Brief description of the Activity:
Ecosystem Conservation through Livelihood Improvement and Forest Enhancement (ECO LIFE) is a USAID-supported project in Bangladesh under its Local Works Program and intended to address the impacts of Rohingya displacement on natural resources and local livelihoods in host community areas, particularly in adjacent forest protected areas (PAs) and ecologically critical areas (ECAs) of the Cox’s Bazar District, Bangladesh. The project aims to restore the degraded forests and conserve their biodiversity, reduce anthropogenic pressure on natural resources while securing the livelihoods of local poor resource users. The project also focuses on the consolidation and advancement of co-management /community-based management of protected areas promoted under different initiatives in achieving long-term sustainable management of natural resources of the forest PAs and ECAs. The project started in May 2020 for a period of 3 years and subsequently, the project has been extended for another 2 years.
The project aims to restore, conserve, and manage the local ecosystems, resources, and livelihoods of host communities in Cox’s Bazar area impacted by the Rohingya influx. The project activities are centered on 4 main thematic areas of work, including:
(a) Environmental conservation and climate change: activities included protection of forests, assisted forest regeneration, plantation in landscape areas, and community-based climate change adaptation plans development.
(b) Livelihood development and promotion of WASH: promoted AIG-based livelihood activities among 4200 poor HHs, introduced and operationalized Revolving Loan Fund, value chain, and market linkages.
(c) Promotion of alternate fuel use: promoted LPG, ICS, RHC, also planted fuelwood trees in community areas.
(d) Capacity development of key stakeholders: capacitated various CMOs in organizational management, leadership development, annual development planning, and financial resourcing. Also implemented a range of cross-cutting themes, including gender, youth engagement, and private sector engagement (PSE).
a. Forest and its landscape habitats improved as a result of plantation and assisted natural regeneration practices.
b. Management plans on some key significant animal species developed and brought under protection scheme.
c. The capacity of local communities for climate change adaptation is enhanced through increasing resiliency.
d. Household incomes of poor forest and other natural resource users increased through the adoption of AIGAs.
e. Local service providers (LSPs) and small business entities engaged in business support of AIGAs Undertaken by local communities.
f. Sustainable financing for AIGAs established and Value chain of AIG Products assessed and market linkages established.
g. Access to safe drinking water and sanitation services increased through increased adoption of WASH facilities.
h. The use of ICS, RHC, LPG, and biochar stoves as alternatives to forest-based fuelwoods increased among local communities.
i. Local community organizations’ capacity improved in the areas of organizational and natural resource management.
j. Women’s access to productive economic resources of the project and participation in societal/organizational activities increased.
Assessment by independent organizations showed improvement in forest improvement and coverage, increased HH incomes, and improved performance of CMOs; the establishment of a sustainable AIG financing mechanism reduced the use of fuel wood significantly.