A Formula to Secure Bangladesh’s Forests

09 Jun 2015

Photo by UNDP Bangladesh
That the environment is under pressure is not a new story, but a fact that has been witnessed with concern in all parts of the world. What is often forgotten is that humans are deeply dependent on the environment. It supports our very existence. Food, water and the air that we breathe are ‘services’ crucial to our survival - yet the environment continues to be destroyed. In the face of a changing climate and growing natural hazards it is unsurprising that the global community marked the recently passed World Environment Day – 5 June - with a renewed sense of urgency. This year’s theme, “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care”, is timely and as Bangladesh celebrates the day we must look to both establish strong natural resource management practices and engage people as guardians of the environment. One example of this can be found in our own Chittagong Hill Tracts where communities draw on traditional knowledge to sustainably manage natural resources through Village Common Forests (VCFs).  Regrettably, Bangladesh has been experiencing severe deforestation and forest degradation over the past 30 years. A 2011 paper co-authored by Center for International Forestry cited data suggesting 90 percent of Bangladesh’s forest have … Read more

Impermanent Justice: Legal Reform Workshop debates need for permanent prosecution service

29 Apr 2015

To generate productive policy discussion and articulate the legal issues requiring reform, the workshops drew issues to discuss from all segments of society.
With the growth of Government power and increase in law-making and regulation comes a natural rise in litigation. However despite these trends in Bangladesh, the establishment of a permanent prosecution / government pleading service to represent the State in a consistently high quality manner, across all such cases has not been forthcoming. The second Legal Reform Workshop held on 11 April 2015 at the CIRDAP Auditorium in Chameli House, Dhaka on ‘Law Officers of the State and Permanent Prosecution Service’ sought to examine this pressing and topical issue in Bangladesh. The Legal Reform Workshops are a series of structured Workshops organized by Dr. Shahdeen Malik (Advocate and Constitutional expert as well as Director of the School of Law at BRAC University and Honorary Director of the Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs (BILIA)) and the Centre for Rights and Governance with support from UNDP, Bangladesh. The Workshops draw from all segments of society, to generate productive policy discussion and articulate the legal issues requiring reform, whilst also providing the impetus and setting the narrative for a comprehensive legal reform agenda. The first Workshop was held on 21 March 2015 on the topic ‘Legal Education: the Case for Reform.’ Esteemed panelists including Mr. Justice Md. … Read more

Raising young voices

27 Apr 2015

 Young participants asked questions to the mayoral candidates of Dhaka North City Corporation and Chittagong City Corporation on April 15th and 20th, 2015.
Samiha is a student at the Asian University for Women in Chittagong. In the eyes of this young woman, gender-based harassment, so called “eve-teasing”, has become a growing concern for not only students, but women of all ages and all backgrounds in Bangladesh. Women find it difficult to go about their daily lives for fear of the comments and touching they elicit when they try to attend class or do their shopping. This issue was raised at the UNDP-hosted dialogue between young people and mayoral hopefuls In Chittagong, Samiha was encouraged to hear candidates take the issue seriously. Leaving the dialogue Samiha said the event was “promising” as it candidates had demonstrated the “potential of the city” and the mayor to take concrete steps to address issues like eve-teasing and waste management. Stats are often thrown about. 47.6 million Bangladeshis are between 10 and 24 years old (UNFPA 2014).  It’s easy to give these statistics a cursory glance since in the end they’re just numbers. They don’t represent individuals. They don’t tell stories.   It’s harder, however, to ignore the 47.6 million when they start to ask you direct questions. At recent dialogues in Dhaka and Chittagong, young people, drawn from … Read more

Boi-Sa-Bi: A Festival of Spirit and Harmony

16 Apr 2015

Villagers float flowers as part of Phul Bizu Boi-Sa-Bi celebrationsVillagers float flowers as part of Phul Bizu Boi-Sa-Bi celebrations. Photo by - Prasenjit Chakma
When I mention the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), the first thing your mind might turn to are the steep hills, thick jungle and wide rivers that characterise this south eastern corner of Bangladesh. The second is probably the region’s rich ethnic diversity.  CHT is home to eleven different indigenous/tribal groups, in addition to the Bengali community. Each group maintains a unique language, culture, dress and even farming method, differing markedly from the rest of Bangladesh’s population. Within the Hill Tracts many communities follow alternate faiths to Islam, with many indigenous/tribal groups identifying as Buddhist, Hindu and Christian. Further the CHT traditional governance system, based on customary laws and lead by three Rajas, operates side-by-side to local government structures. Indeed, the CHT region is a mosaic of diversity and as a proud Chakma woman I view this as a strength to be celebrated. One joyous display of this diversity is the recently concluded Boi-Sa-Bi festival - the largest and most significant indigenous/tribal cultural event on the CHT calendar. For three days, the region becomes an explosion of colour and celebration, commencing on the 12 April and culminating on Pahela Baishakh. It is an opportunity to mark the year past, and to welcome … Read more

Switch on to turn off: Your role in energy access.

05 Apr 2015

Put your hand up if you’ve experienced a black out in Bangladesh? What’s that, everyone has? It is no surprise to anyone living in Bangladesh that power shortages are a part of life. As the temperature rises, power outages will begin to occur more frequently. Air conditioning units start running, fridges have to work a little harder, fans are on almost 24 hours a day, and water for agricultural irrigation kicks into gear. As much as black outs are frustrating for those with electricity connections, life without energy access is much more challenging. Current energy demand (8,500 MW) far outstrips existing production (peak 7500 MW), with this gap showing no clear sign of decreasing, as the country grows and more people connect to the grid. Outside of the inconvenience, why is this important? It is important for a number of reasons. Access to energy across Bangladesh is limited. With an unstable national supply and over 10.2 million households living in rural areas with no access at all, energy inequality represents a significant issue. Energy plays an important role in human development. UNDP believes that access to energy can open windows for everyone to enjoy the fruits of development and their fundamental human rights. … Read more