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 2010.
“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.
Protest outside the National Press Club in Dhaka. Photo: WDM
WDM accuses the World Bank of being “responsible for funding high carbon projects that have caused climate change and that is also responsible for projects that have led countries like Bangladesh into further debt and poverty”.
WDM and the other protesting organizations insisted that DFID withdraw all conditions on the $94 million grant being offered to Bangladesh to cope with the impact of climate change.
The UK is actually taking this money from Bangladesh’s already allocated aid budget, money that should be spent on vital services such as health, education and clean water, and re-naming it climate finance rather than giving any new money, WDM says.
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.
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 .
Proposed activities in the Action Plan include a water and sanitation programme in climate vulnerable areas, improvements in urban drainage, and installing rainwater harvesting systems in existing and new buildings.
Speaking at the opening of a two-day Bangladesh development meeting on 15 February 2010, 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 $30 billion from 2010 to 2012 at the December 2009 climate change summit in Copenhagen to help least developed countries (LDCs) most vulnerable to climate change, particularly low-lying coastal countries like Bangladesh.
Bangladesh says it is entitled to ask for at least 15 percent of the climate adaptation fund pledged in Copenhagen. It needs an estimated US$ 5 billion over the 5 years for climate change adaptation.
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.
 DFID – Climate Change Programme – Jolobayoo-o-Jibon
 Ministry of Environment and Forests (2009). Bangladesh climate change strategy and action plan 2009. xviii, 76 p. ISBN 984-8574-25-5. Download PDF file.
Source: IRIN, 16 Feb 2010 ; WDM, 15 Feb 2010