A range of vulnerabilities and an unfulfilled potential for development are the main features of the coastal belt in the southeastern part of Bangladesh. On a day-to-day basis, the people living on the coastal belt have to address vulnerabilities as diverse in nature as drainage congestion and the salinity of the soil constraining agricultural yields, cyclones and storms that pose risks to lives and property. Additionally, a heterogeneous social environment with undue influence of well positioned land grabbers can make life and living difficult. In the newly formed areas along the coast of the Bay of Bengal, the government is hardly present, leading to low access to public services. Promoting development in such a situation is a considerable challenge. This book describes and reflects upon how the response to this challenge was given shape in char areas in the southern part of Noakhali district. It is primarily based on the experiences of the Char Development and Settlement Project, a development intervention financed by the Governments of Bangladesh and The Netherlands. The main purpose of the book is to provide lessons that can be applied in any future development programme in tile chars. The book should be of interest to policy planners, soil scientists, students of sociology, anthropology, and NGOs involved in poverty alleviation.
Koen de Wilde studied political and social science at the University of Amsterdam. He has a vast working experience in Bangladesh, in various capacities, spanning a period of more than thirty years. He was involved in the different stages of the Char Development and Settlement Project (CDSP) along the southeastern coast, and in Integrated Coastal Zone Management. Currently, he is Chief Technical Adviser of CDSP III, on a contract with Euroconsult Mott MacDonald.