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WB approves $515m for Bangladesh to improve fisheries, roads, forests

WB approves $515m for Bangladesh to improve fisheries, roads, forests

DHAKA: The World Bank (WB) has approved US$515 million for three projects in Bangladesh to improve coastal and marine fisheries, forest management, and rural roads.

These financings will help rural people by reducing poverty and creating new livelihood opportunities, including for local communities in the Cox’s Bazar district hosting Rohingya people who fled violence in Myanmar, said a release here today.

WB Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal Qimiao Fan said these three projects will create opportunities for the rural population and especially help the vulnerable people come out of poverty. “At the same time, they will improve the country’s resilience to climate change,” he added.

The $175 million Sustainable Forests and Livelihoods Project will help improve forest cover through a collaborative forest management approach involving local communities. The project will plant trees in about 79,000 hectares of forest, including a coastal green belt that will also help increase climate change resilience.

WB Senior Natural Resources Management Specialist and Task Team Leader for the project Madhavi Pillai said the project will support increasing income through alternative income generation activities for about 40,000 households in the coastal, hill and central districts of the country.

This will include Cox’s Bazar where nearly one million Rohingya took shelter. The project will particularly help the host communities through its income generation activities, improving the availability of wood for fuel in a sustainable way and reducing human-wild elephant conflict which has affected parts of the district.

The project will develop and implement protected area management plans for about 10 protected forest areas with involvement of community members.

The $240 million Sustainable Coastal and Marine Fisheries Project will help improve fisheries management, expand mari-culture and strengthen aquaculture bio-security and productivity.

In 10 coastal districts, the project will set up community co-management associations with the fishing communities, enabling them to adopt supplementary and alternative livelihoods. It also empowers female workers through alternative livelihoods support, skills development, and nutrition awareness.

World Bank Senior Environment Specialist and Task Team Leader for the project Milen Dyoulgerov said “Fisheries are vital to the country’s food security and the sector employs more than 18 million people. After garments, fishery is the country’s second largest export earning sector.”

“The project will help improve fisheries management systems, infrastructure, and other value chain investments. This will result in better productivity and availability of fish,” he added.

The project will also help expand the current fisher ID card system, which will be linked with the geographic information system platform. It will also improve vessel registration and licensing for fishing. The $100 million additional financing to the Second Rural Transport Improvement Project will help rehabilitate rural roads in 26 districts that were damaged from last year’s heavy rainfall and floods.

The ongoing project has improved and repaired more than 5,000 km rural roads that helped millions of people access markets, hospitals, and schools. The financing will factor in climate-resilience in planning, technical design, implementation and maintenance of the roads.

World Bank Senior Transport Specialist and Task Team Leader for the project Dung Anh Hoang said the financing will continue a road safety program to ensure traffic safety as the rural roads is facing increased motorized traffic.

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