UNITAR affiliated Centre CIFAL Scotland Project launch - Building Capacity & Empowering Communities in Khulna & Bagerhat Southern Bangladesh
Communities in the delta area of Bangladesh are in grave danger of salt-water inundation from huge tidal rivers that are increasingly breaking their banks. This can devastate villages, damage the simple houses and leave the locals struggling to grow crops in salinated soil. CIFAL Scotland, UNITAR Affiliated Training Centre, the Bangladesh Association of Sustainable Development (BASD) and Gaia Education have responded to this dire situation with a 3-year consortium project. The project aims to improve sustainable food security and livelihoods of the vulnerable communities of Khulna and Bagerhat, Southern Bangladesh, through capacity building programmes, effective climate change adaptation strategies and interventions. The project was approved for funding by the Scottish Government in May 2013.
The official project launch was on 20 July 2013 in Khulna Municipal Offices chaired by Keka Adhikery, President of BASD and attended by over 100 people representing target communities, government departments, local officials and other stakeholders. The Chief Guest Md. Mezbah Uddin, Honorable Deputy Commissioner of Khulna and all guests were welcomed with flowers and in keeping with local diverse cultures there was a recital from the Holy Quran by local Imam, a reading from the Holy Gita, and a Christian prayer.
Boniface S. Gomes. Executive Director of BASD, and Sylvester S Costa, Project Consultant, described how the project would address four core areas using a community based empowerment approach. The first output is concerned with training village leaders to increase community resilience, the second implementation of small-scale climate smart agriculture projects to increase food security, the third climate change adaptation demonstration schemes for local houses and the fourth advocacy to influence opinion relating to climate change policy locally, nationally, and internationally. Jane Rasbash, Project Director, delivered a welcome speech on behalf of CIFAL Scotland highlighting the intention to build upon the body of knowledge of ecovillages of the region and all the community work being developed by BASD and the villagers over the last 8 years in the project area.
The Deputy Commissioner stressed the importance of collaboration between Government Organisations (GOs), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), and community people. Several community leaders spoke of their positive experience working with BASD, building small-scale Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and micro credit programmes resulting in community cohesiveness and empowerment.
Mrs. Keka Adhikary, Chairman of the Launching Program and BASD closed the launch thanking the honorable guests and participants for attending the evening and reaffirming the importance of cooperation between all stakeholders for smooth implementation of the activities over the next three years.
Image 1: These simple houses are lower than high water level with only a fragile causeway to keep out the tidal waters of the mighty River Poshur.
Image 2: Dalit Children
Image 3: Jane Rasbash with community leaders at project orientation in local BASD office