Bangladesh: Government against climate aid via World Bank

, by IRIN

DHAKA, 16 February 2010 (IRIN) - Bangladesh has voiced strong opposition to plans by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to provide close to US$100 million in climate change aid - because of its delivery through the World Bank.

“We are strongly against the World Bank’s involvement in handling the climate fund. DFID should give the money straight to the Bangladesh government rather than giving it to the World Bank to disburse it,” Food and Disaster Management Minister Abdur Razzaque told IRIN on 16 February.

“It should be a country-led programme rather than a World Bank-led one,” he said, adding that there were expectations the Bank would attach “unacceptable strings and conditions to its programme”.

His comments come one day after 21 civil society organizations, including campaigners from the European Action Group on Climate Change Bangladesh, the World Development Movement (WDM) and the Jubilee Debt Campaign, protested against the UK decision outside the DFID office in Dhaka.

They insisted that DFID withdraw all conditions on the $94 million grant being offered to Bangladesh to cope with the impact of climate change.

’’DFID should give the money straight to the Bangladesh government rather than giving it to the World Bank to disburse it.’’ But the British High Commission in Dhaka said how the funds were given out was not an issue.

“The issue of involvement of the World Bank in disbursing the money is a minor issue as the government of Bangladesh shall have full control of the fund,” Nazneen Ferdousi, senior press officer for the British High Commission in Dhaka, told IRIN.

The World Bank, as a development partner, would only provide administrative support in handling the funds, she said.

“We don’t see any problem in it,” she said.

When contacted, World Bank officials referred IRIN to DFID.

Within the next 50 years, over 20 million people could be displaced and become “climate change refugees”, if sea and salinity levels rise in Bangladesh, according to the government’s 2009 Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan.

Speaking at the opening of a two-day Bangladesh development meeting on 15 February, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called on donor countries to speed up delivery of promised funds to help mitigate the effects of climate change.

World leaders pledged $30 billion from 2010 to 2012 at the December climate change summit in Copenhagen to help least developed countries (LDCs) most vulnerable to climate change, particularly low-lying coastal countries like Bangladesh. There is a complex range of climate change adaptation funding mechanisms, reviewed by IRIN [1]

Bangladesh says it is entitled to ask for at least 15 percent of the climate adaptation fund pledged in Copenhagen.

Donors in attendance in Dhaka included the USA, European Union, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. The meeting is to review Bangladesh’s development programmes, including plans to reduce poverty, and help donors select areas of cooperation.