Bangladesh is located in a geographically precarious position in the South Asian subcontinent. The country is both a low-lying and lower riparian state. It has areas vulnerable to famine due to water shortages while vast plains in the country are prone to flooding from rains and upper ocean currents. The increasing frequency of cyclones in the Bay of Bengal causes significant damages setting the region backwards in terms of development. The millions of people settled in the world’s largest delta formed by Brahmaputra, Meghna and Ganges water systems are particularly vulnerable.
The Bangladesh Delta Plan (BDP 2100) was in the works for some time and was approved in 2018. It is envisioned as a project to secure the future of Bangladesh’s vast delta region by the end of the century. Its mission is to “ensure long term water and food security, economic growth and environmental sustainability while effectively reducing vulnerability to natural disasters and building resilience to climate change and other delta challenges through robust, adaptive and integrated strategies and equitable water governance.”
To build a “safe, climate-resilient and prosperous delta,” the BDP 2100 “integrates all delta-related sector plans and policies, enveloping a Delta Vision and strategies that make it possible to integrate sector plans and policies for the long term and to present actionable interventions with a roadmap for realization.”
BDP 2100 has 9 goals, 3 national and 6 delta specific. The three national goals include eliminating poverty by 2030, upper-middle- income status by the same year, and making Bangladesh a prosperous country by 2041. The six BDP 2100 goals include protection from floods and disasters from climate change, water security, sustainable and integrated river management system including estuaries management, conservation of wetlands, effective institutional in-country and transboundary water resources management, and finally create a system for the effective usage of land and water resources.
The BDP 2100 has 3 distributed responsibility strategies to implement the broad objectives. At the national level, fresh water and flood risk management are included. At the hotspot level, the sensitive zones with environmental risks, urban areas and disaster-prone areas are included. For cross-cutting issues like land usage, agriculture, water usage, and other areas; a different strategy is adopted.
The Netherlands has been the partner nation in this project. BDP 2100 will require the support of foreign partners like the World Bank to effectively and timely implement the 80 odd projects under the plan in this decade. Out of the 80 projects, 6 are physical and 15 are knowledge- based in nature. The plan will require an investment of $37billion while construction of the projects may extend beyond the decade.
Bangladesh is growing at a comfortable pace and the flourishing economy can support the BDP 2100 plan although it will consume approximately 2.5% of the GDP per annum when it picks full pace. However, the cost and complications of the project are still challenging. Recently, Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen sought global support for the disaster mitigation plan. The requests were made to IMF and Netherlands ministers in separate meetings during the Global Center on Adaptation in Rotterdam held in the first week of September. He highlighted the urgency of raising river banks and building embankments to counter the rise in sea level.
Bangladesh’s ambitious efforts to safeguard its highly populated productive areas from the harsh effects of climate change is well perceived and futuristic. Neighbouring India also pitched for climate resilience infrastructure due to the greater damages caused by climate disasters in its various areas. This includes the vulnerable coastal areas of the Eastern India and north-Eastern India. Most of the rivers in Bangladesh enter the country from Indian landmass too and the magnificent Sundarbans are shared by both. It makes good sense for Dhaka to cooperate extensively in building joint contingencies with its neighbour.
Bangladesh’s century length approach to safeguard its areas from climate change is the approach other developing countries must share and emulate according to their unique demands. A combined approach to mitigate the vagaries of nature will help in pooling resources and knowledge for the same among the developing countries and the greater world.
Photo Credit : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganges_Delta#/media/File:Ganges_Delta_ESA22274217.jpeg