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$200m WB financing for Rohingya, forest projects

FE Report | November 06, 2018 00:00:00

The World Bank (WB) will provide a total of US$200 million for two projects including improvement of forest cover in Bangladesh's coastal, hill and central districts, including Cox's Bazar.

The other project is aimed helping Bangladesh provide education to Rohingya children and youths who have fled violence in Myanmar.

The government and the WB signed the two financing agreements on Monday at the Economic Relations Division at the city's Agargaon, said a WB press release.

Of them, under the $175 million Sustainable Forests & Livelihoods Project trees will be planted on about 79,000 hectares of forest as part of a collaborative forest management system.

The proportion of land under forests is only 11 per cent in Bangladesh which is significantly lower than the Asian average of 26 per cent. Through increasing the 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, according to the WB release.

The sudden influx of over 725,000 Rohingya to Cox's Bazar caused the loss of nearly 13,000 hectares of forest.

The project would restore trees on 19,925 hectares of land in Cox's Bazar, it mentioned.

The project 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.

"Despite its own challenges, Bangladesh generously provided shelter to about a million Rohingya refugees. The local people, many of whom are poor, welcomed the displaced Rohingya and shared food and resources. But the needs of both the Rohingya and the host community are huge," the release said quoting Mr. Qimiao Fan.

"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," the WB country director was also quoted as saying.

On the other hand, the WB will also provide an additional $25 million financing to the existing Reaching Out of School Children Project II (ROSC II) for helping 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 address 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, said the WB release.

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, it said.

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, according to it.

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 $4.0 million grant, it added.

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 program totaling $11.7 billion.

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