Photo by G.M.B. Akash Bangladesh, Sunamganj Community-based Resource Management Project Women select fish to sell in the market of Gajaria, Bangladesh

Project area. The project will be located in the "haor" (wetland ecosystem) basin in north-east Bangladesh, a region particularly vulnerable to climate change and, because of the physical conditions prevailing there, one of the poorest in the country. The project will be implemented in five districts (Brahmanbaria, Habiganj, Kishorganj, Netrakona and Sunamganj) covering 165 unions (known as "haor unions") in 26 upazilas (subdistricts).  

Target group. The entire population of the haor unions will benefit from infrastructure development - roads and markets. These unions have a population of 3.8 million people (about 688,000 households). Around 100,000 households will also benefit by participating directly in project activities. The project will target women, who are particularly disadvantaged and vulnerable because of the absence of employment opportunities in the haors, channelling significant funds directly to the poorest women via construction contracts for labour contracting societies (LCSs). It will also have specific initiatives targeting market traders, fishers and small producers.  

Project objectives.  The project's goal is to improve the living standards and reduce the vulnerability of haor households. To achieve this, the project will focus on infrastructure investments together with local institutional capacity strengthening for sustainable management.

Project description. In addition to project management, the project will have four components:

  • Communications infrastructure. The project will support the construction of 250 kilometres of upazila and union roads along with bridges and culverts. It will also finance the construction of boat landing stages at 50 locations to facilitate water transport during the flood season.
  • Community infrastructure. To improve access to markets and services in the haor area, the project will finance the construction of 320 kilometres of community (village) roads, 100 rural markets, protection works against wave erosion for 300 villages and 60 markets, and 90 informal market collection points. Roads, wave protection works and collection points will be constructed by LCSs - providing employment for the poorest women.
  • Community resource management. The project will provide support to the existing community fisheries for 300 existing "beel" (pond) user groups previously formed under the Sunamganj Community-based Resource Management Project. In addition, 200 new water bodies will be brought under community management in the other three districts. The project will fund re-excavation of beels and 100 kilometres of canals (to provide drainage and irrigation for crops). This work will be undertaken by LCSs creating over three million person-days of employment.
  • Pro-poor value chains. The project, together with other stakeholders, will form market management committees and develop their capacity to manage markets. It will also develop value chains in agriculture, fisheries and livestock, providing training, demonstrations and support for service-providing enterprises.

IFAD photo by G.M.B. Akash. Bangladesh, Sunamganj Community-based Resource Management Project. A group of fishers in a river in Gajaria, Bangladesh.

Important features. The proposed project is in line with the Government's second revised poverty reduction strategy (National Strategy for Accelerated Poverty Reduction: Step towards change), which also identified the emerging challenge of climate change. The project will contribute to poverty reduction, enabling poor people to become more resilient and therefore less vulnerable to disasters and climate change. The project is also fully in line with IFAD's country strategic opportunities programme for Bangladesh and complements the programmes of other international agencies. It will build on the experience gained from ongoing IFAD-funded projects, in particular the Sunamganj Community-based Resource Management Project. One of its important features is that it will work directly with the Union Parishads, the local government entities.  

Potential cofinanciers and domestic contribution. Cofinancing of 21.4 million euros (equivalent to approximately US$25.0 million) is expected to be mobilized from the Government of Spain. The domestic contribution is estimated at US$27.6 million.

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