In the beginning was the water plane.
In Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, we boarded a small but hopefully robust plane with six seats only. The engine started, the water plane took off over the very densely populated area of Dhaka. Soon after, we passed over villages, fields and a multitudes of rivers, creeks and wet lands. After 50 minutes we landed in the middle of Kirtankhola river – now finally we understood why we sat in a water plane – and were in the middle of Barisal City.
Roughly 330'000 people live in Barisal. At just one meter above sea level the community is heavily exposed to tropical cyclone winds and to monsoon floods. Over the next decades this risks increases, as urbanization advances and the climate continues to change. To address this challenge, the German Development Bank (KfW), Swiss Re and Barisal City Corporation teamed up to develop an adaptation strategy for Barisal.
According to the Economics of Climate Adaptation (ECA) study, communities in Barisal face annual damages of USD 10 million due to monsoon floods and cyclones. This number is projected to increase significantly by 2050. Especially low-income households and farmers in the western part of the city are frequently threatened. The good news is that with the ECA we found a number of cost-efficient adaptation measures to reduce 60% of the flood and cyclone risk. The measures include the rehabilitation and extension of drainage system as well as the development of flood-resilient buildings.
Inclusiveness is key – prioritise measures using a multi-criteria approach
Adaptation measures are prioritised using a multi-criteria approach during multiple stakeholder workshops. Criteria range from pure economics, such as cost-benefit ratios and implementation risk, to pro-poor focus, health effects, environmental aspects and cultural alignment. These factors are assessed with input from Barisal City Corporation, local and international experts as well as community representatives. The economic dimension is captured in a cost-benefit analysis, evaluating which investments and measures are the most cost-effective to adapt to the expected risk.
It is not just in Barisal that well-targeted investments are available to protect the community. Case studies in more than 20 different regions around the globe, ranging from Maharashtra in India to Florida in the US or northern England, showed that up to 65% of the expected damage from climate change can be averted using cost-effective adaptation measures.
Category: Climate/natural disasters
Location: Barisal, Bangladesh