Project to monitor environment in Rohingya campsites gets underway

Kamrun Nahar | Published: August 10, 2018 10:14:17 | Updated: August 10, 2018 18:55:24

Rohingya refugees stretch their hands to receive aid distributed by local organisations at Balukhali makeshift refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, September 14, 2017. Reuters/Files

International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) and International Organisation for Migration (IOM) have jointly undertaken an environment monitoring project in Ukhia and Teknaf upazilas of Cox's Bazarr to identify predicated and unanticipated changes to the environment due to the concentration of the Rohingya camps in the areas.

The objective of the project is to contribute to building an evidence base that will inform measures to identify options to prevent further degradation and if possible restore environmental quality in Cox's Bazar within and outside the Rohingya camps, a project-related source said.

The project titled 'Monitoring Environmental Changes in Cox's Bazar following the Rohingya Influx (MECCRI)' will be implemented by a team of renowned national experts under the leadership of the ICCCAD.

Talking to the FE, migration expert and member of the 25-member steering committee Asif Munier said the authority responsible for Rohingya crisis management has so far failed to provide any alternative solution as regards cooking fuel for the commoners.

Therefore, the Rohingyas have been continuously using trees as firewood, he added.

The project will keep watch on five environmental issues-- water quality and availability, land degradation and deforestation, loss of biodiversity and wildlife-human conflicts, indoor air quality and solid waste management.

Both primary and secondary data on these issues will be collected by the project team to assess and report on environmental condition in the cover areas, he added.

Mr Munier said the project has started its activities on a pilot basis for a duration of eight months.

"We will submit the recommendations on some environmental indicators in those areas on a regular basis from the district level administration to the national level authority. There are government's people too in the steering committee," he said.

Project insiders said based on the monitoring data and subsequent assessments by relevant national experts monthly monitoring reports will be published and shared with the government, UN and other partners.

It is anticipated that the project will inform and raise awareness of the government, NGOs and international agencies on potential environmental implications of camp site operations to inform appropriate interventions.

It will also increase awareness among Rohingyas and local host communities on environmental, natural resources management and disaster risk reduction issues.

In addition, it will assist in setting up a longer term environmental monitoring programme, raise capacity of local experts and target community members on monitoring environmental impacts.

The project will be conducted in consultation and coordination with the stakeholders, including government agencies, local and international donor agencies and NGOs working in the areas, community members (both Rohingya camps and local host communities).

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