Two Dutch ministers yesterday signed an agreement with the Bangladesh government and the World Bank Group to help protect the country against flooding.
The agreement also covers the provision of drinking water, sanitation, land reclamation and port development.
Intensive collaboration will benefit both countries. In the Netherlands, we have had 800 years of experience– Melanie Schultz van Haegen, Dutch minister for infrastructure and the environment
About 80% of Banglashesh is located on the flood plain of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers, and it regularly suffers devastating inundations: those in 1988, 1998 and 2004 covered more than two-thirds of the country.
The collaboration will be part of the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100, which aims to come up with a solution to the problem of flooding while preserving the delta’s biodiversity and contributing to the country’s aim of becoming a mid-income country by 2021.
Melanie Schultz van Haegen, the minister for infrastructure and the environment, said: "At first sight, the water challenges in the Netherlands and Bangladesh are similar: low-lying, densely populated delta countries, with major rivers flowing into the sea, comprehensive migration into the cities, a strategic position vis-Ã -vis the hinterland.
"The scale and the complexity of the issues are, however, not comparable. Nonetheless, more intensive collaboration will benefit both countries. In the Netherlands, we have had 800 years of experience."
Lilianne Ploumen, the foreign minister, said: "A delta plan will work if everyone is involved. In Bangladesh overall involvement is not yet a matter of course. The very poorest, and women in particular, hardly have a say. This really calls for improvement."
Over the past decades, the Bangladesh government has invested more than $10bn to make the country less vulnerable to floods. River dykes have been strengthened, emergency shelters have been constructed for protection from cyclones and warning systems have been set up.
These efforts have significantly reduced the number of casualties as well as damage to the living environment.
The Bangladesh Delta Plan will be a partnership between the Bangladesh government, the Netherlands and the World Bank Group.
Images of Bangladesh from the Government of the Netherlands