CBA Bangladesh: Strengthening Community Resilience in the Southwestern Coastal Area (Practical Action)

Introduction

Due to its high levels of poverty and close proximity to water, Atulia Union in the southwestern coastal region of Bangladesh is considered to be one of the most vulnerable areas to climate change. Over the last few decades both farming and aquaculture activities have become less productive as soil degrades, water salinizes, and competition for resources increases. More than 56 percent of the area’s population is now food-deficient for 2 to 6 months out of every year. After being severely damaged by the 2009 Aila cyclone, local soil and water ecosystems became weakened and are thus more vulnerable to subsequent climatic impacts. Area villages also suffered from infrastructure damage, loss of property, and loss of livelihood during the cyclone.

This project aims to improve the resilience of Bangladesh’s coastal communities through strengthened ecosystem functions and protected livelihoods. The community will benefit from improved aquaculture practices and reduced negative pressure on natural aquatic animals, thereby enhancing livelihood opportunities. A thriving model of sustainable development will improve the resilience of the community—and the local ecosystem—to climate change impacts.

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

Project Details

This project will work directly with 400 vulnerable households (about 2,000 people) in four villages of Atulia union of Shyamnagar upazila, Satkhira district, in the Southwestern coastal area of Bangladesh. The upazila is one of the most vulnerable coastal areas of Bangladesh due to a high levels of poverty and close proximity to water. A significant number of families are either landless or have only a negligible amount of cultivable land. In almost all cases, housing is very congested.

The project area is agriculture-dependent. Rice cultivation and aquaculture/trading are two main areas on which most of the local people are depended upon. Although women are mostly housewives, in some areas they are also involved in agriculture, aquaculture (collection of shrimp juvenile/post larvae and crab collection, sorting and processing of fish), day labour, and homestead gardening. Almost 73% of the people depended upon loan from various sources. More than 56% of the people of this area are food deficit for 2-6 months a year.

Saline water has already penetrated about 100 km inland through coastal rivers. The total saline-affected area has increased from 125,000 ha (2000) to 131,000 ha (2009) in Satkhira. Cyclone Aila (2009) devastated infrastructure and food production in the target areas, bringing with it increased salinity. Similar pressures from climate change are expected to bring a shift from freshwater to saltwater species and a decrease in freshwater vegetation, along with increased opportunities to adopt saltwater aquaculture due to higher water levels and temperature regimes.

This project seeks to capitalize on these changes in local ecosystems and biodiversity by working directly with crab and shrimp farmers and collectors. Communities will be trained to understand the potential effects of climate change, and how both sustainable aquaculture and ecosystem restoration can play a role in adaptation. Income-generating resources, such as training in improved farming techniques, will be combined with restoration activities to improve both community and ecosystem resilience to detrimental climate change impacts.

Climate-Related Hazards Addressed: 
Level of Intervention: 
Key Collaborators: 
Primary Beneficiaries: 
Fish Farmers; Rural Families
Implementing Agencies & Partnering Organizations: 
Practical Action
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: 
$49,990
Co-Financing Total: 
Community: $19,645 (in kind); Practical Action: $59,565 (in cash)

Key Results and Outputs

Outcome 1: Improved community and institutional capacity to influence adaptation and biodiversity protection plans

Through training, workshops, surveys, and lesson-sharing sessions, enhance stakeholder understanding of the impacts of climate change, climate variability, and biodiversity conservation (Output 1.1). Train thirty skilled volunteers as ambassadors to climate change adaptation and biodiversity monitoring, including five new women community extension workers (Output 1.2).

Outcome 2: Sustainable aquaculture demonstrated in salinity-affected fish and shrimp farms

Provide training sessions and input support for 80 farmers to conduct adaptive farming, thereby mitigating loss by 30% and increasing household income by 40% (Output 2.1).

Outcome 3: Reduced negative pressure on natural aquatic animals (at least 5 species)

Record last five years of changes in fish farming and/or natural aquatic animals due to salinity intrusion (Output 3.1) and develop a participatory aquatic biodiversity monitoring system for community, NGOs, and government line departments to operate (Output 3.2). Train and provide inputs for 40 families to practice off-farm activities, thereby reducing pressure on natural resources (Output 3.3).

Outcome 4: Improved ecosystem and community resilience through plantings

Establish two community nurseries of suitable plant species (wind-resistant and salinity-tolerant) with women-headed households (Output 4.1). Distribute mangroves and suitable tree saplings to communities, schools, NGOs, and local governments with the goal of rehabilitating mangrove plant species at 2,500 households and institutional premises (Output 4.2).

Outcome 5: Project lessons captured and mainstreamed for upscaling

Document and disseminate project learning through a national/regional conference, media, and knowledge products (Output 5.1).

Monitoring and Evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation for community-based adaptation is a new field, and the CBA project is piloting innovative approaches to evaluating the success of locally-driven adaptation projects, and generating lessons to inform ongoing practice.

Key considerations in M&E for CBA include:

  • Grounding M&E in the local context: M&E for CBA should avoid overly rigid frameworks, recognizing community heterogeneity and maintaining local relevance
  • Capturing global lessons from local projects: CBA projects are highly contextualized, but lessons generated should be relevant to stakeholders globally
  • Incorporation of both quantitative and qualitative indicators: to ground projects in tangible changes that can be objectively evaluated, and to capture lessons and case studies for global dissemination

To these ends, the CBA project uses three indicator systems: the Vulnerability Reduction Assessment, the Small Grants Programme Impact Assessment System, and the UNDP Climate Change Adaptation Indicator Framework.

The Vulnerability Reduction Assessment (VRA)

The VRA is a question-based approach with the following aims:

  • To make M&E responsive to community priorities
  • To use M&E to make projects more accountable to local priorities
  • To make M&E capture community ideas and local knowledge
  • To gather community-level feedback to guide ongoing project management
  • To generate qualitative information
  • To capture lessons on specific issues within community-based adaptation
  • To generate case studies highlighting adaptation projects

The VRA follows UNDP's Adaptation Policy Framework, and is measured in a series of meetings with local community stakeholders. In these meetings, locally-tailored questions based on standard VRA questions/indicators are posed, and the community assigns a numerical score on a 1-10 scale for each question. Progress is evaluated through changes in scores over the course of implementation, as well as through qualitative data collected in community discussions surrounding the exercise.

UNDP has developed a Users Guide to the VRA (Espanol) (Francais) as a tool to assist practitioners to conceptualize and execute VRA measurements in the context of CBA projects.

The SGP Impact Assessment System (IAS)

The CBA, being a project of the GEF Strategic Priority on Adaptation, aims to increase the resilience of ecosystems and communities to the impacts of climate change, generating global environmental benefits, and increasing their resilience in the face of climate change impacts. To this end, the CBA projects use the SGP's impact assessment system for monitoring achievements in GEF focal areas (focusing primarily on biodiversity and sustainable land management).

The IAS is composed of a number of quantitative indicators which track biophysical ecosystem indicators, as well as policy impact, capacity development and awareness-building.

UNDP Climate Change Adaptation Indicator Framework

CBA projects also track quantitative indicators from UNDP's adaptation indicator framework, corresponding to the thematic area on natural resources management. More information on UNDP's indicator framework can be found on the UNDP climate change adaptation monitoring and evaluation website.

 

This description applies to all projects implemented through UNDP's Community-Based Adaptation programme. Specific details on this project's M&E will be included here as they become available. *

Contacts

Practical Action
Bangladesh Country Office House
UNDP
CBA Project Management Unit