GCA, WaterAid and DSK introduce People’s Adaptation Planning process in low-income communities in Chattogram, to inform World Bank investments

CHATTOGRAM, BANGLADESH 11 June 2024 Latest News on LLA

A locally-led process to support low-income communities in Chattogram to understand climate threats and prioritize solutions through People’s Adaptation Plans has been initiated in Chattogram, the second largest city in Bangladesh, to inform investments by the World Bank’s Chattogram Water Supply and Sanitation Project (CWSIP). This process is facilitated by WaterAid Bangladesh and Dushtha Shasthya Kendra (DSK), with support from the Global Center on Adaptation. 

At a meeting at the Chattogram City Corporation office, key stakeholders, including community representatives, acting Mayor Afroza Zohur, AKM Fazlullah, Managing Director of Chattogram Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (CWASA), Ward Councilors and other civil society representatives from Chattogram commented on the ongoing planning process and its intended outcomes. 

Chattogram’s 1.4 million impoverished citizens currently endure a “poverty penalty” for water, purchasing it from private vendors at rates 10-60 times higher than those paid by citizens supplied by CWASA. The World Bank’s CWSIP aims to address this disparity by extending CWASA’s water distribution networks to 25 of the city’s 435 low-income communities. 

As part of the People’s Adaptation Planning process supported by GCA, local partners WaterAid Bangladesh and DSK will facilitate locally-led climate risk profiling in 125 low-income communities, to identify the most climate-vulnerable. Trained community mobilizers will then conduct more detailed house-to-house “enumerations” in the 25 communities covered by the CWSIP project. This process will draw on the GCA’s guide on locally-led planning in informal settlements, and on WaterAid’s methodology for participatory climate vulnerability risk analysis. The Chattogram University of Engineering and Technology will contribute by developing a scientific climate vulnerability risk analysis to inform community planning. 

Babul Bala, Program Lead, WaterAid presented the proposed planning processes. The GCA’s Adaptation Acceleration Program, which provides technical support to integrate adaptation into the design of development projects by international financial institutions such as the World Bank, was presented by Shahrin Mannan, Senior Program Officer, GCA. Lessons from similar People’s Adaptation Planning processes supported by the GCA in coastal cities in Bangladesh such as Patuakhali, Kuakata, and Burhanuddin were shared by Abu Muzaffar Mahmud, BRAC. 

Acting Mayor Zahur endorsed the proposed planning process and advocated for the inclusion of additional affecting low-income communities, such as drainage and solid waste management. She highlighted four wards along Chattogram's coast as particularly climate vulnerable and called for active involvement of Ward Councilors in the planning process. 

CWASA Managing Director Fazlullah emphasized the increasing salinity of the Karnafuli and Halda Rivers, once the main sources of fresh water for the city, due to climate change impacts. He stressed the importance of specificity and practicality in the locally-led plans to ensure their implementability by CWSIP. 

Shoma Das, a representative from a low-income community along the Karnafuli River, noted the compounded challenges her community faces, including the inability to use saline river water and increased flooding due to higher tides and heavier rains. 

Arif Ahamed, Senior Water Supply and Sanitation Specialist at the World Bank, advocated for reduced water tariffs for low-income communities and the provision of water services to informal settlements on both private and public land. He highlighted the current limitations on public service provision to informal settlements on public land in Bangladesh due to higher eviction risks.