DeltaCap: Contributing to Bangladesh’s capacity to deliver its Delta Plan

DeltaCap: Contributing to Bangladesh’s capacity to deliver its Delta Plan

Written by ir. CTHM (Catharien) Terwisscha van Scheltinga, on 17 November 2016

(Originally appeared in Wageningen University & Research  web site)

DeltaCap, a NICHE project announced over the summer, will help develop the necessary capacity and skills for Bangladesh to implement its Delta Plan 2100. The current project inception phase has included a workshop, recently held in Dhaka, to determine priority training and knowledge needs, leading up to the full project launch in January, 2017.

Bangladesh’s low-lying coastal regions often suffer from monsoon floods and tropical cyclones. As well as bringing destruction to property and posing a risk to life, these floods cause health problems through disease transmission and contaminated drinking water. Combined with population growth climate change is likely to make the situation worse with some estimates suggesting that by 2050 an extra 15% of the country could be vulnerable to flooding, impacting more than 30 million people in the coastal districts.

The country’s Delta Plan 2100, developed with the assistance of the Government of the Netherlands, grew from a recognition on the part of the Government of Bangladesh of the need for an integrated response to current and future threats; a response which prioritizes strategic and coordinated planning. It also proposes decentralisation of water management and the regionalisation of water related policies.

DeltaCap will help the Delta Plan to meet the demand for skilled water professionals who are able to respond to the complexity of current water challenges, developing capacity through an emphasis on training and knowledge transference, as well as increasing transparency of efforts, making longer term plans and implementing them while involving various stakeholders at multiple levels.

Starting with the needs of stakeholders

Some members of the DeltaCAP group

As one of the central pillars of DeltaCap is strong stakeholder engagement, the project team met with water professionals, training and education providers, as well as beneficiaries, in Dhaka, 23-26 October. During the ensuing workshops, participants were able to collectively outline needs and make suggestions for how best to roll out the project, based on current scenarios and challenges.

Some of the agreed capacity needs to be developed through training include; developing awareness about, and use of, longer term planning tools – including integrated assessments and scenario building; linking planning and maintenance at national level with that at local/district level; development of integrated, pro-poor, ecosystem based and gender-sensitive solutions; use of participatory water management techniques; integrated and inter-sectoral assessments for longer term planning, vulnerability and risk assessment; policy development for transboundary water management and diplomacy; and identification/integration of multi-benefits to end-users.

The project focusses mainly on developing and facilitating the training activities, as well as creating the Sustainable Delta Management Centre, a knowledge sharing centre for lectures, practical exercises and the assessment and collation of field work. Additionally, the project may also conduct feasibility studies to test the likely practical implementations of intended solutions. All this, in order to support implementation efforts once the Bangladesh Delta Plan is approved.

Built with the ambition to scale up and replicate across other deltas

Working together with the Delta Alliance, a knowledge-driven network of delta professionals, through the Bangladesh Wing, will confer two principle advantages for DeltaCap. Firstly, the organization will help with the coordination of the numerous Bangladeshi entities working on delta management issues both as providers, as well as being recipients of the new knowledge. Secondly, sustainable delta management activities need scaling up both at national and international scale. Nationally, the project can be scaled up by further involving Delta Alliance Bangladesh Wing partners. Internationally the project approach to capacity development through needs based training and knowledge, can be replicated in other deltas. The topics and themes covered can then be tailored to the specific needs of the delta region.

DeltaCap is a Netherlands Initiative for Capacity development in Higher Education (NICHE) project, with Nuffic support of 1 million Euros. The project is jointly led by UNESCO-IHE and Wageningen University and Research, and implemented in close cooperation with the Government of Bangladesh and various other partners. It will be launched in January, and then run until August 2020.

DeltaCap Inception Workshop – 16 January 2017

DeltaCap Inception Workshop – 16 January 2017

 

Venue: Council Building, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, Dhaka, Bangladesh

On 16th of January 2017, DeltaCap will hold the project inception workshop. The event will be participated by a broad range of professional, academic and community stakeholders related to the Bangladesh Delta Plan. The goals of this event are to share information and receive feedback on the background, objective, setup and outline of the planned activities under the DeltaCap project.

Programme:

9.30 – Registration

Inaugural Session:

Will be chaired by Mr. Md. Jahangir Kabir, Director General, BWDB

10.00 – Welcome Address by Director, IWFM, BUET
10.05 – Overview of DeltaCap project by Prof. Chris Zevenbergen, Lead, DeltaCap Project
10.30 – Inaugural Address by Vice Chancellor, BUET
10.40 – Session Closing Address by Chairperson, DG, BWDB
10.50 – Vote of Thanks by Head, WRE, BUET
11.00 – Tea

Technical Session:

Will be chaired by Mr. Abu Saleh Khan, Deputy Executive Director (Opn), IWM

11.15 – Sustainable Delta Management Centre by Prof. Shah Alam Khan, IWFM, BUET
11.30 – Measuring impact DeltaCap: demonstration M&E tool by Mr. Hasib Ahsan, mPower
11.45 – Development of training by Ms. Catharien Terwisscha van Scheltinga, Wageningen UR
12.00 – Group discussions
12.45 – Plenary reporting and discussion
13.30 – Closure by Chairperson, DED (Opn), IWM
13.40 – Lunch

DELTA PLANNING: 60 YEARS OF SHARED WATER SOLUTIONS

DELTA PLANNING: 60 YEARS OF SHARED WATER SOLUTIONS

Written by Alan Hodgson & Chris Zevenbergen, on 3 January 2017
(Originally appeared in UNESCO-IHE web site)

Bangladesh and the Netherlands have a long history of cooperation over water issues. Both countries face similar challenges with low lying deltas vulnerable to flooding which affects densely populated areas. However, alongside these similarities, are different approaches to solutions. The Netherlands has typically focussed on prevention using large infrastructure solutions, while Bangladesh has more prominently relied on preparedness. Consequently both countries have much to learn from each other and have been doing so over the last decades, with UNESCO-IHE at the table through-out.

THE MULTIPLE CHALLENGES OF A COUNTRY THAT IS A DELTA, ALONG A VULNERABLE COASTAL AREA

As the largest delta in the world and with a population well over 150 million, Bangladesh is a country that faces formidable challenges. Its low-lying coastal regions often experience tropical cyclones and monsoon flooding (affecting up to 25% of the country annually) bringing widespread devastation, including a risk to life, destruction to property and causing health problems through the transmission of disease and contaminated drinking water. At the same time its rivers and floodplains, which make up 80% of the country, support life, livelihoods and the economy. Climate change, combined with rapid population growth, is likely to make the situation worse. Some estimates suggest that by 2050 an extra 15% of the country could be vulnerable to flooding, impacting more than 30 million people in the coastal districts. In addition to regularly bearing the brunt of natural hazards, according to the UN in excess of 63 million people live below the poverty line, with the ensuing impact on health and education levels.

Despite these challenges, Bangladesh is striving to attain middle-income status by 2021, reducing poverty levels across the board while increasing livelihoods and achieving sustainable growth. Recent years have seen rapid industrialization and a spike in rural to urban migration. It has been widely acknowledged that the country has made remarkable progress, with its economic model delivering growth at around 6% per year and reducing extreme poverty from the 50% levels of 2000, to around 30% in 2010 (UNDP).

Bangladesh met many of its Millennium Development Goal targets, increasing primary school enrolment, gender parity in schools and food security, while lowering infant and maternal mortality. A large part of the future challenge will be to ensure that economic and social development does not come at the cost of environmental considerations, including effective water management and the reduction of water related risks.

MAINTAINING DEVELOPMENT RELEVANCE

From the beginning, UNESCO-IHE’s capacity building work with Bangladesh has often been conducted through the framework of agreements reached between the
 governments of the Netherlands and Bangladesh. A recently published overview of this decades-long cooperation clustered the resulting initiatives around five thematic areas: water resource management, coastal zone management, socio-economic development, food security and land reclamation. Throughout this period UNESCO-IHE has had to adapt to the changing development landscape in order to continue to maintain its development relevance and continue to offer added value.

Initial water management interventions in Bangladesh were often characterised as being of the technical, stand-alone variety. For example the 1964 Master Plan created large scale drainage and/or irrigation infrastructure. However, subsequently it became clear that these predominantly engineering-led solutions often neglected to adequately consider their impact on industrial and domestic water use, fishing and bio-diversity, amongst other concerns. A consequence was a growing understanding amongst development actors, including UNESCO-IHE, of the need for an integrated approach to the cultivation of land, water and human potential. Additionally, it was understood that to truly maximize impact, initiatives should be participatory, involving key stakeholders in decision making.

Embracing these new paradigms UNESCO-IHE and its alumni have contributed, down the years, to efforts that build on improvements to the functioning of the surrounding water systems, policies and practices, with varying degrees of success. Early initiatives such as The Delta Development Project (1976) sought to increase benefits across a number of inter-related spheres including flood resilience, poverty alleviation, agricultural productivity, livelihoods and social services. The decades since have also seen many initiatives seeking an integrated balance between socio/economic development and water-related technological advance such as the Land Reclamation Projects (1977) the Compartmentalization Project (1990), the Char Development and Settlement Project-I (CDSP-I 1994/1999), followed by CDSP-II, CDSP-III and CDSP-IV, the Dutch funded Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan (2005) and the recently closed Water Management Improvement Project (2007). Despite successes, water management efforts were often still implemented in relative isolation, sometimes also lacking the necessary broad stakeholder support to create longer term traction.

TOWARDS AN INTEGRATED, LONG TERM WATER MANAGEMENT VISION FOR BANGLADESH

Drawing on the collective experience of both the successes and failings of water management efforts, in order to respond to current and future water related threats, the Bangladesh Government has set out Delta Plan 2100. This water safety and food security strategic vision for Bangladesh, developed since its inauguration in 2014 with a consortium of Bangladeshi and Dutch experts including UNESCO-IHE, proposes long-term coordinated planning. The plan, which is led by the Bangladesh General Economics Division of the Ministry of Planning, will enable adaptive water governance where management and water related policies can be decentralized, while still allowing the relevant sectors to cooperate. Operating under this overarching strategy, encompassing 19 issues arranged into 8 operational blocks, projects will be aligned in such a way as to function as pathways towards the vision and desirable impact.

The Delta Plan is designed to deliver holistic impact including natural resource conservation (especially of the river floodplains and coastal ecosystems), good governance (through a focus on strengthening institutional arrangements) and capacity building, increasing equality and justice across sectors. The plan, which is exploring sustainable funding mechanisms with provision from the Dutch Government as well as the World Bank, also crucially contributes to Bangladesh’s economic growth and poverty alleviation ambitions by providing access for Dutch business to the Bangladesh market.

DELTACAP: UNESCO-IHE’S CONTRIBUTION TO DEVELOPING THE WATER PROFESSIONALS OF THE FUTURE

For the Delta Plan to succeed requires skilled and experienced water professionals able to understand and respond to the complexity of current and future water-related challenges. Deltacap (2017-2020) is a project which has just launched, jointly led by UNESCO-IHE and Wageningen University and Research and implemented in close cooperation with the Government of Bangladesh. It is set up to develop water management skills and capacity, through training and knowledge transfer opportunities.

UNESCO-IHE will be involved in enabling an understanding about, and use of, longer term planning tools. These include: integrated assessments and scenario building; coordination of planning and maintenance at national level with that at local/district level; development of integrated, pro-poor, ecosystem based and gender-sensitive solutions; use of participatory water management techniques; integrated and inter-sectoral assessments for longer term planning, vulnerability and risk assessment; policy development for transboundary water management and diplomacy; and identification/integration of multi-benefits to end-users. The Institute will contribute to the development and facilitation of training activities as well as the creation of a Sustainable Delta Management Centre, a knowledge sharing hub for lectures, practical exercises as well as the collation and assessment of field work. It will also coordinate capacity development initiatives in Bangladesh.

Working through the Bangladesh Wing of the Delta Alliance, a knowledge-driven network of delta professionals, will give DeltaCap two principle advantages. Firstly, it will help with the coordination of the numerous Bangladeshi delta management entities which function both as providers and recipients of new knowledge. Secondly, as sustainable delta management activities need scaling up nationally, the project can benefit from the support of the Delta Alliance through Bangladesh Wing partners. Internationally it can also be replicated across other deltas, tailored to specific regional needs.