As of March 27, 2013, USAID officially launched a new program called “CREL,” or Climate-Resilient Ecosystems and Livelihoods programme. CREL has an ultimate goal to protect Bangladesh wetlands and forests; USAID wishes to protect Bangladesh wetlands through co-management of them. They will be following through with this plan by co-managing about 25 of a total of 35 of Bangladesh’s wetlands and forests. This program was announced in Dhaka by the Minister of Environment and Forests, Dr. Hasan Mahmud, as well as Deputy Administrator Donald Steinberg from USAID. USAID has made it a point to work with other countries’ governments and locals to address their specific and particular needs, as well as to provide aid more easily (such as through the government). In the past 15 years, USAID has been working to specifically protect Bangladesh wetlands, and more importantly, their natural resources and biodiversity.
This collaborative effort of communities, government, and USAID has been a success; the resources have been managed in a productive way, and the CREL programme has created a new model for Bangladesh to follow, and a model on which they depend. Under the model, individuals in a community can tell the government what they think in regards of managing habitats, and also, communities themselves are recipients of some of the cash that is gathered through tourism based on wetlands and other natural resources. Under the CREL programme, new sources of income will be created for locals, such as handcrafted items, ponds, and weaving, especially for those living in protected areas under USAID (near wetlands or forests). Therefore, income will increase for the locals without needing to harm the environment, and USAID will protect Bangladesh wetlands for generations to come.
The CREL project plans to address four main development issues: First, it will conserve important landmarks within wetlands or forests. For instance, it will preserve the Sundarbans, the last location of the Bangladesh tiger. Second, it will create new opportunities for locals around the protected wetlands or forests, particularly economic opportunities. Third, national policies that deal with resources, forests, and fisheries will be addressed and potentially changed to better protect the environment. Finally, climate change’s effects on the wetlands and forests will be considered in order to better protect the areas.
To successfully achieve these goals, an important part of the CREL programme is to integrate sustainability practices and measures into the communities and landscapes, so that the biodiversity of the areas will not be negatively affected, and so climate change will not matter as much in the following years.
Overall, the CREL program addresses the environment, but it also addresses the locals in order to save them from poverty.
– Corina Balsamo