The government on Monday signed two agreements with the World Bank to improve the forest cover in coastal, hill and central districts, including Cox’s Bazar, and provide education to Rohingya children and youth.
Under the agreements, the World Bank will provide $200 million to Bangladesh, says a WB press release.
Economic Relations Division (ERD) secretary Monowar Ahmed and WB country director Qimiao Fan signed the agreements on behalf of their respective sides in Dhaka.
“These financing with help the government improve resilience and livelihoods of the host community as well as address the learning and psycho-social needs of Rohingya children and adolescents,” said Qimiao Fan, World Bank country director Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal.
A total of $175 million will be spent for the implementation of Sustainable Forests and Livelihoods Project. Trees will be planted in about 79,000 hectares of forest through a collaborative forest management system.
The proportion to land under forests is only 11 per cent in Bangladesh which is significantly lower than the Asian average of 26 per cent.
By increasing forest cover, the project will help the country become more climate resilient. It will also help about 40,000 poor, local households earn more money through alternative income generation activities.
The sudden influx of over 725,000 Rohingya to Cox’s Bazar caused the loss of nearly 13,000 hectares of forest. The project will restore trees in 19,925 hectare of land in Cox’s Bazar. It will also help the host communities through income generation activities, improving availability of wood for fuel in a sustainable way and reducing human-wild elephant conflict, which has increased due to loss of habitat.
The local people, many of whom are poor, welcomed the displaced Rohingya and shared food and resources, said World Bank country director adding the needs of both the Rohingya and the host community are huge.
The $25 million additional financing to the existing Reaching Out of School Children Project II (ROSC II), also signed, will help about 350,000 Rohingya children and adolescents get basic education and psychosocial support.
The grant will help recruit and train about 2,000 teachers and instructors. More than half of the teachers will be female, who will be trained to help girls manage safety concerns and if needed, guide them to safe locations.
The preparation of text books and learning materials will adhere to the government’s Learning Competency Framework.
The existing project is also being extended for two years, which will bring poor children from the host community in the area back to school in Cox’s Bazar, which has the lowest net education enrollment rate in the country.
The project extension will provide training to more than 17,000 local adolescents and help them with job placement. Since January 2018, the project has provided training, employment and enterprise development support to about 8,000 local adolescents who have dropped out from school.
The credit to the Sustainable Forests & Livelihoods Project from the World Bank’s International Development Association has a 30-year term, including a five-year grace period.
Of the $25 million financing to the ROSC II project, the World Bank will provide $21 million as a grant through the IDA18 Regional Sub-window for Refugees and Host Communities and the Government of Canada will provide a $4 million grant.
The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh following its independence.
The World Bank has since committed more than $30 billion in grants and interest-free credits to the country. Bangladesh currently has the largest IDA programme totaling $11.7 billion.