The Government of Bangladesh has recently signed a $113 million financing agreement with the World Bank to modernize the country’s meteorological and hydrological information system, including weather forecasting, early warning systems, and delivery of weather and climate services.
The Bangladesh Weather and Climate Services Regional Project (BWCSRP) will help strengthen the weather, water, disaster risk and climate information services in Bangladesh. The project will also pilot a community-level early warning system for flash floods, thunderstorms and droughts in four districts -Netrakona, Sunamganj, Rajshahi and Naogaon. The pilots will benefit more than 1 million people.
The project will set up an Agrometeorological Information System portal, agromet information kiosks in 487 Upazilas and agromet display boards at 4,051 Unions. This will enable more than 30,000 farmer households to gain access to weather and water related information, and enable them to make better planning and decisions to deal with climate uncertainties.
“With Bangladesh often exposed to extreme weather events, the lack of reliable forecasting and information on weather can cost lives and hurt the productivity of key sectors, such as agriculture, which contributes to about 16 percent of GDP, and employs 45 percent of the population,” said Qimiao Fan, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal. “By ensuring reliable and systematic weather and climate information, this project will strengthen disaster preparedness, as well as help farmers better adjust to weather variability at the farm level, and thus improve productivity.”
Bangladesh is among the most disaster-prone and climate vulnerable countries in the world, and is frequently hit by floods, drought, and tropical cyclones, with significant losses of lives and substantial costs to the economy. The project will support regional collaboration to share knowledge, leverage economies of scale in forecasting and development of services, and improve preparedness and resilience. The project will help at least five international agencies engaged in regional and global modelling.
“Globally, Bangladesh is well recognized for disaster preparedness,” said Kazi Shofiqul Azam, Secretary-in-Charge, Economic Relations Division, Government of Bangladesh. “Realizing that weather pattern is not restricted to one single country, with this project, we are looking forward to broader collaboration with our neighboring countries, and modernizing the weather and climate monitoring framework to further improve early warning systems at community level.”
Azam and Fan signed the financing agreement on behalf of the Government of Bangladesh and the World Bank, respectively, at the Economic Relations Division.
The zero-interest credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s grant and interest-free credits arm, has a maturity of 38 years, including a 6-year grace period; and carries a service charge of 0.75 percent.
The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh following its independence. Since then the World Bank has committed more than $24 billion in grants and interest-free credits to Bangladesh. In recent years, Bangladesh has been the largest recipient of the World Bank’s interest-free credits.