Arriving in Dhaka the day after a general election embroiled in controversy and starting my time off confined to one neighbourhood because of hartals had me understandably uneasy about my time here at first, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. From the mountains in Bandarban to the rice paddies in Jessore, from a small Hindu village nestled next to a large bird sanctuary in Savar to the rooftop kite-festival in Old Dhaka, I was met with nothing but the most generous hospitality during my time here.
I came to Bangladesh for two and a half months to work with ICCCAD and to learn about how community based climate change adaptation (CBA) work plays out at the national scale. ICCCAD has earned an international reputation as a leader in CBA for a reason; it works coordinates research and programmatic work among action partners around Bangladesh to make sure that CBA meets the needs of the most vulnerable and is replicable. During my time here I’ve been privileged to work with a talented team of young and inspired researchers, programme officers, and interns from both within and outside of Bangladesh who worked tirelessly to ensure that stakeholders around the country were working together.
I regularly hear adaptation professionals stress the importance of not just working on individualised projects and duplicating efforts but moving from projects to planning, that we need to be collaborating on CBA in the mid and long term. As I see it, the team at ICCCAD are the engines behind CBA in Bangladesh, making sure all the other actors are empowered to move smoothly in the same direction. I’m not surprised that Bangladesh has such dedicated and talented young people working for its future; they reflect the dedication to making Bangladeshi communities strong and healthy that I saw in all of my interactions. I am sorry to leave, but I will without a doubt be back. Bhalo theko.