ADB, Partners to Help Protect Rural Bangladesh from Climate Impacts

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and partners will fund infrastructure upgrades to cushion vulnerable rural communities in Bangladesh from the worsening impacts of climate change.

“Rural coastal districts in Bangladesh are among the most exposed to increasingly severe cyclones, floods, and rising sea levels linked to climate change,” said Rezaul Khan, ADB team leader of the project. “Financing climate-resilient roads and bridges, market improvements, and cyclone shelters will help protect the livelihoods of these communities where poverty levels are above the national average.”

Bangladesh, with frequent cyclones and an exposed, low-lying delta, is already feeling the impact of climate fluctuations. Extreme events are expected to worsen in coming decades while  the sea level will continue to rise, with projections that an additional 14% of the country may become highly vulnerable to flooding and more than 35 million people in coastal areas could be forced to relocate by 2050. More than 85% of all roads could be inundated over the same period, with the sea projected to rise by 7 millimeters a year.

This scenario threatens to undermine the country’s economic progress and will be especially destructive in poor farming communities, where access to markets and basic services will be threatened. The project targets climate resilience improvements in 12 rural coastal districts in the southwestern region of the country; Bagerhat, Barguna, Barisal, Bhola, Gopalganj, Jhalokati, Khulna, Madaripur, Patuakhali, Perojpur, Satkhira, and Shariatpur.

The project will finance upgrades to around 540 kilometers of roads, bridges, culverts , as well as improvements to rural markets, and will build and improve cyclone shelters and animal shelters.

Road upgrading will involve improving existing roads to climate-resilient standards and the widening and rising of embankments, with suitable slope protection against erosion and wave action.   Road safety measures will be incorporated, along with road maintenance plans, and  job opportunities for women. Market improvements will include paved access roads and trading areas devoted to women traders, elevated sheds, water supply systems and drainage and sanitation facilities, with beneficiaries receiving training to operate and maintain facilities.

The project will also help local authorities better understand the effect of climate change on infrastructure.

The project is targeted to run for six years, with an expected completion date of December 2018. ADB will provide a concessional Asian Development Fund loan of $20 million equivalent for the Coastal Climate-Resilient Infrastructure Project. IFAD and KfW will provide parallel cofinancing of $60 million equivalent and $8.8 million equivalent, respectively, with additional support of $30 million from the ADB-administered Strategic Climate Fund and more than $31 million from the Government of Bangladesh.