementing disaster management policies and the decisions of the NDMC, assisted by the National Disaster Management Advisory Committee.


This is the focal ministry for disaster management. Its (DMB) is the apex organization responsible for coordinating national disaster management Ministry of Food and Disaster Management Disaster Management Bureau interventions across all agencies. It is a technical arm of the Ministry of Food and Disaster Management.

It oversees and coordinates all activities related to disaster management at national and local levels. In 2000, the Government published which provide a detailed institutional framework for disaster risk reduction and emergency management and defines the roles and responsibilities of different actors. The (CDMP), a donor funded programme, aims to strengthen the DMB and shifts the emphasis away from relief to disaster preparedness and risk reduction.


The Meteorological Department and SPARRSO, under the Ministry of Defense, and the Flood Forecasting and Early Warning Centre of Bangladesh Water Development Board, under the Ministry of Water Resources, are two of the key institutions in this field.


There are 35 or more other ministries also responsible for sectors that are vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including agencies responsible for water resources, health, agriculture, urban planning, roads and transport. Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action-plan (BCCSAP) first prepared in 2008, modified and approved by the Government in 2009 by Ministry of Environment and Forests Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh is built on six pillars:

1. Food security, social protection and health to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable in society, including women and children, are protected from climate change and that all programmes focus on the needs of this group for food security, safe housing, employment and access to basic services, including health; 2. Comprehensive disaster management to further strengthen the country's already proven disaster management systems to deal with increasingly frequent and severe natural calamities; 3. Infrastructure 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; 4.Research and knowledge management 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 climate change; 5. Mitigation and low carbon development to evolve low carbon development options and implement these as the country's economy grows over the coming decades; 6. Capacity building and institutional strengthening to enhance the capacity of government ministries and agencies, civil society and the private sector to meet the challenge of climate change. In BCCSAP -2009 44 programs and in NAPA 45 adaptation options is identified.

For implementation of adaptation options there is a need large scale investment. Implementation of BCCSAP Bangladesh alone will cost 5 billion USD for the first five years. A study titled "Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change" has assessed both the individual and macro level capacities and opportunities of climate change related adaptation.

The study has concluded that the adaptive capacity at household level is generally low, with poor urban dwellers the most disadvantaged due to the limited opportunities for livelihood diversification and low social capital. As the most common forms of private adaptation activities, among the surveyed households, the study noted; temporary migration of  adult men for day labor, construction of  platforms to protect livestock, and storage of  food and drinking water prior to extreme events.

The study has also presented a list of preferred public adaptation activities from a local perspective. Through local and national participatory scenario development workshops- these included (a) environmental management (mangrove preservation, afforestation, coastal greenbelts, waste management); (b) water resource management (drainage, rainwater harvesting, drinking water provision, and flood control); (c) infrastructure (roads, cyclone shelters); (d) livelihood diversification and social protection for fishers during the cyclone season; (e) education; (e) agriculture, including development of  salt-tolerant and high-yield varieties and crop insurance; (f) fisheries, including stor m-resistant boats and conflict resolution between shrimp and rice farmers; (g) governance, especially access to social services for urban poor; (h) gender-responsive disaster management, including separate rooms for women in cyclone shelters, mini-shelters closer to villages, and the use of  female voices in early warning announcements; and (i) mobile medical teams in Char areas.

The study noted that while these options are similar to adaptation options identified in the BCCSAP, they do provide a greater emphasis on softer approaches (governance), include more general options (education), and are more directly targeted to the community level (use of  mobile medical teams).

There is a need to focus on adaptation not only by focusing on the projected status of salinity and natural disasters with respect to crop variety. In Bangladesh, protective measures are required to reduce these vulnerabilities. In this regard, BCCSAP requires addressing its research and knowledge management cluster from the perspective of land, agriculture and farmers' protection.

Moreover, the discussion on climate change induced impacts on land and agriculture reveals high level of vulnerability of the population of Bangladesh - as it may affect its capacity to grow food, retain and protect its population at origin and support their livelihood activities on a sustainable way.

This does not call only for a comprehensive plan and its implementation for effective adaptation but also for a stronger voice in global forum on mitigation. For a highly populated country such as Bangladesh whose land is the primary target of climate change - adaptation, no matter how effective, in the long run, cannot meet the necessity of the population if mitigation is not pursued at global level.

As the sea level is rising, Bangladesh has experienced severe impacts of coastal inundation and erosion, cyclones, salinity intrusion, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, agricultural land shrinking and large scale migration. Loss of coastal land to the sea in the vulnerable zone is currently predicted to reach up to 5% by 2030, 7% by 2050 and 15% by 2080. Scientists predict that, due to tropical cyclones and salinity intrusion into farming lands in coastal areas, environmental refugees will exceed 20 million in coming future.

As a result, their demand for land, water, employment and other public services generate conflict with local residents. Government of Bangladesh can analyze the community risks and ensure the public participation to make their plans, programs, projects, where both public and private resources need to be allocated to the risk areas so that climate change affected people may secure their means and livelihood assets.

The bottom up planning to reduce the risk of people and accordingly public resource allocation in the running budget (FY 2018-19) can enhance their access to resources. To reduce the climatic impacts, we have to take financial initiatives and share technology for adaptation with increase mass awareness to reduce carbon use.

The writer is an environmental analyst, associate member, Bangladesh
Economic Association

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