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ADB to finance $250m for climate resilience in Bangladesh

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved $250 million worth of funding for climate and disaster resilience in Bangladesh. The Government of Bangladesh will contribute $60 million.

  • The ADB will provide $250 million to develop infrastructure and climate resilience in 22 coastal towns in Bangladesh.
  • More than 50% of the country’s population live in areas exposed to high climate risk, highlighting the need for adaptation strategies.
  • The funding will also be directed to helping improve income resilience for women, weeks ahead of the UNFCC’s Gender Action Plan to address gender inequality at COP27.

ADB adds funding for flood resilience to ongoing commitment

ADB’s approval of $250 million to build climate resilience across 22 coastal towns was in response to a request made by the Government in Bangladesh. The project will focus on developing infrastructure, especially taking into account the needs of vulnerable and low-income people affected by coastal flooding.

The funds will be used for training on climate and disaster management for local public works departments. This will include various topics such as socially inclusive responses to climate events, using information technology to develop and disseminate risk mitigation measures, and enhancing public awareness to prepare for future emergencies and crises.    

The bank is involved in separate efforts to fund Bangladesh’s development. It will provide $9.05 billion in loans between 2023 and 2026, to help the country move from least developed country (LDC) status by 2026This represents an 84.7% increase in the amount of loans granted from the prior three-year period.  

Addressing the needs of the most vulnerable in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has been ranked seventh on the list of countries most vulnerable to climate risk, according to non-profit Germanwatch’s 2021 Global Climate Risk Index. It also achieved the same rank in terms of fatalities due to climate risk. A report by UNICEF states that around 12 million children in the country live near river systems where annual flooding is a problem.

More than 50% of the country’s population lives in areas exposed to high climate risk, while a third live in high climate exposure areas. The country’s vulnerability to climate risk seems particularly unfair given its relatively low carbon footprint.

Accounting for just 0.56% of the global greenhouse gas emissions, Bangladesh already has over 10 million climate refugees. Further, loss of land and livelihood due to flooding has resulted in a 50% rise in people living in urban slums, according to US-based non-profit The Climate Reality Project.

Training and education to improve the standing of women

Besides infrastructure, ADB’s funding will also be targeted at helping women cope with climate disasters. Among the low-income and disadvantaged people in Bangladesh, women are particularly vulnerable to climate disasters. According to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, this stems from a lack of awareness of their rights in society, which often leaves them marginalised. 

The problem of gender equality is particularly apparent in female education in Bangladesh. The literacy rate among adult females in the country is below that of men by only 6%. Female participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, however, is between 9 and 13%, according to the International Labour Organisation. Only 20% of instructors in technical institutes are women.

Upcoming COP will be mindful of the GAP

As an outcome of COP26 the UNFCC provided an update on developments on gender and climate change in 2022. Its gender action plan will be a focus of a day-long session at the upcoming COP27. Topics of priority under the GAP will include capacity-building and knowledge management, gender equality and leadership roles for women, and gender-responsive ways implementation of policies.

Climate change-related disasters have exacerbated the plight of the vulnerable in Bangladesh’s coastal towns. The $250 million in funding from the ADB will go beyond providing flood resilience by investing in infrastructure. Providing training targeted to help the most vulnerable find alternate means of livelihood as climate disasters change life circumstances will also help Bangladesh graduate from its least developed status by 2026.

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