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Securing a woman's place

The CDSP – now it in its fifth phase – has made enormous strides in protecting the lands and the people who live there.

Project Char development and settlement project (CDSP), Bangladesh

Client Governments of Bangladesh and the Netherlands/IFAD

ExpertiseWater management, forestry, agricultural and social and livelihood development, water and sanitation

The south-eastern coastal areas of Bangladesh are known as the Char lands. It’s a fertile place for farming, but living there can be precarious, especially for women. The CDSP – now it in its fifth phase – has made enormous strides in protecting the lands and the people who live there. Gender equality was a key project goal for CDSP IV, completed in 2018. Ensuring land titles are registered in the names of both spouses, with equal shares, has provided security if a woman is widowed, divorced or abandoned. Encouraging participation in local groups to manage water and forests has been empowering for women, socially and economically, as well as helping to keep their families, crops and communities safe by working to prevent flooding and waterlogging.

CDSP IV trained almost 22,000 people in livestock, poultry, vegetable and fish production, doubling average yields of paddy, increasing cropping intensity from 104% to 130%, and raising egg and milk production 3.5 and 2.7 times respectively. New varieties of paddy, winter (rabi) crops and vegetables have been introduced. The overall number of households reporting food shortages declined by 78 percentage points.


women beneficiaries

Safe water came mostly from tubewells before CDSP IV began and this remains the case. However, the distance travelled to fetch water – usually by women and girls – has been reduced dramatically, from an average of 380m to 60m. Over the lifecycle of the project, the proportion of households with hygienic latrines increased from just 6% to 98%.

Millions of trees have been planted, helping to reduce flooding, salinity and erosion, while mangrove forest management protects the land from storms and cyclones. Tree planting has transformed the landscape, providing shade and shelter for humans and wildlife, and there has been an increase in biodiversity, particularly birds, including several rare and threatened species, such as the Asian Woolyneck and storks.

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