Increasing the resilience of agricultural and aquacultural systems in the coastal areas of the Ganges Delta: Water governance and community based management
Inundation and severe flooding in the coastal areas is a frequent occurrence in Bangladesh. This leads to loss of life and property as well as severe impacts on livelihoods. The Government of Bangladesh has been investing steadily in coastal zone management through the construction and rehabilitation of polders. This project is about water governance and community-based management of polders in the coastal zones of Bangladesh. The challenges facing the polder communities are complex and similar to those faced by many communities in which water is used for multiple purposes. However, unlike other multiple-use systems (such as canals, tanks), where there is rarely ever a commonality in interest, in case of polder communities, the fear that these polders may breach during a natural calamity and cause damage to life and property makes it easier to bring about a modicum of community action. However, beyond this commonality, the communities face conflicting interests. They must prioritize water use across different sectors (water for irrigation versus water for shrimp cultivation, pond fisheries) or within the same sector (irrigation for boro crop versus irrigation for upland crops) and also cope with prolonged periods of submergence and non-rainy days. They must also limit potential conflict between water users, as they endeavor to use water efficiently, without seriously compromising equity issues, such as those related to access to water by marginalized members of the community and women. The main objective of this research project is to understand the different modes and outcomes of water governance in selected polder sites and understand the role that communities play in such governance, conflict resolution, and productive use of land and water resources.