The Director of the Institute, Dr Sheikh Tawhidul Islam, has been working for more than 20 years in different fields of environment ranging from hydro-meteorological processes, landform morphology to natural resources that gave him opportunities in reading and understanding these aspects meticulously. He combines science and social science tools and methods like GIS, remote sensing techniques and statistical methods as quantitative techniques; use theories like political ecology, common property resource management, and PRA, FGD as qualitative tools to examine environmental, disaster, and climate change impact situations. He used multi-sensor spaceborne image data to detect historical forest cover change in the central parts of Bangladesh while undertaking his Ph.D. research at Durham University (2002-2006) in the The United Kingdom. Wide-ranging field experience, national level contributions, experience to work with government and international agencies are the pillars upon which Dr. Islam’s professional strength, integrity and skills are relied on.
JOURNAL PAPERAniruddha Dey, Sheikh Tawhidul Islam, Biplabketan Paul, Swarnabha Bandyopadhyay, Piu Sengupta, Nandini Sanyal, Krishna Prosad Mondal, Al Jubaer, Rangeet Mitra, Waterlogging mitigation and safe water supply: lessons learnt from low-lying areas of Basirhat municipality, India, International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, 3, 3, pp.386-403, 2022. doi: https://doi.org/10.1108/IJDRBE-08-2021-0106
The purpose of this paper is to develop a replicable model that ensures Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage as well as water treatment facilities at the community level by providing total service coverage at community scale. An intervention was implemented in one of the low-lying areas of Basirhat Municipality (West Bengal, India) that included a number of action programs in order to address household- and community-level water-induced challenges. A research study was undertaken to identify the root causes of the problems that are generally spawned from geomorphological, hydro-fluvial, climatic factors and processes and the situation becomes complicated when many other cumulative problem-contexts layovers the existing ones. A number of social and technological innovations were tested in the field and this paper critically examined the intervention processes and outcomes. It was implemented through participatory process by involving related stakeholders working at that scale so that necessary public acceptance is received for scaling up, at least, in the similar physical, social, economic and institutional contexts. The problem conceptualization process, spatial assessment for contextualizing the problem, design of interventions for different scales, development of project deployment strategies from field-based learnings contributed in developing a total solution based on fusing of household-level technical solutions, social innovations and actions for community engagements towards sustainability. Mobilized community members in addressing local inundation and waterlogging crisis. Satellite image-based maps shown to make them understand the upper-lower connection of drainage. People also developed their own action plans and engaged themselves in resuscitation of an old canal, removed the garbage that resulted in improved drainage conditions in the area. Pandemic due to COVID 19 and its related prolonged lock down, West Bengal State Assembly Election, closure of municipal governance system due to the forthcoming municipal election, closure of educational institutions, closure of Anganwadi Centre in the field area were the limitations. Due to the lock down, it was difficult for the team to maintain the time frame as well as the budget. As per the Election’s Code of Conduct gets released no public meeting was allowed without permission, people in the vicinity became suspicious, hence movement of the team members got restricted. Due to the COVID protocols, the team could not organise mass training programs. It was difficult for the team members to commute in public/private transport, hence filed work got impacted. As the team could not access data from the health department, they developed a strategy of generation data on body mass index, mid-upper arm circumferences and waist-to-hip ratios to understand the status of health and nutrition of the community. It was difficult to access the Public Health Engineering Department’s laboratory situated in the municipality for water sample test. Cost escalated due to extension of the project time. During the second phase (wave) when people lost access to health facilities they requested the team to stop field visit. Women’s empowerment through acquiring knowledge and skill on treatment and safe storage of drinking water at home. Men appreciated and recognized this, which improved the status of women in the society. Children after expressing their willingness to learn the new technology of water purification were given handholding training by their mothers and knowledge transfer has taken place in the next generation. Mobilized community members in addressing local inundation and waterlogging crisis. Satellite image-based maps to understand the upper-lower connection of drainage helped them develop their own action plans and engaged themselves in resuscitation of an old canal, removed the garbage that resulted in improved drainage conditions in the area.Syed Hafizur Rahman Sheikh Tawhidul Islam, Tapas Ranjan Chakraborty, Road to Effective Introduction of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in Bangladesh: A Case Study from a Project Intervention, Bangladesh Journal of Environmental Research, 11, pp.67-79, 2020.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is the long-standing tool used by the Government of Bangladesh and also by the development proponents to make sure the proposed development project does not undermine environmental sustainability. Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) implied to policy, plan and programme is comparatively a new tool in Bangladesh although emerged elsewhere in the world since 2000 and recently incorporated into the Environmental Policy of Bangladesh 2018. This paper presents arguments on how SEA could effectively be introduced in Bangladesh. Qualitative data gained from PROTC project (Oxfam) intervention areas (Satkhira coast, Nilphamari char lands and Sunamganj haors) were used to develop rationale why local environmental and social elements are pivotal in ensuring their sustainability. Effective application of SEA will not only strengthen the legal framework relating to the environment in Bangladesh but also will provide necessary guidelines for the safeguard of social and environmental components of the country.Syed Hafizur Rahman, BMR Faisal, Sheikh Tawhidul Islam, A CRITICAL REVIEW ON WATER GOVERNANCE GAPS IN BANGLADESH, SUB JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT, pp.40, 2019.
This paper aims to outline the gaps regarding water governance for Bangladesh from the experience of Asia Water Governance Index (AWGI) which was proposed by Araral and Yu in 2010 and from country baseline survey on water integrity issues in 2014. Twenty indicators have been evaluated in the dimension of water law, water policy, and water administration in order to appraise the status of Bangladesh. It has been found that, among twenty variables, eleven variables like surface water property right, accountability of water sector officials, decentralisation tendency within water law, legal framework for integrated treatment of water sources, pricing policy, water law and water policy linkage, finance for water investments, functional capacity and balance, validity of water data and science and technology application have been in unacceptable status compare to the top countries (Australia, Singapore and Japan). The rest nine indicators have moderate upgrading scenario compare to the top countries. The country baseline assessment states that the existing law/policy/legislation and water institution covers the issues like water rights, equitable sharing and gender participation in the legislative frameworks and in organizational instructions but corruption, accountability and transparency aspects are not clearly specified or not pertinent in some cases. From the experience of AWGI and baseline water integrity survey, these identified issues should be prioritized to improve the water governance in Bangladesh.
BOOK CHAPTERMir A. Matin, Sheikh Tawhidul Islam, Geospatial Applications in the HKH Region: Country Needs and Priorities, Earth Observation Science and Applications for Risk Reduction and Enhanced Resilience in Hindu Kush Himalaya Region, Springer, pp.41-57, 2021. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-73569-2_3
Geospatial information, defined as information that refers to a location on Earth, is becoming a critical tool in governance (Chantillon et al. in ISPRS Int J Geo-Inf 6, 2017). Over the last decade, such information has become part of mainstream information management, thereby creating a massive demand for geospatial content and solutions among individuals, private companies, and government agencies.Dibakar Chakraborty, Krishna Prosad Mondal, Sheikh Tawhidul Islam, Joyashree Roy, Chapter 26 - 2017 flash flood in Bangladesh: Lessons learnt, Disaster Resilience and Sustainability, pp.591-610, 2021. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-323-85195-4.00007-X
The 2017 flash flood happened due to unusual premonsoon heavy rainfall in the upper catchment areas of northeastern wetland, popularly called Haor, regions of Bangladesh. The heavy rainfall occurred 1 month ahead of regular calendar time and left a cascading effect. Income and livelihood security of people living in these wetland areas of Bangladesh primarily depend on the natural resources of the area such as land resources, water, favorable climatic conditions, thriving biodiversity etc. An early premonsoon flash flood in 2017 in the Sunamganj district damaged about 90% of agricultural crops and fish production. Impacts of flash floods on the lives and livelihood of local people are assessed by using both quantitative and qualitative methods in this study. Sentinel-1 radar data of the European Space Agency was used to characterize the 2017 flood. In addition, data comes from Focus Group Discussion, Key Informant Interview to assess the impacts of floods on people, their coping strategies, and related social processes. The results suggest that floods return in every 3 years in the area and sometimes in big magnitude compared to regular floods, which does not give local farmers adequate time to offset the loss that happened in the last disaster. Loss of livelihoods of people and related poverty conditions, food insecurity and malnutrition, loss of assets, and transfer of ownership of land resources from local farmers to external entities due to market failure were found to be the direct impacts of the 2017 flood. On the other hand, forced migration of farmers from the local environment to unfamiliar and unjust workplaces in the cities, disagreements between farmers with government agencies in choosing the paddy variety (BRRI 28 or BRRI 29) to cultivate, and dispute over prioritization of crop-duration variety versus yield-optimization variety are the indirect impacts of flood 2017.Sheikh Tawhidul Islam, Climate change crisis in Bangladesh, Routledge India, 2019/4/10, pp.18, 2019.
This chapter is a discussion on the conceptual conundrums and challenges in coping with climate change crisis in Bangladesh. It provides geographical explanations for aspects of climate change; how programme activities are designed and implemented; and, finally, the chapter identifies the critical knowledge gaps in areas of climate change using secondary information. It argues that uncertainties and extreme events are natural parts of the climatic systems of any country where seasons are as characteristically distinct as they are in Bangladesh.
BOOKSheikh Tawhidul Islam and Alak Paul, Geography in Bangladesh: Concepts, Methods and Applications, Taylor & Francis, 2019/4/10, pp.300, 2019.
This book provides an overview of the emergence of geography as a discipline in Bangladesh and the contributions made by local geographers towards the development of the country. It explores problems associated with population growth and poverty, landlessness and food security, land use and natural resource management, urbanism, climate change, disaster management and human health. The volume shows how research and the study of geography in the ‘periphery’can contribute in achieving progress in countries like Bangladesh and help them prepare against imminent disasters, ecological, social, economic shocks and uncertainties. This book will be useful to students and researchers of geography, environment studies, disaster management, development studies, geoinformatics, geology, demography, sociology and South Asian studies with a particular focus on Bangladesh. It will also interest various policy makers and NGO professionals working in these and related fields.
Position: Key Expert
Urban Resilience Project – RAJUK; April (2019) to December (2020).