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25 Feb 2015 | Himalica

Pilot project launched in Bangladesh

The Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs (MOCHTA) of Bangladesh and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) launched a pilot project under Rural Livelihoods and Climate Change Adaptation in the Himalayas (Himalica) Initiative on 1 January 2015.

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The pilot will be implemented in Bandarban District by the Bandarban Hill District Council (BHDC), and the collaboration will primarily focus on developing tourism in the Chittagong Hill Tracts with a strategic approach, building on the Himalica expertise gained from earlier activities in other regional member countries. Without strategic ecotourism planning tools, tourism development could have adverse effects and damage the very resources on which it is based.

With local tourism management delegated to district level, providing support to the BHDC in the development of tourism management would enhance sustainability. The first objective of the joint collaboration between Himalica, MOCHTA, and the BHDC is to develop a Tourism Destination Management Strategy which will consider important elements of responsible tourism that would spread economic benefits, among others. The second objective is to enhance tourism development in Ruma through increased community engagement and attention for environmental conservation.

A seminar chaired by His Excellency Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing (MP), Honorable State Minister of MOCHTA, discussed several topical issues within the pilot framework. The MOCHTA Secretary and ICIMOD Board Member, Mr Naba Bikram Kishore Tripura, the BHDC Chairman, Mr Kyaw Shwe Hla, and ICIMOD staff contributed to the discussions. This was followed by an evening celebration in Ruma with a lively stage show of traditional songs and dances.

Speaking at the launch, the ICIMOD Director General, Dr David Molden, emphasized that the promotion of sustainable development and livelihoods is important as large population groups are dependent on land resources. He also stressed the significance of the ‘off-farm’ aspects of rural livelihoods, for example the goods and services that households could potentially supply to the tourism value chain.

ICIMOD’s Livelihoods Theme Leader and country focal person for Bangladesh, Dr Golam Rashul, added that it was important for the participants to remember that ICIMOD is not a donor agency, nor an INGO, but a regional intergovernmental learning and knowledge sharing centre created by the eight member countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan. He explained that ICIMOD works to develop an economically and environmentally sound mountain ecosystem to improve the living standards of mountain populations and to sustain vital ecosystem services for the billions of people living downstream.

MOCHTA also facilitated the setting up of the Himalica Pilot Project Management Unit within the BHDC that will manage the pilot implementation in Ruma sub-district of Bandarban.

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