Jan 05, 2016

Chittagong Hill Tracts: Potential for Development in the Spotlight

According to a report published by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), the “ethnically, culturally and topographically diverse region” of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) has an enormous potential to thrive in the tourism and agribusiness sector. The author of the report, Dr Golam Rasul, said that the local economy could be improved if the government developed the region as a trade transit point between the country and its eastern neighbours, particularly Myanmar, Thailand, and China. Dr Rasul underlined how the implementation of the Peace Accord is a crucial step in the process of decentralisation and devolution of power, which will allow for a coordinated development strategy for the region.

Below is an article published by The Daily Star

Chittagong Hill Tracts has huge potentials for flourishing as a tourism sector, and producing a number of high-value agricultural products like fruits, off-season vegetables and seeds, stated a report of Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

According to the report, “A Strategic Framework for Sustainable Development in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh”, the CHT is an ethnically, culturally and topographically diverse region with a population of about 1.6 million including 12 small ethnic communities.

Dr Golam Rasul, livelihoods theme leader at ICIMOD, a regional intergovernmental knowledge sharing centre serving eight countries of the Hindu Kush Himalayas, and author of the report, told the UNB that the government is yet to focus on developing the CHT as a hot spot for  tourism and horticulture due to ongoing land disputes.

Agribusiness is a sector which the region can usefully prioritise. Training on agro-processing techniques for farmers, and development of a market infrastructure can earn good prices for their agro products, he added.

According to the report, the region can be developed as a trade transit point between the mainland economy and the countries to the east, particularly Myanmar, Thailand, and China. All these approaches will eventually help improve local economy.

It also suggested implementing the outstanding elements of the Peace Accord, expediting the land dispute resolving process, strengthening, decentralisation and devolution of the authority of the CHT institutions, and coordination of development activities.

It also recommended integrated watershed management; transforming jhum practice, agro-forestry, horticulture and animal husbandry, strengthening post-harvest management and and local institutions by facilitating community mobilisation; and facilitating access to resources and ensuring security to ethnic communities.