WB to help Bangladesh improve climate-smart growth: Georgieva

Chief Executive Officer of the World Bank Kristalina Georgieva visited Ananda School that brings poor out-of-school children back to primary education on July 11, 2019, during her two-day visit to Bangladesh. Photo: Collected

The World Bank (WB) reaffirmed its continued support to Bangladesh to achieve the country's vision of reaching an upper-middle income status through ensuring green growth, as the bank's Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva concluded a two-day visit.

"The World Bank stands by Bangladesh in its journey to an upper-middle income status," she said in a statement today.

As a co-chair of the third executive meeting of the Global Commission on Adaptation that took place in Dhaka on July 10, Georgieva commended Bangladesh for its leading role in adaptation and disaster preparedness, despite being among the countries most vulnerable to climate change.

"The world can learn from Bangladesh's adaptation and strong disaster-coping mechanisms. Their approach is working when we compare recent and past natural disasters: Cyclone Bhola in 1970 killed half a million people while last May Cyclone Fani, of similar strength caused less than 10," Georgieva said.

"But climate change will make the threat of natural disasters more frequent and intense. The World Bank remains committed to help Bangladesh improve resilience and ensure climate-smart growth," the statement read.

The statement said, for Bangladesh, dealing with climate change is a development priority. With active community participation, the country has improved defensive measures, including early warning systems, cyclone shelters that double up as schools, evacuation plans, coastal embankments, reforestation schemes and increased awareness and communication. The WB has supported these measures, which have reduced deaths in major storms.

On Wednesday, Georgieva met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and commended Bangladesh's remarkable progress in economic development and poverty reduction. They discussed the country's development priorities, and how the bank can support them.

Today, she visited a learning centre, known as Ananda School that brings poor out-of-school children back to primary education. The WB is supporting the government project that enrolled about 6,90,000 poor and out-of-school children, half of whom are girls, in Ananda Schools, which in Bengali means "school of joy".

To cover the poorest slum children, the project has been expanded to 11 city corporations. In Cox's Bazar area, the programme is providing learning opportunities to Rohingya children and helping the dropped-out youth from the host community.

"I am most impressed with the resilience of the people of Bangladesh and their determination for a better future for their children," Georgieva said.

This has been the driving force that helped Bangladesh become a low-middle income country from being one of the poorest nations at birth only within four decades, she said.

"The country also showed extreme generosity by providing shelter to about a million Rohingya population," she added.

The WB was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh following its independence. Since then, it has committed over $30 billion, mostly in grants and interest-free credits to Bangladesh, supported by the International Development Association (IDA), the WB's arm for the poorest countries.

Bangladesh currently has the largest IDA programme totaling $12.6 billion.