Standard Chartered Bangladesh and Friendship recently inaugurated a comprehensive environmental project for 750 residents of Ghughumari Char, a remote sedimentary island in Kurigram. Under the framework of this project, the previously off-grid island will be supported with a 54-kilowatt solar micro-grid, 60 tube wells, and a tree plantation initiative.
By providing access to essential resources, the bank is lifting participation amongst marginalised communities and helping to drive sustainable economic and social development, said a press release.
The char's remote location, coupled with other environmental factors means that the small island is cut off from electricity, gas, running water, and other infrastructure. The installation of a cost-efficient solar micro-grid will connect 150 households to a much-needed sustainable energy source.
The effort has been designed with climate considerations in mind – it is flood-tolerant and can be relocated in response to extreme climate events. The installation of 60 tube wells will ensure access to safe and clean drinking water for the island's residents. Trees will be planted to arrest soil erosion and offset carbon footprint. All initiatives are expected to be completed within sixth months from inception and are expected to benefit residents for over ten years.
The agreement for the Standard Chartered-Friendship Solar Village project was signed by Naser Ezaz Bijoy, the chief executive officer of Standard Charted Bangladesh and Runa Khan, the founder and executive director of Friendship. The agreement exchange ceremony took place at Friendship's head office in Dhaka.
"By facilitating access to clean water, solar power, and a greener environment, this project will empower residents across the Ghughumari Char to seize new opportunities and improve the quality of life, as well as standards of living. With these essential resources in hand, the community will be able to build climate resilience, improve hygiene practices, and lift participation. We are proud to partner with Friendship to deliver comprehensive environmental solutions that help Bangladesh's most remote communities to grow, live better, and embrace sustainability," said Naser Ezaz Bijoy.
"The impermanent nature of the char islands makes permanent infrastructure like a connection to the main power grid next-to-impossible, and so renewable energy that is tailored to the needs of the local landscape is necessary. Not only do these residents now receive all the benefits of having electricity on their islands—lights, fans, refrigerators; meaning longer work and study hours, safety and security at night, preservation of goods and so forth, but this energy is also from a clean source that bypasses the need for a logistically impossible connection to the national grid," said Runa Khan.