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Climate change: massive problem for Bangladesh's future PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 17 December 2007

Climate change: massive problem for Bangladesh's futureWorld Bank Vice-president Praful Patel yesterday said the issue of climate change will be mainstreamed into Bangladesh's development agenda while the bank will provide $325 million to Sidr relief and rehabilitation programmes.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Agriculture Adviser CS Karim, before leaving the country last night, Patel said the World Bank (WB) preliminarily estimates that the economy of the country will suffer a dent of $3 billion from the two floods and the cyclone of this year, with oil and commodity price shocks inflicting another $1.6 billion in damages.

Patel added, "In the absence of any domestic price adjustment, rising oil and fertiliser prices are putting an inordinate fiscal burden on this year's budget." He said the caretaker government is also paying close attention to the issue.

"The government alone cannot deal with a problem of such an enormous magnitude," the World Bank VP said appealing to the international community and the Bangladeshi people to help the country out of its economic challenges.

Patel also said climate change is a massive problem for Bangladesh's future which will severely affect the country's development goals.

He said it is imperative to incorporate the issue of climate change into the mainstream development agenda that would see 'climate change adaptation strategy integrated into all policy making and new infrastructural decisions'.

CS Karim said Cyclone Sidr was a wake-up call for Bangladesh for building up its coastal defences and to improve its adaptation strategies for mitigating and adapting to the climate change.

The WB is already working with the government looking into coastal zone management, the area most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The programme includes building an infrastructure which is able to deal with the climate change by design, strengthening the management of the mangrove forest, and building cyclone shelters.

Patel added that the Bali conference proved that climate change is also an economic concern in addition to being an environmental problem, requiring an economic response too.

Asked about his discussion with Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed regarding his concerns on the government's capacity constraint, Patel said it is a joint challenge to overcome the administrative 'slow down'.

He said the private sector and the donors complained about the slow decision making and implementation process in the civil service. But he added that Chief Adviser Fakhruddin informed him about the government's plan to put in place mechanisms to ensure speeding up of the administrative processes.

CS Karim told journalists that the administrative performance of the government this year has been equal to last year's, despite the wide-ranging reforms undertaken by the interim government.

Patel said the WB scaled up its cyclone assistance to $325 million from the initial pledge of $250 million, with another $25 million already requested by him after he had seen firsthand the scale of the damage inflicted by Sidr.

Immediate relief funds will get $100 million, while $125 million will go to supporting medium and long-term managements, as articulated by the chief adviser.

The additional $100 million will be available by April for livelihood restoration, a fund which will be generated jointly by the WB and the newly created Global Facility for Disaster and Recovery.

Patel complimented the government on its disaster preparedness and management during the recent cyclone.

He also met Finance and Planning Adviser M Azizul Islam, senior government officials, development partners, and members of the civil society during his three-day visit.


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