Application of innovative CBA measures, mainstreaming and transformation in coastal Bangladesh

--Dr. Paramesh Nandy Project Manager, CBACC-CF Project and Ex-Chief Research Officer, Bangladesh Forest Research Institute

11. Dr Paramesh Nandy

Bangladesh has documented climate change as a critical development challenge in the last decade. The history of disaster preparedness experiences increased country’s capacity to carefully address climatic risks. Bangladesh NAPA (National Adaptation Programme of Action) has been the first institutional strategy undertaken in 2005 to deal with climatic risks across sectors and community. Some of the shortcomings of NAPA are that it has missed long-term, cross-sectoral and integrated strategies. Following NAPA, Bangladesh Climate Change Strategic Action Plan (BCCSAP) came into actions in 2009 with indicating programmatic interventions for adaptation across vulnerable sectors, ecosystems and social context (MoEF 2009). Over NAPA, the strategic plan has covered food security, social protection, disaster risk reduction etc. as intervention foci aligned with country’s development interests. Adaptation issue has been incorporated within financial mechanism of national budgeting system through developing climate resilient fund and schemes. As for example, the government of Bangladesh has taken innovative steps and established the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund (BCCTF) and first allocation was made about US$ 100 million in its budget for tackling climate change in spite of its limited resources. Establishment of Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (BCCRF) with initial budget of US$ 110 million is another example in the context of climate change.

Recognizing that Bangladesh is among the most vulnerable and worst affected countries to climate change impacts, the Government of Bangladesh is implementing the NAPA priority and follow-up project “Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change through Coastal Afforestation (CBACC-CF)” funded by the GEF with parallel contributions from UNDP, SDC, EKN and the Govt. of Bangladesh. This project is being piloted in four of the most vulnerable target coastal sites of four coastal districts. The executing Agency is the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF). The implementing partners are the Forest Department, Bangladesh Forest Research Institute, Department of Agricultural Extension, Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, Ministry of Land, Bangladesh Water Development Board and the United Nations Development Programme.


The project is based on the following four operational components and focuses on

1.         Enhancing resilience of communities and protective ecosystems through adaptation interventions (Coastal afforestation and Livelihood diversifications);

2.         Capacity building – at national, sub-national and local level so that the government institutions are able to actively utilize these adaptation measures in local planning and programmes;

3.         Policy Development – Reviewing existing policies and developing climate resilient policies; and

4.         Knowledge Management – Capturing and sharing knowledge within and outside Bangladesh.

The risk of climate change-induced damage to human and economic development in coastal areas of Bangladesh is mounting. Recently, climate changes have increased sensitivity of natural resources which provide livelihood to two-third of the country’s total population. It has increased unprecedented threats to life and livelihoods of people living in coastal areas of Bangladesh. Over the time, coastal population has confronted a number of tropical cyclones and storm surges, and voluminous salinity ingress. The geographical location of coastal areas along the Bay of Bengal has itself been manifested with such firsthand vulnerability of people to natural disasters followed by negative impacts on their life. In most cases, critical livelihood related sectors including Forestry, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock are severely threatened by extreme events including cyclones and flood and seasonal water logging to salinity stress leading all these into fragile ecosystems. The traditional land use patterns are changing and to somewhat facing production shortfall with the variation of precipitation time and abrupt weather events like flood, water logging and tidal surges. However, local communities possess knowledge, skills and resources around their social and ecological system to adapt (Reid et al., 2009). The effectiveness of community based adaptation (CBA) depends on national strategies for climate change to find affordable and acceptable options (Alam et al. 2013). Involvement of relevant sectors and institutions in national planning is key step to mainstreaming adaptation and most possibly to overrule the barriers in CBA. Adaptation measures are transformational when these are larger in scales, innovative in nature and capable to avoid vulnerability (Kates et al. 2012). CBA is often built on collective approach and can be recognized as transformational based on its cumulative effects of adaptation practices (Ensor and Berger 2009, Reid et al. 2009). Transformational CBA can provide important focuses on integrated risk management and institutional arrangement for innovative solutions and priority basis resource allocation.

Existing level of adaptive capacity and CBA initiatives in Bangladesh

Bangladesh NAPA and Initial National Communication (INC) established that a weak economy and widespread poverty in Bangladesh has contributed to low adaptive capacity to withstand the adverse impacts of climate change. Coastal communities possess lower adaptive capacity to cope with climatic hazards and adapt to long-run. The increasing frequency of cyclones and tidal surges reduce their reorganization time-span in post-hazard recovery period. Traditional adaptation measures of coastal people are dependent on single agriculture or fishing through either of these lack advanced technology, information and use of appropriate knowledge to hazard risk management. Often the recovery of land or aquaculture pond into productive regime takes much time. Integrated land uses and diversified livelihood practices that address growing hazards and future uncertainty might reduce their sensitivity and improved adaptive capacity.

In fact, local people have been spontaneously involved in diverse livelihood adaptation practices in a scattered and disorganized way since their settlement in the coastal areas. These practices mostly depend on their needs and capacity to use traditional knowledge and external resources available with them. Some organized CBA initiatives particularly adaptation practices on crab fattening, mele cultivation & mat preparation, poly culture, floating garden, cage culture etc. (Ahammad 2010) have been recorded till today but mostly on water logged and adjacent homestead areas. Currently, IPAC and Nishorgo Network highly focused on conservation, collaborative management and pro-poor activities and mostly addressed with the community living around the forest, wetland and ECAs (Philip et al. 2012). These initiatives are the valuable base line information for CBA prctices in Bangladesh. Until recently, not enough CBA projects had been implemented throughout the region, as a result, transformational changes and mainstreaming of CBA best practices have not yet been scaled out for their incorporation in the national development agenda.

Initial Problem findings and solution mechanisms

CBACC-CF project prepared participatory and community-based adaptation plans for four project upazilas viz. Anwara of Chittagong, Hatiya of Noakhali, Char Fassion of Bhola and Barguna Sadar of Barguna  coastal districts encompassing the information on biophysical, socioeconomic and climate vulnerabilities of different communities. Local adaptation needs were assessed and currently available adaptation measures regarding coastal afforestation, existing livelihood options agriculture-based (crop/livestock), fisheries-based (river/sea), forestry-based (timber/non-timber), and local preparedness systems for extreme events were documented with the active participation of local communities. The project also conducted Participatory Rural Appraisals (PRA) at the community level in target areas to determine existing capacities and training needs for vulnerable communities on longer-term climatic and environmental changes. Vulnerability assessment in 4 project sites showed the following problematic focuses that requires appropriate and immediate adaptation interventions:

A)        The livelihoods of coastal communities are highly dependent on climate sensitive sectors like Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Livestock while most of the projects are targeted to only one of these major sectors and ended with the progress of sector wise implementation. Such sector wise split type of intervention can reduce the vulnerability of communities for time being or hardly for one season of the year. This type of piece meal approach even is not sufficient to cope with their annual vulnerabilities and hence innovative integrated approach is required that will provide recurrent benefits to increase the resilience of communities to withstand against climate change impacts beyond their annual vulnerabilities.

B)        Coastal zone of Bangladesh covers 20% of the rice acreage of the country, while in most of the exposed coastal areas, rice is grown once in a year (during rainy season) with the use of local traditional variety due to higher level of salinity. The rest of the seasons, the lands remain fallow. Livelihoods in the exposed coastal areas are highly dependent on selling of labor. In the fishing season, most of the fishermen communities serve as labor in fishing boats. Even in the off season of fishing, they have to migrate due to scarcity of productive sectors to engage themselves as labor. Moreover, their income from fishing has already been reduced to half compared to the last decade due to the increased number of sea signals per years that restrict the fishing boat to go for fishing.

C)        Another important observation is that the communities are involved in different social afforestation programmes through long term benefit-sharing approach. The beneficiaries have to wait at least 10-12 years till the maturity of tree stands for getting benefits even from fast growing tree species. This type of community based intervention also does not bear fruit or provide any alternative cropping mechanism rather these group of beneficiaries are compounded with the complex set of problems due to cumulative climate change impacts during this period.

D)        The ecosystem of coastal mangrove forest is dominated by monoculture species particularly with Sonneratia apetala. It can tolerate high frequency of inundation and serves as only pioneer species, suitable for plantation in newly accreted lands. Being a pioneer species in ecological succession, it is strong light demanding species and cannot grow under the shade of other trees and usually forms pure stands. Throughout coastal areas, it does not regenerate at all. In order to enrich plant densities per unit area and sustain coastal vegetation and make the ecosystem climate resilient, what is urgently needed is to introduce other mangrove species to fill up these gaps of coastal forests.

E)        The understanding of climate change risks, impacts and potential adaptation measures is currently limited in government agencies as well as civil society in Bangladesh. Climate risks have not been incorporated into coastal planning frameworks at the national and local levels. This is partly because climate change concerns are relatively new, but also because of capacity gaps in accessing, understanding, and applying climate information in sectoral planning. Capacity building of govt. officials at national and local level is required to incorporate climatic risk reduction in their respective sectors and service delivery.

F)         Most of the coastal people are depending on single fishing activities with very limited skills and knowledge on integrated farming. It indicates that they require new information and capacity building for addressing climatic risks through alternative livelihood model.

The following chronological processes and tools for the involvement of vulnerable coastal communities were used for the solution:

The project basically started its implementation since 2010. PRA in each project site enables to find out that most vulnerable group from each project site. Field survey was conducted throughout eastern central and western coastal belts to find out the gaps in the existing coastal ecosystem.

From the very beginning of the project, special government notifications were made for providing access of government lands to the landless people and marginalized groups of the local communities. The notification includes criteria for the selection of beneficiaries. It also includes specific leasing schedule indicating that the government land is being distributed to the communities for 10 years and based on their better performance it will be automatically renewed up to 20 years.

To involve them in decision making process, Community Awareness Training were conducted, formed Local Climate Clubs at grass root level and local Co-Management Committee (CMC) in each project site.

After the distribution of land ownership, local communities were involved in resource generation options for which all inputs in the first year were provided from the project and facilitated by the local Community Development Associates of the project with the support of all participating government departments.

During the period of project implementation, it has been observed that there exists relief culture in the disaster prone coastal areas of Bangladesh. Accordingly, another innovative management approach has been developed for the formation of beneficiary societies of the project in order to develop self-help options among beneficiaries which are now under implementation and beneficiary societies have already been formed in three project sites.

Local government departments like DAE, FD, DoF, DLS and BFRI were involved as service provider in supporting the solution. Along with technical assistance programmes, these departments participated in demonstrating modern technologies through introducing high yielding salt tolerant varieties. Every beneficiary was also involved in skill development capacity building training programmes by respective departments.

Local CMCs were established as local adaptation platforms for decision-making in each project sites. Government notification was made for the formation of CMC in each project site headed by the UNO (Upazilla Nirbahi Officer or Head of Local Government). The CMC includes representatives of all implementing departments, elected local Union Parishad Chairman & 2 word members elected from adjacent forest villages, 2 women members and 2 civil society members from beneficiaries. This CMC serves as local executing council of the project. Besides, District Steering Committee (DSC) has been formed, headed by the DC (Deputy Commissioner of Head of District Government). The role of DSC is to supervise the activities of respective CMC.

Innovative approach for enhancing resilience of communities

Frequently asked, what are the innovative CBA options applied by the project for enhancing the ability of communities to adapt to climate change? How it reduces the dependency on coastal ecosystem?

Our understanding of coastal ecosystems is less developed and limits to effective adaptation plan due to large scale and process. The significant constraint of coastal management is to define how different constituents in the complex system respond to climate changes and adaptation measures (Nicholls et al. 2007). Social and ecological processes of coastal ecosystems are closely interactive that adaptive strategies must be analyzed within an integrated adaptation framework than isolated adaptation interventions (Klein et al. 1998). The CBACC-CF project has pioneered in implementing an innovative and integrated land-use model for providing climate resilient livelihoods for coastal communities living around coastal forests. The key part of the model, known locally as the Forest, Fish, Fruit model (Triple F, or FFF), uses largely encroached, periodically inundated and unproductive fallow lands behind mangrove forests to develop participatory ownership and adaptation practices. Much of this fallow land was open access property captured by local elites through encroachment for further deforestation. The project realized that livelihoods of people living around mangrove plantations depend heavily on four climate-sensitive sectors: agriculture, forestry, fisheries and livestock. Climate change impacts on these sectors contribute to the low adaptive capacity of coastal communities.

The FFF model was developed to explore new options for resource and income generation by integrating all four sectors in one system to sustain a continuous flow of resources. The model comprises short-term, medium-term, medium to long-term and long-term resource generation measures that contribute to recurrent income generation, leading ultimately to livelihood sustainability and increased adaptive capacity of poor coastal communities. Since project inception, land ownership has been transferred to coastal communities with tenure for diversified livelihood practices. A ditch and dyke system of FFF model is being used to promote adaptation practices, and currently over 110 ha of fallow land has been developed for pilot adaptation interventions in three coastal districts. In each hectare, eight ditches and nine dykes were developed and distributed to eight families, on a ten-year land ownership agreement with renewal opportunities depending upon the beneficiaries’ performance. Importantly, local people contribute half of the labour costs by working in earth excavation for ditch and dyke development. To be noted that these lands in between coastal forest and embankment were lying barren years after years due to periodical inundation during new moon & full moon high tides and salinity intrusion and exposed to threats of encroachment. Neither agricultural nor main land species were suitable to grow in these saline lands. Once horizontal use of these lands was not possible, the project introduced innovative land use technology for vertical using of these lands.

In this model, short term crops planted as dyke vegetation with 6-7 types of vegetables on 60m long and 3m wide strip on the top of the dyke as well as creeping vegetables on scaffolding erected on the edges of each ditch produced 80-100 kg leafy vegetables. Sale and surplus vegetables after household consumption increased their family income about BDT. 20,000/- per year. Short to mid term interventions through introduction of duck cum fish technology produced 100-120 kg of fish yearly. These meet household protein needs and bring additional income from selling fish and eggs up to BDT.50,000/-per family/yr. Besides, quick growing and early yielding fruit varieties with a potential of producing 10-20 kg fruits per tree within 1-2 years of planting generate family income of about BDT. 30,000/- per year. Forest tree species planted on dyke will provide long term timber and mid term fuel wood from branch pruning and food products from palm species (Cocos nucifera). Thus, the landless and marginalized groups have increased their income more than 330% compared to their baseline income.

Integrated approaches of FFF provides multiple natural resource options to accrue both conservation and production benefits. The initiative secured land entitlement and the beneficiaries owned the generated resources that secure opportunity for them to sustainably govern the benefits in the long run. As a result, the project innovatively strengthened their coping ability to adapt to potential climate change.

Innovative approach for enhancing resilience of protective ecosystem

Accreted Lands in Bangladesh have been differentiated into 5 types based on different nature of accretions (Nandy 2007) viz. absolutely new accretions with high frequency of inundation which are submerged throughout the year. Only the pioneer species like S. apetala and A. officinalis can tolerate high frequency of inundation coupled with tidal fluctuations. About 1600 – 2000 hectares of such new accretions are rising annually throughout the coastal regions of Bangladesh from the Bay of Bengal. The other types are periodically inundated for 3, 6, 9 and 12 months of the year. The CBACC-CF project has taken advantages of availability of new, moderate and moderate to highly accreted lands in project sites as well as community enthusiasm, and combines these opportunities to increase coverage of the greenbelt area with mangroves and non-mangroves to create a buffer zone.

As of today, Bangladesh Forest Department established 8500 ha of mangrove plantations in newly accreted lands by engaging 178,500 coastal people in cash-for-work (CfW) programmes; 322 ha of non-mangrove mound plantations in moderately accreted lands by engaging 97,276 coastal people in CfW programmes; 112 ha of non-mangrove dyke plantations in moderately high accreted lands by involving 896 coastal beneficiaries and 680 km of strip plantations by involving 3400 beneficiaries of CBACC-CF project. Thus, the project has implemented four types of climate resilient plantations that will provide significant impacts on coastal ecosystems and protective measures to the adjacent coastal communities as well as to all on-going adaptation interventions. The project also provided opportunities for the conversion of thousands of hectares of barren lands located in between coastal forest and embankment into productive resource management regimes through ditch-dyke structures that offer multiple livelihood options.

However, mangrove ecosystem is already threatened due to lack of its regeneration and hence its functional capacity and potential protection capacity appears sensitive. Moreover, increasing conversion of forest land for other land uses are likely to be sensitive to frequent and intensive cyclone events. Opening or gaps in existing mangrove patches are also likely to be furthering sensitivity of the vegetation in intensive cyclonic events. Reconnaissance survey in existing S. apetala plantations raised in 1985-1986 indicates that the existing tree stands comprise at an average of 788 nos. trees/ha. Among the planted 4444 seedlings/ha, only 673 trees/ha in the Central, 803 trees/ha in the Eastern and 890 trees/ha in the Western coastal belts are now available (Nandy et al. 2004).  It means that, hardly 1,000 trees at its maturity out of the planted 4,444 nos. seedlings are found to survive with a big opening in between the matured trees due to lack of regeneration of S. apetala in the coastal areas of Bangladesh. Plant densities per unit area can be increased up to 3.3 times by replanting other commercially important mangrove spevies in existing forests which will minimize the adverse impact of monoculture and enhance the security of coastal communities from tidal waves of tsunami and other climatic hazards (Nandy, 2010).

To enrich and sustain coastal vegetation, the CBACC-CF project introduced 10 commercially important mangrove species as under planting within almost 150 ha of S. apetala plantation. This effort will increase number of trees per unit area preventing climate related wind velocity and other weather events. The introduced species are Heritiera fomes, Excoecaria agllocha, Xylocarpus mekongensis, Cynometra ramiflora, Aegiceras corniculatum, Bruguiera sexangula, Phoenix paludosa, Nypa fruticans, Lumnitzera racemossa and Ceriops dacandra which were previously evaluated and selected by BFRI for differently inundated coastal habitats. Thus, the CBACC-CF project introduced new coastal forest guidelines/large scale practices through large scale model demonstration that will increase forest productivity and sustain biodiversity throughout coastal areas. Mixed plantation contribute to fill in the gaps of the existing and partially mangrove patches and so response diversity of the species can easily sustain the habitat structure to cope with current and future cyclonic wind and storm surges. It is now increasingly recognized that well managed coastal ecosystems can help local communities adapt to current and future climate change hazards by proving a wide range of ecosystem services. This is one of the reasons why commercially important mangrove species have been introduced by the project. Thus, the CBACC-CF project innovatively enhanced the resilience of protective ecosystems of coastal Bangladesh.


Innovative approach for enhancing the community resilience through changing cropping pattern

Coastal communities are generally sensitive to climatic hazards though particular single occupation group like fishermen, landless and small-scale farmers remain hard hit to climatic hazards. Due to lack of alternative livelihoods or climate resilient land uses and protective measures or access to external institutional services these groups are highly sensitive to current and future effects of climatic hazards. Due to salinity intrusion, about 70% of the coastal lands remain periodically unproductive for 4 to 6 months in a year particularly in the exposed coastal areas. Nearly 50% of lands used for agriculture and aquaculture to increasingly sensitive to salinity with storm surges and associated inundation regime. SLR is likely to exaggerate sensitivity of coastal lands to more unpredictable and excess effects of salt water

Agricultural practice is increasingly constrained with high level of salinity ingress and frequent and severe impacts of natural disasters in coastal areas. Given the impacts of seasonal water logging and salinity on land, and lack of irrigation in dry seasons, alternative cropping practice through use of climate resilient rice varieties have been a vital need for agricultural production in the area. The CBACC-CF project has introduced high yielding and salt tolerant rice variety (BR 47) in four coastal districts. Considering lower land productivity, the rice variety has been found potential crop in coastal areas. The BR 47 (Bangladesh Rice 47) variety has increased annual production from previously fallow and salinity affected lands and eventually fulfilled household food consumption. Largely coastal people depend on the traditional rain fed Aman which is the single crop. The yield benefits from the demonstration reflect increasing people’s attention in coastal areas for cultivating additional land in subsequent years. In one project site of Barguna sadar upazila, there is currently more than 1000 ha of lands cultivated with the rice variety BR 47. Demonstration of improved fruit varieties in farmer’s fields in all project sites also motivated others to enrich their health nutrition and alternative income during off-farm seasons.

The paddy has yielded three times more production per hectare compared to traditionally used local varieties. Most of the coastal farmers in the project areas are accepting the double cropping pattern with the new variety to reduce seasonal risks and adapt to food crisis. Otherwise, it is not possible to secure household foods only depending on traditional rice cropping. The cultivation of the BR 47 variety requires less water and has tolerance capacity to certain level of soil salinity in dry season. Such spontaneously motivated and quickly spreading paddy area with BR 47 resulted scarcity of its seed sources for further cultivation in enlarged coastal areas. These appears as additional economic benefits for the project beneficiaries from selling rice and seeds. Access to training of seasonal risk management, improved rice varieties and land use techniques is important for improving capacity building of the farmers in coastal areas. However, the initial cultivation of salt tolerant rice production system requires seed source and irrigation where external supports of extension services must be ensured. Thus, the project converted single cropping to double cropping patterns in the previously fallow paddy lands that ensures not only food security of vulnerable coastal communities but also their additional income would increase their further copping abilities contributing to further enhancing community resilience.


Climate resilient policy recommendations and framework for mainstreaming

CBACC-CF project also looks into the policy framework regarding coastal zone management and provides recommendations for developing climate-resilient policies for National Forest Policy (NFP) 1994; National Land-use Policy 2001 (NLP); Coastal Zone Management Policy (CZMP) 2005 and National Environment Policy (NEP) 1992. UNDP through IUCN-Bangladesh made a gap analysis of existing policies and prepared the following climate resilient policy recommendations with framework for mainstreaming of these policies.

Climate Resilient Policy Recom mendations for NFP

w         Climate resilient/ stress tolerant afforestation should be promoted with site specific guidelines

w         All USF lands and newly accreted char-lands should be under afforestation.

w         An effective, functional and strong green belt must be created and properly maintained all along the coast.

w         The carbon sequestration capability of our forests should be enhanced.

w         A climate change monitoring system has to be setup within the FD.

w         Ensure sustainability of forest ecosystem and biodiversity through ecosystem based management, community involvement/ co-management approach

w         Site specific suitable enrichment plantation should be promoted to enhance the biodiversity in the degraded forests

w         In case of afforestation programs, mixed plantations (with fodder and fruit trees where applicable) should be ensured to support biodiversity

Climate Resilient Policy Recommendations for NLP

w         The policy has covered many aspects regarding livelihood support to vulnerable landless communities though special emphasis on the people living in the climate change affected areas is required.

w         In several articles of the policy illustration climate change issues can be incorporated, such as in article 3 (land zoning), article 10 (coastal area).

w         One of the objectives of the land use policy should be ‘Planning, Preservation and Effective Use of Land in the Climate Change Affected Areas’.

w         Disaster prone and climate change affected areas should be demarcated as separate zone, where land use will be based on the severity of the effects of climate change induced disasters.

Special land development program should be taken in the climate change affected areas (salinity, water logging); Protection of freshwater bodies in salinity affected coastal areas and drought prone areas; There should be sufficient clauses in the concerned land acts for coastal land management (prevent land conversion). Land erosion/ loss data should be in the data bank.

Climate Resilient Policy Recommendations for NEP

Synergy between future NEP, National Energy Policy (NEP) and National Renewable Energy Policy (NREP) 2008 should be ensured; Due importance on Population pressure and Environmental integration should be considered, Linkage between population control policy and environmental management of the country should be established.

w         Environmental Sustainability;

w         Environmental Justice;

w         Ecosystem Based Natural Resource Management;

w         Mainstreaming Environment and climate change issues into the Planning, Development and Implementation processes;

w         Polluters Pay Principles.

The inadequate integration of social, ecological and political system within climate resilient focused approach is actually undermining the dynamic causes of environmental degradation and affecting the management and efficiency of measures for human well-being. A comprehensive and evidence based strategy that actually address the risks and impacts in human-environment nexus will be urgent.

Climate Resilient Policy Recommendations for CZMP

The following may be included in the preamble: coastal zone has unique ecosystems and natural resources which are vulnerable to climate change, sea level rise and natural hazards. One of the principles should be – ‘climate resilient development of livelihoods and ecosystem protection’. The goal should also include – ‘development of sustainable climate resilient livelihoods and maintain ecological integrity’ Development of infrastructure (industries, communication, transportation systems, energy supplies) related to economic activities considering the long term impacts of CC and changes in the coastal islands; Adaptive management measures will be taken to reduce vulnerabilities of livelihoods and ecosystems considering long term impacts of current development as