Civil Society demands decentralized management in water development board : Accountability to the Local government is necessary for sustainable embankment management

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Today 12 January 2020, in a seminar, civil society organizations have urged government to decentralize budgetary resource for sustainable Embankment repair & management in coastal area. They also demand to involve community and local government engagement for effective management & maintenance of embankment that’s already proofed as low cost, save public resources and sustainable in long term perspective.

Seminar was chaired by Dr. Quazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmed, Chairman-PKSF, moderated by M Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Executive Director of COAST Trust and Key note presented by Mr. Arif Dewan from same organization. The seminar also participated by Advocate Faridul Islam Chowdhury, Chairman Kutubdia Upazila, Md. Sahiduddin, Chairman-Barghop Union Kutubdia, Md. Abdur Rouf-Chairman Kasimari Union, Shamnagar Khulna, Mr. Asik Elahi-President Climate Forum, Shamnagar Khulna, Md. Rafiqul Alam and Shamsul Islam from Hatya and Swandip. Apart many CSOs from grassroots and climate network form different parts of coastal areas spoke on the issues.

Presenting the key note, Arif Dewan said that, lack of essential embankment, people lose their livelihood opportunities in coastal areas and migrating to the cities that creating a new type of hazards for the country. He also criticize that despite WDB (Water Development Board) is a responsible authority for constructing coastal embankment but hardly aligned their mandate addressing the climate change needs and protecting coastal people. He demand a decentralized WDB process at least that ensure (i). A reportable relationship with upazila (sub-district) administration for their work and accountability, (ii). Wider and non-partisan community participation process in planning, implementation and maintenance and (iii). Budget should be allocated directly to upazila and even union level. So that local authorities will be capable for instant decision making and implementation. Such a decentralization will also helping for resource mobilization. Arif Dewan has presented two case study on low cost appropriate technology in respect of construction and maintenance of embankement with local resource mobilization and community participation.

Mr. Asik Elahi said that the pattern and cause of embankment damage is different base on the location in coastal belt east and west part and need to take plan and action accordingly. He demand to form “Coastal development Board” for better coordination to construction and maintenance of embankment. Mr. Shahiduddin, Chairman said that embankment design and planning are prepared centrally based on just hydrological study that has hardly relation with local situation. It should be changed, and it has to be prepared with community participation, as community has the appropriate knowledge. It is also been proved that with local resource mobilization local people constructed the embankment with appropriate technology and also with low cost and did it in quickest possible time. Advocate Faridul Islam, the Upazila chairman said that, we experiencing community engaged embankment management and maintenance as very low cost and instant implementation whereas WDB maintenance especially their tender and contracting approach is very complicated and uncertain in respect of timing for implementation. So that WBD shouldn’t keep the maintenance issue to their hand and need to delegate to local government authorities.

Md. Rafiqul Alam opine to WDB weakness of improper maintenance that causes suffering of people due to reducing height of embankment and prolonged water logging in the different part of coastal areas. He urged to address the issue and request to design the embankment participatory and appropriate height following climate change context. Dr. Quazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmed said we have done long term plan despite limited resources, but we have to build this with piecemeal approach from now. If the WDB is accountable to local government then it will also ensure participation of local resources with the people’s idea of appropriate technology. He also supported the formation of Coastal Development Board for better Sectoral coordination.
Please download related paper [Position Paper] [Presentation] [Bangla Press Release] [English Press Release] [short video]
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