NDF - Financing for climate change and development projects

NCF: Empowering young people in slum communities to lead climate adaptation

Photo: Maja Bygvrå, Plan International DK
Volunteer “Climate Champions” working for the community adaptation project meet at a “Girls’ Safe Space” in Dhaka to share information on climate change and practical means to reduce related problems in their communities.

Young “climate champions” recruited from local communities are playing a prominent role in a Nordic Climate Facility project designed to help the residents of slum districts in Dhaka, Bangladesh, adapt to climate-related problems.

“In our communities we face lots of problems due to climate change, including flooding, waterlogging and the scarcity of safe water, which leads to health hazards like waterborne diseases,” explains Farjana Akhter, 18. Akhter is the president of a group of 20 Climate Champions, aged 15–24, enlisted to encourage local residents in the Match Colony and Rail Line Slum districts to get involved in the identification and planning of climate adaptation measures.

“We’ve already been identifying and prioritising locally appropriate model solutions for climate problems based on our existing local practices, indigenous knowledge and capacity,” she says. “Through the project we now aim to test the kinds of practical adaptation solutions we need to upgrade our streets and drainage systems, build up a community-based waste management system, and ensure the availability of safe drinking water.”

Plan International Bangladesh’s project manager Golam Rabbani explains that youth empowerment is high on the agenda in Bangladesh, where the government aims to help young people develop their skills and use their natural vitality to contribute to national development.

“In selecting the project’s 20 volunteer Climate Champions we had a special focus on recruiting women and young people to form a core group of community members, and play a key role in identifying adaptation solutions and spreading awareness of them,” he says.

Half of the climate champions are young women. “We’re particularly trying to create space for women to raise their voices, and empower women as much as possible throughout project work,” adds project officer Abdur Rahman, from the local NGO SEEP.

“In connection with a parallel project we’ve also been developing a ‘Girls’ Safe Space’ to provide a place where children, adolescents and young people can safely spend their leisure time for self-development and recreation,” he says.

This Safe Space was the venue for a three-day workshop in November 2016 where the climate champions and other community representatives met people from project partners including Plan Denmark and Danish engineering specialists Arup. 

The workshop enabled participants to gain a shared understanding of the communities’ current problems and capacities related to climate change, as well as valuable insights into potential solutions that the NCF-backed project could realise.

More information:
NCF Community Driven Climate Adaptation - Making Sustainable Climate Adaptation Solutions Accessible to the Urban Poor [NDF C82 B1]

Text by Fran Weaver.