The project involves technical assistance to the Char Development and Settlement Project Phase IV (CDSP IV). The project aims to improve the socio-economic situation and living conditions of the population in recently emerged chars (newly accreted land) of south-eastern Bangladesh with special reference to the poorest segment of the population. Through the project’s six components, security for people and livelihoods is provided via a climate resilient infrastructure and by providing poor households with a legal title to land.
Euroconsult Mott MacDonald: Team leader, Project Director
Partner(s): Deputy Team Leader, Infrastructure Expert; Deputy Team Leader, NGO and Livelihoods Expert; Land Settlement Adviser; Quality Control - Design Enginee; M&E and Knowledge Management Adviser; Gender and Social Adviser; Agricultural Adviser; Social Forestry Adviser; Financial Adviser
The project aims to support the livelihoods of settlers in recently emerged chars (newly accreted land). They migrated to these new lands for a variety of reasons, the main one being (probably for 80-90% of the households) that people lost their original land and homesteads because of erosion. When a new char becomes fit for cultivation, the river-eroded families from adjacent areas start migrating into the newly formed land for shelter and livelihood. A power broker, in many cases with ancestral links to newly accreted char land, tends to extend support and patronage to settlers. This type of autonomous settlement leads to a situation in which the official process of land settlement cannot start with a clean slate. Settlers are already present in new chars with active control over land before the official process has even started. Powerful people, commonly known as jotdar, and the settlers controlled by them, occupy the land.
The immigration is illegal, because the land is under control of the Forest Department (for a period of 20 years after the start of the first forestation activities). The land is subject to regular flooding. There is no access to drinking water, especially in winter and no system of communication. For food, the settlers are dependent on a low-yielding rice aman crop, some rabi crop and a few fish farmed in ponds or caught in open waters. Some income is derived from tending cattle. People have no official title on the land they occupy. They are vulnerable to a set of risks such as flooding, storms and salinity intrusion.
Description of project
Every year flooding, cyclones and erosion destroy the homes and livelihoods of between 20,000 and 30,000 Bangladeshi families. Many of these uprooted, destitute people are forced to resettle on vast banks of sedimentary material that build up in river deltas and along the coastline. Known as ‘chars’, this marginal land is regularly flooded. Chars are saline, making it difficult to grow crops. Aand they lack basic infrastructure, contributing to ill health, low economic opportunity and lawlessness.
The fourth Char Development and Settlement Project (CDSP-IV) is to continue the work of char development and settlement which has been supported by the Netherlands since the 1980s. The overall objective of the project is to reduce poverty and hunger for people living on newly accreted coastal chars. The project involves six agencies of the Governments of Bangladesh: Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) as the lead agency, Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE), Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), Department of Forestry (DOF) and Ministry of Land (MOL). Through the project’s six components, security for people and livelihoods is provided through climate resilient infrastructure and by providing poor households with a legal title to land.
1. Protection from climate change
CDSP-IV will ensure effective management of water resources, protection against tidal and storm surges, and improved drainage capacity. This is done through water management interventions (construction of embankments, drainage sluices, drainage channels, etc.) and social forestry activities (i.e. establishment of shelter belts to protect chars from storms and cyclones).
2. Climate resilient infrastructure and water supply and sanitation
Core activities include the provision of climate resilient internal infrastructure for communication, markets, and cyclone shelters, but also the provision of a water supply infrastructure and an improved hygienic sanitation.
Rural roads will connect the cluster villages, farms, markets etc. with the feeder roads and embankments. This will improve the communication both inside the area and with the surrounding areas, giving people access to outside markets, protection from extreme weather events and a sustainable solution to the lack of potable water supply.
3. Land settlement and titling
Through this component, 20,000 households will be provided with a secure land title. This will involve a plot-to-plot survey to identify parcels of land and their current occupiers, followed by a six step process for registration of title which is carried out by the land staff of the local administration.
4. Livelihood Support
Services provided by CDSP-IV through the agricultural and social & and livelihood support sub-components which is implemented by four NGOs include:
- supporting the activities of government implementing agencies for CDSP IV, such as for water and sanitation
- promoting human rights & legal awareness, especially for women.
5. Institutional development
CDSP-IV will instigate the formation of community based groups that will closely be involved in planning and implementation of project interventions and in operation and maintenance after the project is completed. These groups give shape to the concept of people’s participation, an important element in the project’s approach.
6. Knowledge Management
CDSP-IV has a number of innovative features, with opportunities of learning by the implementing agencies, the government, the donors, and the international development community in general. Through Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) the project collects and analyses information on results & outcomes and disseminates lessons for integrated coastal zone development and for planning the future development of new chars.
The tasks and activities of the technical assistance team can be grouped under four headings:
Participation in Inter Ministerial Steering Committee, Project Management Committee; support to the Project Coordinating Director; NGO coordination; links with Local Government Institutions (LGIs) and with other development projects; liaison with Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and with IFAD; input in Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) programme.
Inception report; annual work plans and budgets; screening of potential areas for char development, followed by feasibility studies; assistance to integrated coastal development programs.
Project implementation manual as part of inception report; selecting, contracting, supervising NGOs; advice and support to participating agencies in implementing their part of the project interventions according to their respective Development Project Proformas; gender action plans for implementing agencies; training plan, undertaking of training and support to training by agencies and NGOs; institutional development at agency, NGO and field level institutions level; monitoring of quality control of civil works and other interventions financed out of the IFAD loan (following the concerned guidelines); recommendations on withdrawal applications for the IFAD loan; six-monthly project progress reports; assist agencies in account keeping of project expenditures and generate consolidated financial statements.
4. Monitoring, lesson learning and knowledge management:
establishing and maintaining an M&E system for outcome and process monitoring; impact surveys; relevant elements for internalization into six implementing agencies; strategy for dissemination, including website; technical reports and mission reports; progress monitoring.
The overall implementation progress of the project is satisfactory. All six government implementing agencies and four partner NGOs have been implementing project activities. BWDB has completed construction of 21 km of embankment, designed all six (6) sluices and tendered out two sluices (DS1 and DS2) and the closure for Mamur khal. The Forest Department has formed Social Forestry Groups and are producing sapling for mangrove plantations with the assistance of SFGs. DAE has achieved its target of training and field demonstration.
The project is slow progressing in areas like internal infrastructure, water supply and sanitation, which are the most demanded services in the char areas and designed to make the most social and economic impacts of the lives of the poor dwellers. The Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) has the highest allocation of resources (40%) but the progress has been slow because potential contractors either submitted bids about 30% higher than LGED rates or did not participate in bidding process. DPHE has made progress in installation of DTWs but the production and installation of sanitary latrines is very low due to inadequate production capacity of commercial contractors.
The land settlement activity has made satisfactory progress in distribution of land titles and land survey in project chars. The recent decision by the government to hand over Carring char to the Bangladesh Army would affect lives of about 6,000 poor families (est. 30,000 people), project activities and outcomes as well as project financing.
The social and livelihoods support component by the four NGOs has made excellent progress in all activities, especially in organizing the poor women, financial services and primary health care.