H. Urban/Disaster Preparedness: Secondary Town Integrated Flood Protection Project (Bangladesh)

(NB: To read more about gender, urbanization and cities, and CCA, see Sectoral Module I.)

Project Name:Secondary Town Integrated Flood Protection Project Country:Bangladesh Sector(s):UrbanDisaster Prevention/Adaptation

Implementing Organizations:

Bangladesh Water Development Board

Ministry of Water Resources (lead EA), and Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives

Funding Partners:

Budget (US$):
Phase I: 70 million;Phase II: 128.9 million

$80 million ADB loan

$33.8 million Government of Bangladesh

$15.0 million OPEC Fund

$0.1 million beneficiaries

1993–2002 (Phase I);2004–2010 (Phase II)

Phase II: Loan effectiveness: June 2005;Closing date: December 2009 (revised to June 2011)

Project Objectives:

To promote economic growth and reduce poverty in nine towns by providing a flood-free and secure living environment within the framework of integrated flood protection.

Notable Gender-Related Activities and Processes:

  • Consultations with women and men during project preparation
  • Comprehensive sex-disaggregated baseline survey data and database
  • Gender design features included in each project activity
  • Employment targeting (25 percent set by government policy) for poor women in infrastructure construction
  • Wage parity, childcare facilities, and training for women in infrastructure construction and maintenance
  • 100 percent target for women’s employment in tree plantation and routine maintenance
  • Gender-responsive sanitation (e.g., toilet design and location)
  • Resettlement consultations and compensation for women and men, with special attention to female-headed households
  • Gender and development training for local government officials

Notable Gender-Related Results:

  • Local government and management: Town-level GAPs developed;environmental committees and slum improvement works led by women’s groups
  • About 26 percent of the 902,400 person-days of employment in flood protection work went to women (just over the target of 25 percent)
  • Training, guidelines, and monitoring forms provided to contractors on equal wages and appropriate working conditions for women
  • Nine women engineers hired by the project
  • Gender training provided to 150 staff members of the executing agencies
  • Women sanitation motivators and signatories of certificates
  • Displaced female-headed households fairly compensated.


Asian Development Bank. 2002. Technical assistance to the People’s Republic of Bangladesh for preparing the secondary towns integrated flood protection II project. ADB, Manila, the Philippines.

———. 2003a. Project performance audit report on the secondary towns integrated flood protection project (Loan 1202-BAN [sf]) in Bangladesh. ADB, Manila, the Philippines.

———. 2004b. Report and recommendation of the President to the Board of Directors on a proposed loan to the People’s Republic of Bangladesh for secondary towns integrated flood protection project (Phase 2). ADB, Manila, the Philippines.

———. 2010a. Bangladesh: Secondary towns integrated flood protection project phase II—2010. ADB, Manila, the Philippines.

_______. 2010b. Gender Equality Results – Case studies: Bangladesh. ADB, Manila, the Philippines.


———. 2012a. Completion report, Bangladesh: Urban governance and infrastructure improvement (sector) project. ADB, Manila, the Philippines.

Jalal, I. 2012. “ADB – Gender equality and climate change”. Presented at Regional Co-operation Meeting on Gender Equality, 9–10 May 2012, ADB, Manila, the Philippines.

United Nations Development Programme/Global Environment Facility (UNDP/GEF). 2011. Empowering women for coping with climate risks in selected areas of coastal Bangladesh. CBA full proposal. UNDP, New York, and GEF, Washington, DC.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 2013a. Momentum for change: Lighthouse activities. UNFCCC, Bonn.

Imrana Jalal (ijalal@adb.org), Senior Social Development Specialist (Gender)

1. Introduction

In Bangladesh, flooding is a perennial problem that threatens lives, damages basic infrastructure, exacerbates health problems, and destroys people’s assets and sources of livelihood, especially among the poor. Urban areas are more prone to economic and human losses due to their high population density and concentration of industrial and investment sites. After the devastating floods of 1987/88, government and the international community together formulated a comprehensive program, called the Flood Action Plan. ADB supported its implementation with a first project (loan-1202), implemented between 1993 and 2002. Learning from preceding flood protection efforts, ADB recommended an integrated approach, whereby flood protection works would be complemented by municipal drainage and sanitation, potable water supply, and slum improvement. After the first loan, consulted citizens from non-slum and slum areas reported satisfaction with improved flood protection, sanitation and hygiene, and water supply.[53]
The second project was to address flood protection and sanitation needs of six towns: Dinajpur, Habiganj, Khulna, Kurigram, Moulvibazar, and Panchagarh.

2. Summary of Project

General description of proposal preparation

The government of Bangladesh requested ADB to provide Technical Assistance for Project Preparation. ADB provided a $900,000 reimbursable grant to cover the foreign exchange costs of international consultants and equipment. The preparation team also included local consultants. The grant application was prepared by a team of three ADB staff. The grant did not have any expressed gender objectives, but socioeconomic considerations were well taken into consideration. In fact, poverty screening was used to select 6 towns out of the 10 identified as candidates for Project II. The international team included a resettlement and a social development specialist;the local consultants included a gender expert. The ToRs for the preparation team were quite clear on the need for holding participatory workshops, with women representation: at inception, midterm, and a final workshop. The ToRs also specified that project preparation was to be a participatory process, using an “appreciative inquiry approach,”and participatory rapid assessments, involving disadvantaged people including women, so that the project design would meet their needs. The midterm workshop had a whole day dedicated to discuss gender issues and retain those to be included in the GAP.

ToRs of the Project Preparation Technical Assistance team
 (PPTA) were also very clear on gender:

The project activities will have significant gender dimensions. Poverty reduction and improvement in the living standards (urban development, slum and drainage improvement and thereby environment improvement) etc. will require women’s participation as agents and beneficiaries. Detailed gender analysis will be undertaken to identify strategies, mechanisms, and components for addressing gender concerns. The PPTA will identify measures to ensure women’s participation in the design and implementation of the proposed project components, including participation in the work force and post-construction phases (maintenance). Findings from the gender workshop will form the basis for the PPTA to develop the gender action plan and to identify ways and means to enhance the capacity of the female municipality commissioners, and citizens, and ensure their participation in implementing the project.

ToRs for the socioeconomic survey
, carried out by a local institution, were clear on gender: “The data will include income and expenditure, demographic trends, gender issues, health, water and sanitation, child labor, and urban environment. Detailed analysis of the dynamics of poverty, at economic (income) and non-economic (non-income) levels, the causes (real and perceived), manifestations and outcomes of poverty will be conducted.”

Gender integration during project design/formulation and proposal preparation

The project design recognized that “women have a particular stake in initiatives that protect the poor in slums and shantytowns from floods and improve environmental conditions, as women are particularly disadvantaged among the urban poor.”The project included four major components: flood-control protection works, drainage, and basic municipal services, including slum improvements;urban environmental improvements (sanitation);capacity building for municipal agencies;and implementation assistance. The design responded to most of the gender issues identified.

socioeconomic assessment
done as part of the project planning process pointed out that:

  • Women had fewer employment opportunities and lower wages and worked mostly as unskilled laborers. The pay disparity was even greater during floods, when men were offered work below regular rates and women were reduced to work for payments in kind or in exchange for a meal. The project had an employment objective of at least 25 percent (the national quota) on flood protection works and equal pay for equal job.
  • Women had higher work burdens with greater responsibilities for family water, cooking, and hygiene. These tasks were more difficult in the absence of basic amenities and less mobility. Unsanitary conditions also increased illness and the burden of family care. The location of public sanitation facilities were decided by women, and wherever possible in-house toilets were installed.
  • Owing to rural-urban migration, there was an increasing number of women and female-headed households (7–30 percent). Women had greater vulnerability to human trafficking due to increasing migration, uncertainties of shelter, and earnings. The resettlement plan emphasized special compensation and assistance to female-headed households.
  • Priorities were often different for men and women. “Women are particularly concerned about shelter for themselves and their animals, children’s access to schools, and access to medicine and health care, particularly during floods. …Lack of drainage and sewerage leaves inhabitants struggling through stagnant and contaminated water.”Improving the drainage infrastructure and slum upgrading became important project components.
  • Women councilors were found to lack capacity to be heard and to represent the views or their constituents. A new law requiring that women be represented on city councils brought many women into public life. However, few women had skills and experience, their role was unclear, male commissioners proved reluctant to work with them, and women were relegated to marginal functions in council work. Enabling female councilors to be effective members of council became an important project goal.

Land Acquisition and Resettlement Plan
prepared for the project was also gender-sensitive. Surprisingly, sex-disaggregated data were not collected for all important questions. For example, occupations and educational levels were documented by sex, but neither incomes nor relocation preferences. Female-headed households were identified as particularly vulnerable, in particular to find and pay for land where to relocate and to move. The local government agency therefore committed to help these households. The resettlement plan included other gender-sensitive aspects:

  • The formation of a Grievance Redress Committee with women representation
  • Special compensation for the poorest female-headed household (but the form of compensation was not clear)
  • The stipulation that resettlement teams in each town should include women
  • The stipulation that NGOs in charge of monitoring the implementation of the resettlement plan pay special attention to women issues.

The project design may have also benefitted from the Urban Governance and Infrastructure Improvement (sector) project (Loan 1947), another ADB-supported project being prepared at about the same time and implemented between 2003 and 2010. That project emphasized capacity building for municipalities as well as gender-sensitive monitoring and financing of urban investments.


Gender integration during project implementation

The project still is under implementation, but some salient gender results include:

  • Training and outreach
    : The project involved men and women in gender training and made efforts to reach women to improve project effectiveness.
  • Indicators
    : Specific performance criteria for women’s participation were an effective means of ensuring high-level agreement from the outset.
  • Contractor requirements for gender equality in hiring and wages
    : LGED’s policy and guidelines for contractors are increasingly followed.

The following positive gender impacts were reported by the project director:[54]

  • Improved living environment
  • Reduction in waterborne diseases
  • Easier access to clean water
  • Better protection of floods in slum areas.

3. Conclusions


  • Integration of gender by project preparation team
  • Solid gender sensitive baseline socioeconomic survey and resettlement plan
  • Gender workshop during project preparation
  • Sustained commitment to gender of LGED, the main implementation agency
  • Increasing capacity of local women
  • LGED’s Generic Gender Action Plan Models and Guidance: “An effective innovation where there are many participating towns is to develop a generic or guideline gender action plan (GAP) in the project plan and then require each participating town to adapt it to their own circumstances.”
  • Perseverance by LGED and local women and men to achieve gender results
  • Learning across projects.

Lessons learned and missed opportunities

Areas where improvements are needed:

  • Increasing the numbers of women employed in the project’s drainage construction components
  • Addressing the wage discrimination against women, which remains prevalent (even though there are some indications of changed behavior among contractors)
  • Increasing contractor attention to the full set of core labor standards, including working condition and health and safety measures
  • Increasing the support for the development of entrepreneurial skills and effectiveness of use of savings accumulated.

Other questions to assess results include (Source: ADB. 2010b):

  • Have environmental and sanitary improvements resulted in reduced workloads for women? (Reduced hours required for water collection, waste disposal, and care of the sick?) Has overall health improved (and are improvements equally evident for women and girls as for men and boys)?
  • What are the levels of satisfaction of slum and shanty dwellers with new facilities and services (i.e., water supply, lighting, toilets, and waste disposal)? Is this the same for women and men? Do both feel that their voices have been heard in decision-making?
  • Have project initiatives to strengthen the participation and skills of elected women councilors in project management had a broader impact on their involvement in other council activities and committees?
  • Have the project and LGED initiatives to promote equal pay for women been reflected in other council projects and had an impact on other employers in project towns?