Over the last years, consequences of climate change and delta related challenges have severely overwhelmed Bangladesh, which is the most populated delta in the world. No country on earth is protected from climate change but Bangladesh, because of being a delta country, has been in the eye of the storm.
For years, the country has been facing a number of delta related challenges in the form of frequent natural hazards, salinity intrusion, sea level rise, and so on. Thus already Bangladesh has gone through a high pressure on its land and water resources.
But it is also to note that Bangladesh as a delta country has had some privileges nonetheless. In order to explore and tap the full potential of a delta country, making a strategic delta management plan is more than a necessity. As Bangladesh is vulnerable to these challenges as well as climate change impacts, sustainable developments require the calibre to cope with climatic variables. Such challenges indeed require a long term delta management plan. It is good to note that, in a bid to deal with issues like climate change, water resources management and so many others, the government has approved a fifty to hundred years’ long “Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100” in September this year. ‘BDP 2100’ encompasses different sectors like agriculture, fisheries, industry, forestation, water management, and sanitation. The main theme of ‘BDP 2100’ is water resources management in consideration of climate change effects.
As per the Inception Report for the ‘BDP 2100,’ “The mission is to develop strategies which contribute to disaster risk reduction, water safety, climate change resilience and adaptation, food security, and economic development of the country.”
It is envisaged that ‘BDP 2100’ will enable the country to deal with climate change in a more efficient and strategic way. Most importantly, ‘BDP 2100’ will help the country reclaim a big mass of land from the Bay of Bengal. Hence it can be hoped that the proper implementation of the project will be the key to tackle climate change challenges.
Reportedly, the short-term measures of the Plan will be implemented by 2030, while the mid-term ones by 2050 and the long-term ones by 2100. The government will need USD 37 billion by 2030 for implementing the plan. Experts are of the opinion that Bangladesh can boost its GDP growth by another 1.5 percent within 2030 through implementing the Plan. Under the Plan, 80 projects have been selected for implementation. Sixty-five of the projects will be infrastructural ones while 15 others will be aimed at enhancing institutional capacity, efficiency and research. The required fund for the 80 projects will come from the government, Green Climate Fund, development partners, foreign direct investment and the private sector.
As most of the finance will come through the foreign agencies and most of the project consultants desployed to operate and implement the project are from abroad, a strict monitoring will be pertinent while implementing the project. After implementing its own delta management plan, Netherlands, reclaimed 6,000 square kilometres of land and the country is now assisting Bangladesh in executing the plan. However, following Netherlands, Bangladesh should also try to reclaim a big mass of land from the Bay of Bengal through implementing sthe plan.
A few years back, experts feared that in near future climate change will result in sea level rise which will inundate 17 per cent of the country’s land. Pessimistic experts predicted that Himalayan glaciers would melt down very fast and completely by 2010. However, experts too would be happy to note that their statement has been proved wrong and implausible enough.
It is very interesting that experts now are planning to reclaim landmass through water resource management. Every year rivers from Himalayas bring tonnes of sediments while crossing Bangladesh, which earlier gave birth to some 1,000 square kilometres of land. Experts envisage that through this process in the next 50 years Bangladesh can reclaim at least 1,000 square kilometres naturally. However, it is said that with the use of new technology, Bangladesh could speed up the accretion process as Netherlands did. In this regard, building more dams using advanced technology is very much needed which would enable Bangladesh to reclaim 4,000 to 5,000 square kilometres in the near future.
It is sad but true that no earlier government in Bangladesh devised any plan to explore such potential of being a delta country. Over the years, no plans have been devised to build infrastructures needed to accelerate the process.
But now the government has come up with a more consistent and strategic way to deal the issue. Hence, it can be hoped that instead of losing landmass because of sea level rise, Bangladesh will reclaim landmass through water resource management.
Over the last ten years, despite facing adverse climate change impacts in the form of frequent natural disasters, Bangladesh has successfully executed numerous significant achievements in various sectors. The economic growth over the last 10 years has been commendable which has pulled the country out of poverty. But due to population growth, delta related-challenges and climate change impacts, it will not be easygoing to sustain the country’s economic growth. Therefore, it can be hoped that through implementing ‘BDP 2100’, the country will be able to efficiently tackle the climate and delta related challenges in near future.
S H B Shuvro is an editorial
assistant atBangladesh Post