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MCIC projects will protect environment in Bangladesh and facilitate Sri Lankan refugee return

April 10, 2018

By Mike Ziemerink

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The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund is pleased to announce that the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation (MCIC) is supporting two ongoing projects in Bangladesh and India.

The project in Bangladesh involves training locals in the coastal regions to be more resilient to the effects of climate change.

The project in India will support refugees from the Sri Lankan civil war who have been living in camps in the Tamilnadu region to acquire civil documents and other requirements so they can return home to Sri Lanka.

Fighting the effects of climate change in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has become increasingly vulnerable because of climate change. PWRDF has been working in climate vulnerable areas that have suffered visible effects of natural disasters, targeting 22,000 Bangladeshi farmers in 10 villages threatened by drought, floods and cyclones. MCIC has matched PWRDF’s contributions on a 1:1 basis to support the second year of the three-year project.

The project has already made great progress in the first year thanks to PWRDF and its donors. Two villages have been prepared for mangrove regeneration in order to help protect the shorelines against erosion, flooding and high winds. The communities have been trained on how to protect these plants to ensure their survival and growth.

Bamboo bindings have been set up to redirect water and prevent river erosion and flooding of valuable farm land. Four of these bindings, locally known as chatkas, have been built. With the support of MCIC, PWRDF looks forward to assisting the local partner and communities in building more of these bindings, protecting more communities from flooding and river erosion.

PWRDF partner UBINIG has begun to set up farmers field schools in six villages in climate vulnerable areas. These schools are sharing knowledge about farming in drought and flood prone areas as well as discussing the challenges that climate change is presenting.

The project has a focus on increasing knowledge, as well as the capacity to adapt to climate change in the local communities. Men and women in disaster prone areas have gathered to discuss common concerns. Women have taken up the cause of seed preservation as a way to address the losses associated with natural disasters and extreme weather. These discussions help to share knowledge and identify the gaps as well as plan to take action to protect the communities and make them more aware of the effects of the changing climate.

Facilitating Refugees’ Return to Sri Lanka

The civil war in Sri Lanka raged on for more than a quarter century, displacing tens of thousands of people and causing many Sri Lankan Tamils to seek refuge in India. Since the end of the war in 2009 there are still about 65,000 people living in refugee camps in Tamilnadu, India. PWRDF’s partner on the ground, OfERR (Organization for Eelam Refugee Rehabilitation), has been preparing and assisting the refugees to return home and is grateful to have the assistance of MCIC.

The project seeks to assist 1,500 women and children and 500 men in refugee camps in rural India to secure civil legal documents, such as citizenship certificates. These documents will reduce the vulnerabilities associated with being stateless and make it easier for refugees to return home to Sri Lanka.

Many of the children there were born in the camps to refugee parents. OfERR has been working to obtain Indian birth certificates for these children. The project also involves confirming and obtaining Sri Lankan birth certificates for the parents and other refugees awaiting their return home.

Over 14,000 Sri Lankan refugees living in India have returned to Sri Lanka since the end of civil war in 2009. OfERR has been working closely with the Indian government refugees and other stakeholders to continue to facilitate the process of an informed and considered refugee return.