Char Development and Settlement Project Phase III

Char Development and Settlement Project Phase III
The Char Development and Settlement Project (CDSP), Phase III, was funded by the Governments of Bangladesh and the Netherlands and implemented in the period October 2005 to February 2011. The project was implemented by six government agencies: BWDB as lead agency, MoL, LGED, DPHE, FD and DAE. In addition five local NGOs, coordinated by Brac, were involved in livelihood development activities, complementary and mutually supportive to the program of CDSP III. A Technical Assistance team of Euroconsult Mott MacDonald of the Netherlands and the local consultants Socioconsult and BETS provided technical support and assistance to the implementing agencies and NGOs and monitored the quality of implementation of the project.
CDSP III was mainly implemented in Boyer Char, in Hatiya Upazila of Noakhali district, an area of 6,600 ha with around 10,000 households (50,000 people). The “empolderment” of the area was realized through the construction by BWDB of about 11km of sea dike, 8km marginal dyke, 7km guide dyke, 3 sluices, 2 closures and canal (re-) excavation over 27km. The creation of Jarirdona short cut of 7.5km and Baggardona river re-excavation over 10km considerably improved the drainage situation in the catchment area of this river.
The polder and foreshore area were afforested with 500 ha mangrove and 100 ha foreshore plantation by the Forest Department.
Internal infrastructure such as 73km of rural roads, paved or earthen, 20 multipurpose cyclone shelters, 70 bridges and culverts, a bus stand and 50 community ponds were established by LGED.
For drinking water supply and sanitation under DPHE 600 deep tube wells were sunk and 8,500 sanitary latrines and 20 public toilets constructed.
Suitable agriculture technology was promoted among char settlers by the Department of Agriculture Extension through 576 demonstration plots with 31 varieties for 13 different crops.
Like in previous phases of CDSP the major poverty alleviation strategy of CDSP III concerned the allocation by the Ministry of Land of around 6,000 ha of khas land to 10,000 very poor and vulnerable landless households, significantly broadening their assets base and securing their livelihoods.
Field level institutions like Water Management Organizations, as per national water policy, Farmers Forums, and Social Forestry Groups were established, in order to ensure people’s participation in all stages and activities of the project. Ten Water Management Groups and one Association are working as sustainable institutions for post project operation and maintenance of water management infrastructure.
CDSP III was successful in protecting the area from tidal flooding. In the project area soil salinity and water congestion are no longer considered to be a problem, although saline ground water limits irrigation. This improved physical environment helped in transforming agricultural technology. The monsoon aman paddy remains the main rice crop, and there has been a gradual switch from local to high yielding varieties. Aus paddy, which is more vulnerable to saline flooding, is starting to be grown in most of the areas. Since implementation of the project the number of cattle increased. The chars were originally planted with mangroves, which were gradually encroached before CDSP settlement, but trees have been planted around homesteads and on road-, canal- and embankment sides by FD and through NGOs, which generate supply of timber, fruits and fire wood. Seasonal migration has reduced and growth in agriculture led to reduced poverty in the poorest category, falling from over 90% to 39% and food security has improved remarkably. The period of food shortage has declined from 61% to 52%. An essential achievement of CDSP is the provision of legal and secure land titles to people. With security of land tenure and higher incomes, people have invested in better housing and other assets such as furniture, bicycles, motorcycles and mobile phones. The distance between a household and its water source has become shorter with the increased availability of tube wells, which are now used as source of potable water by all households, after switching from using unhygienic pond water. Use of sanitary latrines is now common in the area. With the establishment of 18 primary schools and 2 madrashas in CDSP cyclone shelters, the proportion of children attending school has risen considerably in Boyer Char.
CDSP III significantly contributed to the empowerment and emancipation of women in the project area. An important contribution is that the land title is provided in the name of both spouses; putting the women’s name first aims to increase their power of ownership. This system may dispossess men who abandon or mistreat their wives. Women’s ownership of land has far-reaching consequences for their lives and well-being. Women’s access to saving schemes and micro-credit loans improved their living standard and nutritional status as well employment opportunities. Women are now enjoying greater economic security. The female members of WMGs are actively participating in the activities of the groups, like preparation of operation and maintenance plans. The level of gender awareness and participation of women has increased in all sectors. These improvements have not only led to a reduction of violence and abandonment, but has visibly improved the status of women and given them confidence to make their voices heard.