More mangroves, less smoke: Enhancing resilience of coastal ecosystems and communities in Cox’s Bazar

Location: Bangkok, Thailand. 2nd Feb 2017

Bangladesh is situated in one of the largest river deltas in the world and is highly vulnerable to the steadily increasing effects of climate change. Low-lying coastal areas like Cox’s Bazar, in particular, are most at risk, due to tropical cyclones and sea level rise which causes erosion, saltwater intrusion, flooding and other issues.

Implemented since May 2016 by local NGO Community Development Centre (CODEC), the “Restoration of coastal vegetation in Hnila Union Teknaf Peninsula” project aims to enhance the resilience of coastal ecosystems in the Teknaf peninsula of Cox’s Bazar, and the communities which rely on them, in the face of climate change.

Besides restoring coastal vegetation by involving communities in the planting of homestead vegetation such as fruit bearing trees, the MFF Small Grant Facility project also aims to reduce the community’s reliance on fuel wood for cooking and improve access to training on bamboo production as a livelihood activity.

CODEC has since distributed approximately 9,000 indigenous saplings to over 400 community members for planting in households and institutional plantations. In addition, students and staff of Nheela High School were also provided with saplings to be planted at the school.

The project has also installed over 150 Improved Cookstoves (ICSs) in 150 households. These ICSs, also known locally as Bhandhu Chula, are designed to reduce fuel consumption and to curb smoke emissions from open fires inside dwellings. Before being introduced to the ICS, most of the women had to use traditional cook stoves, which emit large amounts of smoke.

Mrs Beauty Das is using improved cooking stove IUCNEnamul Mazid Khan Siddique

Mrs Beauty Das using improved cooking stove, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh © Enamul Mazid Khan Siddique/IUCN


“I am very happy to use the Bhandhu Chula in my kitchen. It does not produce any smoke and there are no blackish layers of carbon in my cooking pots. I also no longer get symptoms of respiratory diseases,” said mother of two, Mrs. Beauty Das.

This initiative also contributes to protecting mangrove plants in the area – preventing them from being cut down – as families no longer have to depend on them for fuel wood.

Before the project was implemented, studies revealed that only 4% of households in the area were familiar with using the improved cook stove. Thanks to the project, over 41% of families in the area are now using the Bhandhu Chula. There is also ample opportunity to provide the Bhandu Chula to more families.

With the new cookstoves, women now need 40% less wood, meaning they don’t have to spend as much money as before. As a result, each family saves around 1,500 to 2,000 Taka (approx. US$ 19 -- 25) per month.

“I save about 50 Taka (approx. US$ 0.60) per day, and I use this money to buy more food and educational material for my children. Now that I spend less time cooking and getting fuel wood, I can also spend more time with my family,” added Mrs. Das.

In the coming months, CODEC plans to provide a “Bamboo Production and Bamboo Clamp Management Training” to over 25 beneficiaries. The training will be provided to community members who are involved in bamboo-related livelihood activities, such as fishing and basket weaving.  CODEC will also be providing another 3,468 indigenous homestead vegetation saplings and 100 ICSs to the beneficiaries. 

Mrs Beauty Das is using improved cooking stove IUCNEnamul Mazid Khan Siddique

Mrs Beauty Das using improved cooking stove in Cox's Bazar, ... © Enamul Mazid Khan Siddique/IUCN

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