CBA Bangladesh: Coping with Climate Risks by Empowering Women in Coastal Areas (GBSS)

Introduction

This project aims to reduce the vulnerability of people living in four proposed villages under Dashmina upazila in Bangladesh by establishing Women Resource Centers (WRC) that will foster a community approach to climate change awareness and adaptation planning. The target sites already face an eroding natural resource base and biodiversity, and the potential for damaging cyclones, tidal surges, and drought are projected to increase.

By empowering marginalized women, this project will increase their access to resources, diversified livelihood activities, health and sanitation needs, and agricultural production. Teams of 18-20 women will be responsible for establishing and operating seed banks, planting nurseries, building vegetable gardens, rearing livestock, and coordinating climate change awareness campaigns. Gram Bikash Shohayak Shangstha (GBSS), the coordinating NGO, will ensure that the women have appropriate access to materials and funds by establishing linkages with government, NGO, and community leaders.

This project is part of Bangladesh's Community-Based Adaptation portfolio. *

Project Details

In Southwestern Bangladesh, Dashmina Upazila in the Patuakhali district consists of six unions.  Two of these unions, Alipura and Banshbaria Unions, are highly vulnerable to natural hazards brought on by climate change.  The unions are surrounded by the Tetulia and Sutabaria rivers and are situated at the confluence of the Bay of Bengal in one of the most remote areas of Patuakhali District. Due to its close proximity to water bodies, villages and farmlands in the area are at risk from rising water levels, salinity intrusion, floods, droughts, and cyclones. Rice cultivation is the main income source for approximately 95 percent of households with a small portion engaging in fishing as well. Climate change driven challenges in the project sites include: 1.) scarcity of fresh water due to less rain and higher evapo-transpiration in the dry season, 2.) drainage congestion due to higher water levels in the confluence with the rise of sea level,3.)riverbank erosion, 4.)high frequency of floods, 5.)  prolonged duration and widespread drought, 6.) increased salinity in the surface, ground and soil in the coastal zones. Additionally, recent cyclones have severely damaged crops, decreased fish stocks and compromised fresh water sources. These climate change impacts have reduced production yields leading to food insecurity and limited economic growth in the communities. The surrounding wetland region is rich in biodiversity and economic potential, and is critical in controlling floods and water surges. However, it also faces massive destruction from recent severe cyclonic events. Given the risk of natural hazards, isolated geography, lack of infrastructure, low economic development and dependence on natural resources, the project area contains one of the most vulnerable communities to climate change in the district, and it is at risk of losing villages and livelihoods.  Faced with these challenges, villagers are selling possessions, taking high-interest loans, and becoming more dependent on government relief services, all of which are temporary solutions that negatively affect long-term adaptive capacity.

Additionally, women in the project area are highly vulnerable to climate change impacts given their limited access to resources and limited stake in decision-making. The degradation of natural resources makes it increasingly difficult for women to perform household responsibilities, such as collecting firewood, securing potable water and making food for their family. As a result, women must travel further from the home and work harder to gather supplies that detract from other productive activities like vegetable farming. Their dependency on degraded natural resources makes women especially vulnerable to diminished livelihoods and increased poverty. 

This CBA Project targets four villages in Dashmina Upazila: Mirmadan & Purba Alipura village of the Alipura Union and Banshbaria & Dhandania village of the Banshbaria Union. With a population of 40,519 people (44% female, 56% male), the main objective of this project is to restore livelihood options and opportunities of vulnerable communities by improving the ecosystems they rely on, of which are being threatened by climate change impacts.  The development of nurseries and plantations will protect seeds and grains and maintain the communities’ food-grain self-sufficiency.  The introduction and exploration of cattle and goat breeding provides income-generating and income-diversification opportunities.  Additionally, as the marginal groups in the project sites (women and girls) are more vulnerable to climate change because they do not have access to government services due to social norms, the establishment of Women Resource Centers (WRCs) at the village group ensure that all their needs are heard and addressed.  The WRCs also provide a support system where they learn new skills on financial management including negotiation skills and operational skills needed to run a community-based organization (CBO), as well as providing a bridge for various community outreach organizations that provide support to women in the areas of livelihood opportunities, health and sanitation, agriculture and other issues for women in the changing climatic conditions.

Climate-Related Hazards Addressed: 
Level of Intervention: 
Key Collaborators: 
Primary Beneficiaries: 
Marginalized Women
Implementing Agencies & Partnering Organizations: 
Gram Bikash Shohayak Shangstha (GBSS)
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
Government of Bangladesh
UK Department for International Development (DFID)
Project Status: 
Under Implementation
Location: 
Rural
Funding Source: 
Financing Amount: 
$47,970
Co-Financing Total: 
Community: $35,003; Union: $841; GBSS: $7,551

Key Results and Outputs

Outcome 1: Women Resource Centers (WRC) established at village level

Form 8 twenty-member women groups at the village level (Output 1.1), develop operating guidelines through a consultative process (Output 1.2), and sensitize all 160 members to climate change issues (Output 1.3). Through a workshop with government, NGO, and community leaders about the importance of the WRC (Output 1.4), ensure government support services for the WRC to function as a service and health center (Output 1.5).

Outcome 2: Women-led improvement in seed supply system at the household and community levels

Establish two seed banks (Output 2.1) and detail operating guidelines (Output 2.2) to support local farmers during plantation period by ensuring proper seed protection and quality. Organize workshops for government officials, NGOs, and farmers (Output 2.3), and orientations for women group members (Output 2.4) to relate the importance of seed banks. Ensure available start-up materials and equipment, including financial support (Output 2.5).

Outcome 3:  Increased agro-biodiversity-based household income in selected communities

Increase household income, led by women (Output 3.1). Rehabilitate wetland area by establishing a nursery, planting trees, and building a vegetable garden (Output 3.2), supporting these efforts by ensuring women’s access to resources through rearing of poultry and livestock (Output 3.3).

Outcome 4: Linkages and support established with government and NGOs

Organize Group Member trainings (Output 4.1) and engage community members in awareness-raising programs (e.g. folk song/dramas; billboards; posters/leaflets; audio-visual materials) (Output 4.2) to enhance knowledge of climate change risk and adaptation options. Organize community-level sensitization workshop involving government, NGO, and community representatives (Output 4.3).

Reports and Publications

Monitoring and Evaluation

This project has decided to perform the monitoring activities through a participatory process, and thus the monitoring system will be designed to cover/involve all the project participants/stakeholders. The stages of monitoring will be as follows:

1. to ensure the effective and appropriate utilization of the resources, monitors will review all relevant documents;

2. to ensure quality of the project activities, monitors will visit the work place and observe ongoing or performed activities;

3. to validate the plan activities, monitors will perform in-depth interviews with the community people and project participants;

4. to ensure the ownership of the SMC/PIC at school level monitors will meet with the PIC members.

In addition, teams will review different documents for validation of the performed or planned activities. Different monitoring tools will be developed used for both quality and quantity monitoring. Monitoring teams will collect data using prescribed formats, compiling them on a monthly basis. Findings will be shared amongst staff members and partners.

The project is planning assessment through Vulnerability Reduction Assessment (VRA) using all four indicators in addition to day-to-day monitoring. A VRA session has already been conducted and will be monitored and measured again in a second VRA meeting planned to be conducted during the implementation phase (halfway) and again upon completion of the project.

Contacts

GBSS
Ms. Masuda Farouk Ratna
Executive Director
UNDP
CBA Project Management Unit