National Seminar Charts Course for Infrastructure Development in Char Regions of Bangladesh

Entrepreneurial ecosystems
The recent seminar, “Infrastructure in the Chars: Status Quo, Constraints, and Way Forward” addressed the status, challenges, and potential solutions for infrastructure development in the char areas of Bangladesh. Held at the Grand Ballroom, Hotel Intercontinental, on Wednesday, March 13, 2024, this seminar aimed to foster a dialogue on the critical needs for infrastructure improvement to enhance economic growth in these unique regions.

The Making Markets Work for the Jamuna, Padma, and Teesta Chars (M4C) project has been steadfastly dedicated to improving the lives of char dwellers in the northern regions of Bangladesh for an extended period. Recognising the need for infrastructure development to enhance the economic performance and livelihood sustainability of these remote communities, M4C has engaged in various infrastructure-related initiatives in collaboration with the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED). As a part of its continued advocacy, M4C and the National Char Alliance (NCA) led this pivotal seminar, emphasising the urgency of infrastructure development in the chars, aiming to focus on the needs of char dwellers and driving policy advancements.

Distinguished guests including Mr. Md. Tazul Islam, MP, Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives (LGRD), and Mr. Md. Abdul Wadud, MP, State Minister, Rural Development & Cooperatives Division (RDCD), Ministry of LGRD, graced the event. In their speeches, they emphasised the importance of infrastructure development in the chars, highlighting the government's commitment to addressing the challenges faced by char dwellers. As Mr. Md. Tazul Islam, MP, Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives (LGRD) mentioned, " Bangladesh's economic future is intrinsically linked to the development of the Char regions. Enhancing the transportation infrastructure in these areas will significantly contribute to the nation's economy, including the agricultural sector." Mosammat Hamida Begum Senior Secretary, Rural Development & Cooperatives Division (RDCD), Ministry of LGRD chaired the seminar. Md. Ali Akhtar Hossain, the Chief Engineer of LGED was also present at the event as a distinguished special guest.  The seminar's keynote address was delivered by Dr. Atiur Rahman, Founder President of the National Char Alliance and former Governor of Bangladesh Bank. In his speech, Dr. Rahman underscored the urgent need for strategic planning and collaborative efforts to overcome the infrastructure challenges in the Chars.

The seminar delved into key themes such as assessing the current infrastructure in the Chars, pinpointing development constraints, exploring sustainable solutions, and enhancing stakeholder collaboration. It brought together a diverse group of participants, including representatives from LGED, RDCD, Rural Development Academy (RDA), Bogura, and officials from the M4C project and NCA, as well as infrastructure experts and development practitioners familiar with the chars' unique geography. There was a strong focus on evaluating how existing infrastructure affects char dwellers' lives and on seeking out innovative, char-specific technologies and practices. Moving forward the insights and recommendations generated from the seminar will be integrated into the broader long-term development plan for the chars, serving as a guiding framework for future initiatives aimed at improving infrastructure and enhancing the quality of life for char dwellers. 

M4C is a project mandated by the Embassy of Switzerland in Bangladesh and the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives implemented by Swisscontact and Rural Development Academy, Bogura. 

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Entrepreneurial ecosystems
Making Markets Work for the Jamuna, Padma and Teesta Chars (M4C)
To reduce vulnerability and increase wellbeing of vulnerable and marginalised char dwellers living in the northern char region of Bangladesh. Chars are riverine land, susceptible to erosion and soil deposition, which remain disconnected from mainland either seasonally or throughout the year. Due to this unique geographical positioning,...