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Research Into Use (RIU)

Research Into Use (RIU) Asian innovation challenge fund project: integrated floodplain management in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has an abundance of water in its floodplains in the wet season, but the limited amount of surface water in the dry season drives productivity. Past agricultural development focused on rice production (including water management - abstraction of water for irrigation, drainage, and excluding early floods). Aquatic common pool resources, such as fisheries, that the poor in particular depend on have been declining.

This project was built on the opportunity for a 'systems approach' that offered a win-win outcome – an overall increase in floodplain productivity. There are already many community based organisations (CBOs) responsible for managing common resources in floodplains and waterbodies that have graduated from earlier project support, but these had focused on only fisheries or water management for rice. They provided a base for coordinated action. This project used an adaptive learning framework to link CBOs so that they could share lessons on testing and adapting innovations in improving floodplain resource management. The set of innovations to improve agriculture, water use and fisheries management in ways that complement one another is known as Integrated Floodplain Management (IFM). IFM incorporates:

  • profitable alternative dry season crops with lower water demand than irrigated rice to conserve more water for fish in the dry season;
  • closed seasons for protecting breeding fish and fingerlings;
  • shorter duration rice varieties to enable earlier sluice gate opening;
  • modified sluice gate operation to balance needs of both rice and fish;
  • dry season sanctuaries for fish;
  • and various other linked community initiatives.

The project aimed to improve the productivity of up to 250 floodplain areas and sustain common pool resources there. The aim was to directly improve the livelihoods of the members of associated CBOs (about 50,000 households, of these about 31,000 are estimated to be poor - fishers or functionally landless), and indirectly benefit many of another 390,000 households (about half poor) using these resources. IFM diversifies production systems which should contribute towards local adaptation to climate change, and towards national objectives of reducing poverty and empowering local communities to sustain responsible management of natural resources. FHRC was responsible for research and impact assessment activities and for supporting CBOs in the western side of Bangladesh, our partners in the project were three NGOs: Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), Banchte Shekha, and Center for Natural Resource Studies, and in the UK MRAG.


UK DFID through the RIU programme


2008 – 2011

FHRC Project Manager:

Dr Parvin Sultana

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