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Polder 31, Dacope Upazila, Khulna
Camelia Dewan and Mahanambrota Das
Merged by Marie-Charlotte Buisson October 2012
1. INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................................................ 4 1.2. Aim of the report ............................................................................................................................................. 4 1.2. Methodology ..................................................................................................................................................... 4 1.3. Overview of Polder 31 .................................................................................................................................. 10 1.3.1. Location and accessibility ..................................................................................................................... 10 1.3.2. Demographic features ........................................................................................................................... 10 1.3.3. Basic Facilities Access............................................................................................................................ 12 1.4. History of polder 31 ...................................................................................................................................... 13 1.4.1. Construction of Embankment in the 1960s ...................................................................................... 13 1.4.2. Shrimp in the 1980s: Leasing and outside landowners .................................................................... 13 1.4.3. Third and Fourth Fisheries Projects in the 1990s-2000................................................................... 13 1.4.4. Post-Aila 2009: Saline Prevention Committee .................................................................................. 14 1.5. Physical environment and intervention ...................................................................................................... 14 2. FARMING SYSTEMS AND LIVELIHOODS ........................................................................................ 15 2.1 2.3. 2.4. 2.5. 2.6. 2.7. 3. Cropping pattern ..................................................................................................................................... 15 Fisheries .................................................................................................................................................... 19 Livestock ................................................................................................................................................... 20 Fruit trees and vegetables ....................................................................................................................... 20 Leasing and Migration............................................................................................................................. 20 Drinking water ......................................................................................................................................... 21 2.2 Irrigation sources ............................................................................................................................................ 18
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF POLDER 31 .............................................................................. 22 3.1. Condition of the embankment .................................................................................................................... 22 3.2. Condition of Sluice gates .............................................................................................................................. 24 3.3. Condition of Canals: siltation and leasing issues ...................................................................................... 25 3.3.1. Siltation .................................................................................................................................................... 25 3.3.2. Leasing ..................................................................................................................................................... 26 3.3. Main water-related problems ................................................................................................................. 28
FOURTH FISHERIES AND WATER MANAGEMENT GROUPS ................................................. 28 4.1. Formation of Community Based Organisations ....................................................................................... 28 LABOUR CONTRACTING SOCIETIES................................................................................................. 31 5.1. Formation and Project .................................................................................................................................. 31
5.2. LCS livelihood ................................................................................................................................................ 32 5.3. Governance and water management .......................................................................................................... 33 6. MAINTENANCE OF EMBANKMENTS, CANALS AND SLUICE GATES ................................ 34 6.1 Maintenance by BWDB ................................................................................................................................. 34 6.2. Maintenance by Union Parishad.................................................................................................................. 35 6.3. Maintenance by Polder Committee and Block committee...................................................................... 36 6.4. 6.5. 6.6. 7. Maintenance by local people (informal) ............................................................................................... 36 Maintenance by other.............................................................................................................................. 37 How does maintenance take place? ...................................................................................................... 37
OPERATION OF SLUICE GATES ........................................................................................................... 38 7.1. Operation through BWDB .......................................................................................................................... 38 7.2. Operation through Union Parishad and Gate committees ..................................................................... 38 7.2.1. Pankhali Union ....................................................................................................................................... 38 7.2.2. Tildanga Union ....................................................................................................................................... 39 7.3. How does operation take place? .................................................................................................................. 42
CONFLICTS..................................................................................................................................................... 43 8.1. Conflicts regarding saline water intrusion and shrimp cultivation ......................................................... 43 8.2. Conflicts regarding canal ownership ........................................................................................................... 44 8.3. Participation, Exclusion and Gender .......................................................................................................... 45
9. A. i) ii) iii) B.
CONCLUSION................................................................................................................................................ 47 ANNEX 1: INSTITUTIONS IN WATER GOVERNANCE ............................................................... 49 Government Agencies ................................................................................................................................. 49 NGOs ............................................................................................................................................................ 51 Private actors................................................................................................................................................. 51 ANNEX 2 INSTITUTIONS: GENERAL INFORMATION ............................................................... 52
1.1. Aim of the report
Based on Focus Group Discussions (FGD) and Key Informant Interviews (KIIs), this report aims to create a detailed situation analysis of polder 31 in Dacope Upazila. It will do so by providing: (i) A historical narrative of the polder from the time it was constructed to present; (ii) Farming systems and livelihoods options; (iii) Current state of the polder infrastructure; (iv) Examining the results and process of the water management intervention through the Fourth Fisheries project (v) Reviewing how maintenance of water infrastructure takes place and how communities are involved in that; (vi) Reviewing how operation of sluice gates takes place and (vii) Discussing main conflicts. It will then conclude by discussing the main findings and implementable policy recommendations that came from the respondents for improving water management in Polder 31.
Seven Focus Group Discussions and 14 Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) were conducted by the Shushilan research team from 8th March to 12th March, 2012. Three FGDs out of seven were held in Pankhali Union and the remaining four were conducted in Tildanga Union. The venue of the FGDs were selected based on IWM map, transect walk and consultation with the local people by considering various part of the union, distance from main rivers and sluice gates, the situation of the rivers, canals, gates and concentration of various types of farming in particular paddy cultivation with or without aquaculture. The study also conducted 14 KIIs with different stakeholders. All of the KIIs were selected through snowball and opportunity process. The KIIs with farmers, women headed households, woman LCS representative, woman UP member, case hanging person/affected person were held at their village home and the KIIs with UP chairman, community organizer, Upazila Agriculture Officer, and Section Officer of BWDB were held at the respective offices in the UP and Sub-district headquarters. The map below describes where the FGDs have been conducted. A glance at the FGD venues and participants reveals the following: Moukhali village of Pankhali union (BWDB SL#36, Pipes#3-5) Moukhali is located in the Northern part of the polder and very near to the River Monga. The FGD covered canals include Mou Khal, Dublar Khal, Duaniar Khal, Boilasher khal, Katakhali Khal, Kadomtolir Khal, Thakuron Bari Khal, Bain tala, and Bot tola khal. Dublar Khal and Boilasher khal etc. Most of the canals are closed and silted. In the FGD group, total 12 participants (11 male and 1 female) including farmers, shrimp business, teacher, UP member, day labour and salaried profession were present. Age of the participants varied from 27 to 50 years. One fourth of the participants attended from Hindu community. Two of the respondents were UP representatives. Khona village of Pankhali union (BWDB SL#2-5, Public#2-3, 11-14) The second general FGD group was held at Khona village of Pankhali Union, near to Bhadra and Dhaki River. The main canals include Bhadra & Dhaki River. Baruikhali Canal, Baintola, Kalabogi, Dofadar, Khona, Katakhali, Maitry, Basundia, Abul Hossain’s. Concentration of canals, sluice gates bearing 4
number 12 to19. Silted and blocked canals, sluice gates closed. Paddy and white fish cultivation. Total eleven participants were present in the FGD session including farmers, female UP member, businessman, retired government officials, NGO activist and teacher. Only three participants were female. The age of the respondents varied from 34 to 60. Khatail village of Pankhali union. (BWDB SL#5 and 6) The third FGD conducted with eight LCS members at Kataial village of Pankhali Union, near to Bhadra and Dhaki River. Comparatively less concentration of canals, one sluice gate bearing number 19, was in good condition. All of the participants were day labours, two of them were landless, others owned land from .05 to .40 acres. Moshamari village of Tildanga union (BWDB SL#5-6, Public#21) In the fourth FGD, eight male participants were present at Mashamari village of Tildanga Union, in the middle part of the polder near to the Rivers Dhaki and Shibsha. High concentration of canals, some canals are active and some are deposited of silt and closed by land grabbers. The sluice gates bearing numbers 20 (Botbonia sluice), 22 (Arakhali sluice) and 64 (Badhra sluice) are existed. Comparatively the sluice gates were in good condition except Botbonia sluice (no 20). Profession of the respondents was agriculture, service, teaching, housewife and businessman. Age of the respondents varied from 37 to 70. One of the respondents was female. Ghatail village of Tildanga union (BWDB SL#20) The fifth FGD was conducted with seven LCS women participants at Ghatail village of Tildanga Union, near to the Rivers Dhaki and Bhadra and only one sluice gate bearing no 20 (Kalibari sluice gate), closed and silted canals. All of the participants were Sanaton Hindu and age varied from 30 to 40 years. Kaminibashia village of Tildanga union (BWDB SL#14-23) The sixth FGD was conducted in Mozamnagar/Kaminibashia village of Tildanga, in the South-East side of the polder, near to Sibsha and Dhaki River. Main canals include Gorkhali, Tatkhali, Nishankhali, Rashkhola, Kaminibasia, Sidarth Sekhor: Gonibari & Sanabari etc. blocked and silted canals, Sluice gates (no 31 to 46 below map) constructed by BWDB and fourth fisheries and private. Agriculture and shrimp culture. Total participants of this FGD were nine, all were male and aged varied between 31 to 60 years. Most of the participants were gher owners, a few of them were service and agriculture profession. Botbunia and Tildanga village of Tildanga Union (BWDB SL#5-6 and Public#23) The last FGD was conducted with ten WMC members in Botbonia Bazaar of Tildanga Union, very near to Shibsha River. Concentration canals, but most of the canals were silted, a few of them were closed and blocked by land grabbers. Gorkhali canal was leased for long years to local powerful man, river erosion and salinity. Sluice gates condition was comparatively good. All of the participants were male and they were involved with different professions like agriculture, shrimp culture, business and village doctor. Age of the respondents was 39 to 62. The study also conducted fourteen KIIs including women headed households, paddy farmer, shrimp gher owners, affected person, WMC representatives, UP representatives, Government officials. All of the KIIs were conducted at village level except UP and Government officials. KII with Government officials were conducted to the respective Upazila office.
Figure 1 -
Location of the FGD
The list of FGD and KII is provided in Table 1 and 2.
TYPE OF FGD
UPAZILA UNION VILLAGE PURISHAD Dacope Dacope Dacope Pankhali Pankhali Tildanga Moukhali
General Group General Group General Group
Male Male Male
10-03-2012 10-03-2012 10-03-2012
LCS LCS WMG TOTAL = 7 FGD
Women 10-03-2012 Women 10-03-2012 Male 10-03-2012
Dacope Dacope Dacope Table 1 -
Pankhali Tildanga Tildanga
Moukhali, Dublir, Doania, Takuronbari, Baintola, Katakhal, Kadamtoli Khona SL#2-5, Public#2-3, 11-14 Bhadra River, Deluti khali, Boroi Khal Kaminibashia SL#14-23 Pipe#7, Public#15 Shibsa and Dhaki Rivers. Garkhal, Kaminibashia khal Tatkhali Canal, Nishankhali Canal, Rashkhola Canal, Gonibari Canal, Sanabari Canal. Moshamari SL#5-6 Public#23 Dhaki, Shibsa, Badurgacha and Bhadra Rivers. Chandibari, Moshamari (khas khal), Kamumari, Choto Charah, Boro Charpora, Ghater khal, Konar khal, Orabunia khal, Gorhibunia, Botbunia gante khal, Guptakhali, Baintola, Banshtala and Kalibari canals Khatail SL#5-6 Bhadra and Dhaki Rivers, Kolibari khal Tildanga SL#5-6 Public#23 Bhadra and Dhaki Rivers, Kolibari khal Botbunia SL#5-6 Public#23 Bhadra and Dhaki Rivers, Kolibari khal
BWDB SLUICE GATES SL#36
INFORMAL STRUCTURES Pipes #3-5
List of Focus Group Discussions conducted in polder 31
TYPE OF KII UP Chairman UP Member UP Member Woman shrimp farmer WMA President Shrimp farmer (65 biggha) Shrimp farmer (18 biggha) Shrimp farmer (3 biggha) Paddy farmer (30 biggha) Paddy farmer (3 biggha) Paddy farmer (15 biggha)
GENDER Male Male Woman Woman Male Male Male Male Male Male Male
UNION PURISHAD Pankhali Tildanga Pankhali Tildanga Pankhali Tildanga Tildanga Tildanga Tildanga Tildanga Tildanga -
VILLAGE Khatail Tildanga Pankhali Nishankhali Chalna Kaminibashia Kaminibashia Kaminibashia Garkhali/Botbunia Botbunia Tildanga -
BWDB SLUICE INFORMAL GATES STRUCTURES SL#5-6 Sl#5 SL#1
WATERBODIES Bhadra and Dhaki Rivers, Kolibari khal Bhadra River Kholisha khal, Foiszer kata khal, Pankhali khal Shibsa and Dhaki Rivers. Garkhali khal Tetultola khal, Talkhali khal Shotobalia (no khal connected to Public #17) Garkhali khal, Shotobalia (no khal connected to Public #17) Dhaki River, Baroikhali khali, Kakrabunia khal Dhaki River, Baroikhali khali, Kakrabunia khal Dhaki River, Baroikhali khali, Kakrabunia khal
14-03-2012 Dacope 12-03-2012 Dacope 13-03-2012 Dacope 12-03-2012 Dacope 19-03-2012 Dacope 12-03-2012 Dacope 12-03-2012 Dacope 12-03-2012 Dacope 13-03-2012 Dacope 12-03-2012 Dacope 12-03-2012 Dacope 13-03-2012 Dacope 14-03-2012 Dacope 14-03-2012 Dacope Table 2 -
Public#10, 22 Public #17-18
SL#10-11, 24 Public#17-18 SL#25 Public#17-18 Public#23 SL#6 Public#23 Public#23
BWDB SO Male LGED CO Male Upazila Agriculture Officer Male TOTAL = 14 KI
List of Key Informant Interviews conducted in polder 31
1.3. Overview of Polder 31
1.3.1. Location and accessibility Geographical characteristics Polder 31 is located in Dacope Upazila in Khulna district. It is divided between Pankhali and Tildanga Union Parishads. Dacope covers a total area of 90 sq km as per the Population Census of 2001, while the BWDB embankment encircles approximately 73 sq km. The length of the embankment in is 46.9 km. The remaining 17 sq km area is the land (0 to 500 m wide) between the river and the embankment. There are 37 formal sluice gates made by the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB), 23 informal gates made by the public and 7 informal pipe regulators. The area is surrounded by the rivers Habrakhali, Manga and Badurgacha in the northwest, Dhaki in the southeast and Shibsa in the southwest. The Bhadra river crosses the polder from west to east, Jhopjhopia in the southwest, lower Bhodra in the south, Salta in the Northwest and Kazibacha in the east. All of these rivers are navigable round the year except Jhopjhopia which dry from late winter to early summer in the ebb-tide. The rivers have considerable traffic for strategic location near the port of Mongla and the city of Khulna. Chalna, located within the polder is an important river station. Botbunia is another river station located within the polder. In the past, water transport was important for both passenger and cargo movement. Presently, passenger boat service is decreasing due to improved road network. Goods transport is still continued but that too is gradually declining. The land profile of the study polder is saucer shaped. The land along the riverbanks is slightly higher elevated than the land in the centre of the polder and along the inner canals. Given this general saucer shaped feature, the lands along the riverbanks are a bit higher elevated that the land in the middle of the polder and the land along the inner canals. Due to this topographic feature, the settlement area and the villages are located along the river banks and along major canals. Rural roads were also constructed along the river banks while inner side of the polder was agricultural area, the bulk of which was converted to shrimp gher but again going back to paddy farming Accessibility The polder 31 connected to Khulna city by an Upazila road via Botiagha Upazila in the North side. The distance from polder 31 to Khulna city is about 40 kms. Road communication is not good. Bus is available for limited time from Khulna city to Pankhali Ferighat. Earthen and brick s roads. Most of the roads are broken and damaged. Motorbikes and rickshaw van are popular transport for road communication. The embankment also used as a road for the mobility of the local people. Road communication is harder during rainy season. Country and mechanized boats and launches are popular transport for waterway. Boat and launch are available round the year and preferable for good transport. 1.3.2. Demographic features Table 3 below provides demographic data of Pankhali and Tildanga Unions and polder 31 as compared to Upazila Dacope. Total population of the polder 31 is 32, 576 while comprising households 7, 830 and household size 4.2. Both population density and household size are similar compare to Unions Pankhali, Tildanga and Dacope Upazila. Female population is higher than male population in the polder area. Percentage of Muslim and Sanaton Hindu are 51.2% and 48.6%. Compare to 10% Hindu minority of the country, minority people is comparatively higher in this polder. Literacy rate of the polder 31 is only 58.3%, where male literacy is 66% and female literacy is 50.9%.
Pankhali Area (Sq km) Household Population Total Density Household Size Male Female Sex Ratio Religion Muslim % Hindu % Christian and others Literacy All Literacy M Literacy F 15.12 3735 15570 1030 4.2 7637
96 66.7 33.3 56.5 62.8 50.4
Tildanga UP 16.58 4095 17006 1026 4.2 8359 8647 97 37.0 62.5 0.5 60.0 69.1 51.3
Polder 31 Total 31.70 7830 32576 1028 4.2 15996 16580 96.5 51.2 48.6 0.2 58.3 66.0 50.9
Dacope Upazila 148.31 36597 152316 1027 4.2 76291 76025 100 41.6 56.5 1.9 56.0 62.9 49.1
Source: BBS, Population Census 2011, Community Series for Khulna District Table 3 Area and Population
Table 4 below shows employment status of male and female population of age 7 and above not attending school. In the polder 31, 77.9% of the males (of age 7+ not attending school) are “employed” in various income earning activities and 21.2 % are represented not working. Of the female of 7+ age group (not attending school), 3.6 % are reported to be working in various economic activities, 74.25% reported to be engaged in household chores only and about 22.0% non working. The data should however be read with caution that age 7+ not in school, is not a good definition of labor force. Pankhali Population age 7+ not in school Male Female Employed Male Employed Female % employed Male % employed Female % Looking for Job Male % Looking for Job Female % in household work Male % in household work Female % not working Male % not working Feale 3875 1502 2373 1190 106 79.2 4.5 0.6 0.3 0.7 73.6 19.4 21.7 Tildanga UP 3548 1144 2406 871 68 76.1 2.8 0.2 0.1 0.8 74.9 22.9 22.2 Polder 31 Total 7423 2646 4779 2061 174 77.9 3.6 0.4 0.2 0.75 74.25 21.2 22.0 Dacope Upazila 32306 11975 20331 9360 1280 78.2 6.3 0.7 0.3 1.3 69.8 19.8 23.7
Source: BBS, Population Census 2011, Community Series for Khulna District Table 4 Employment Status of Polder Area People (age 7+ not in school)
Table 5 below shows distribution of male and female working population by broad economic sectors. In the polder 31, about eight tenth (80.1%) of the male workers are engaged in the agriculture sector, only 1.5% in industries and 18.4% in the service sectors. Besides, of the female workers, about 33.9% are engaged in the agriculture sector, about 2.3 % in industry sector and 63.8 in service sectors. Compare to 11
employment of working population by broad sectors in the polder 31, Pankhali, Tildanga Union and Dacope Upazila do not vary much. Interesting is that more than sixty percent of the female workers are involved in service sectors and this percentage almost three times higher than male workers. Female workers are mostly involved with shrimp gher, prawn fry collection… Pankhali Agriculture % of male worker Agriculture % of female worker Industry % of male worker Industry % of female worker Services % of male worker Services % of female worker 72.2 19.8 1.4 2.8 26.4 77.4 Tildanga UP 90.9 55.9 1.6 1.5 7.5 42.6 Polder 31 Total 80.1 33.9 1.5 2.3 18.4 63.8 Dacope Upazila 75.7 28.5 3.2 3.7 21.1 67.8
Source: BBS, Population Census 2011, Community Series for Khulna District Table 5 Employment of Working Population by Broad Sectors
1.3.3. Basic Facilities Access Table 6 below shows that nearly three fourth of the population of the polder 31 have access to safe drinking water and the main source is deep tube well. The overall drinking water situation is not good in the polder 31. But the situation of drinking water of the polder 31 is better than Dacope Upazila as a whole. It seems that drinking water scarcity is acute in this polder. People have to collect water from far away (about one and half to four km distance). After cyclone Aila, scarcity of drinking water has increased due to salinity. In some areas of the polder31, deep tube-well is also not successful. Besides, many ponds have been destroyed due to salinity and gher culture. People commented that boring water also saline. In the polder 31, near about half of the population have sanitary toilet with water sealed, where about 34% have no water sealed sanitary toilet, about 12% use non sanitary toilet and about 6% have no any toilet facilities. This situation regarding toilet facilities does not vary much than Pankhali, Tildanga UP and Dacople Upazila. In polder 31, more than one fourth (28.3%) of the households have electricity facility and this percentage is almost same in Dacope Upazila. Pankhali Sanitary Toilet water sealed % Sanitary not water sealed % Non sanitary% No latrine % water source :L TW/Tape % Electricity Connected % 37.9 40.3 16.7 5.0 69.6 19.8 Tildanga UP 57.6 27.6 8.2 6.6 79.5 36.8 Polder 31 Total 47.75 33.95 12.45 5.80 74.55 28.3 Dacope Upazila 45.0 22.3 18.9 13.7 31.3 28.2
Source: BBS, Population Census 2011, Community Series for Khulna District Table 6 Availability of or Access to Basic Facilities
1.4. History of polder 31
1.4.1. Construction of Embankment in the 1960s The embankment of polder 31 was constructed in the 1960s under the regime of President Ayub Khan when Bangladesh was still East Pakistan. Prior to the polder, water management in this area was based on a system of Austomashi bandhs. These were small mud embankments that were constructed in January (magh) after the harvesting and removed in August/September (bhadro). These temporary mud embankments avoided salinity intrusion during the dry season, whereas fresh water can flow-in during monsoon. The river water during Bhadro would carry substantial amounts of silt that would then deposit in the paddy fields, leading to high productivity. Some respondents emphasized that the system was collective and that all villagers participated in the construction. It should be noted that this system was prevalent during the Zamindari system, where large landholdings belonged to the Zamindar (land owner). The Zamindar would coordinate the Austomashi system with the communities. This was a dynamic system that adapted to the active flows of the delta. In the 1960s, the abolishment of the Zamindari system had led to a void in the Austomashi bandhs. In polder 31, respondents in Moshamari, Tildanga Union (BWDB SL#6 Kalibari and #34 Bhadra, Public SL#23) mentioned that 4-5 people from each household would work together to make ‘bandhs’ on the sides of the river for their own benefit. The gap from this system was further exacerbated by the major floods of the late 1950s that led to the Kruger report emphasizing flood protection in the coastal zones. Polder 31 was one out of over 100 polders that saw the construction of large scale embankments made to protect the lands from flood and saline inundation, while simultaneously boosting agricultural production. In polder 31, the BWDB constructed approximately 50 sluice gates at the time of the embankment construction that was completed in 1968. Additional, but smaller, sluice gates were then constructed in the mid 1990s (under the Third Fisheries Project) and 2005 (under the Fourth Fisheries Project). In addition, to expand shrimp farming area, local shrimp farmers either individually or collectively, constructed 31 smaller sluice gates. Many of the private gates have been constructed without formal approval of the BWDB but with informal deals with the local BWDB officials. And, practically all pipe inlets are “unauthorized”. 1.4.2. Shrimp in the 1980s: Leasing and outside landowners The background of these unauthorized pipes and additional gates stretch back to the 1980s, where Bangladesh saw the emergence of large scale commercial shrimp cultivation. During this time, shrimp farmers changed the design of the polder through cuts, pipes and extra gates in order to access salt water needed for shrimp cultivation. Shrimp prices were high throughout the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s and the GoB heavily promoted the shrimp industry as it was perceived as a good source of foreign exchange. This is made clear by projects such as First, Second, Third and Fourth Fisheries. Commercial brackish shrimp cultivation began in Polder 31 in the late 1980s (1987-89). It was seen as a highly profitable venture. This decade also saw the trend of outsiders leasing the land in the area to cultivate shrimp (Bagda). Local people would lease their land to these outsiders who would cultivate shrimp. In general, bagda was cultivated by the outsiders from January to July and the land returned to the lease giver for Aman cultivation August to December. Bagda cultivation was especially prominent in Tildanga union and was further promoted through the Third Fisheries (1995) and Fourth Fisheries (2001-2006) projects. 1.4.3. Third and Fourth Fisheries Projects in the 1990s-2000 The Third Fisheries Projects (TFP) in the 1990s provided some new sluice gates that helped to promote shrimp farming. The TFP structures became damaged within a few years due to poor construction quality. Many of them were non-functional due to inadequate design and placements at the wrong 13
location. This has been attributed to ineffective community consultation process. The Fourth Fisheries Project (FFP) learned from this experience and focused on community based fisheries and sought to promote sustainable growth in fish and shrimp production for domestic consumption and exports. It started in 1999-2000 terminated in 2006. To date, the FFP was the largest fisheries project of the Government of Bangladesh and carried out activities in 49 sites covering more than half of the districts in Bangladesh. The Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock implemented the project with assistance from the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) and the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED). The project received financial support from the Government of Bangladesh, the World Bank and the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) (Fourth Fisheries, 2005). In brief, the activities were of four types stocking of water bodies with fingerlings, setting up of fish sanctuaries, habitat restoration through reexcavation of canals and beels, and construction of fish passes and fish-friendly regulators to ease riverfloodplain migration of fish (Aeron-Thomas, 2005)1. To achieve these ends, FFP went into operation and restructuring of water regulators (sluice gates) and the maintenance and use of inner canals (khals) in a way that increased salinity inside the polder. As the CBOs had not incorporated and addressed the conflict between shrimp and paddy systems when deciding on the operation of the sluice gates this further exacerbated the conflict and this element of the project had to be thwarted (Andreasson, 2012). 1.4.4. Post-Aila 2009: Saline Prevention Committee The FFP was heavily resisted by the local rights based NGO Nijera Kori that significantly disturbed the project. This was mainly due to the shrimp-promoting component of the FFP, where salt water shrimp required a water management approach that was harmful to paddy cultivation. They were further supported by the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) who litigated against shrimp farmers alleged with human rights violations. The cuts, pipes and unauthorized gates were seen to weaken the embankment. The tropical cyclone of Aila in 2009 wreaked havoc in polder 31, the areas of the embankment with many pipes were especially damaged and caused severe inundation of homesteads. In Pankhali Union, Nijera Kori and BELA organized the local communities to ban salinity intrusion. A high court ruling in January 2012 further made forced salinity intrusion illegal. In Tildanga Union, many of the local people still continue with Bagda shrimp. The respondents in Tildanga Union noted that the south of the polder is too saline during the dry season to cultivate anything other than Bagda. For them, Bagda cultivation is immensely profitable and has improved their livelihoods. Poorer respondents have on the other hand said that shrimp cultivations has damaged their paddy yields and many of them have felt the need to migrate as shrimp cultivation requires less day laborers than paddy. The remaining report will look deeper into the processes and motivations for and against salinity intrusion.
1.5. Physical environment and intervention
All of the four rivers surrounding the polder are still navigable round the year, although siltation is gradually reducing navigability. Land elevation slopes down from the North (Pankhali union) to the South (Tildanga union). Mora Bhadra River (closed on both sides by the embankment) separates the polder in two parts, Pankhali and Tildanga. Another river in Tildanga UP Gorkhali is closed by the
The project consisted of five major components: (i) Improving community-based inland open-water fisheries management; (ii) Developing and applying an appropriate extension strategy for freshwater aquaculture; (iii) Developing environmentally friendly smallholder shrimp production and improving the sustainability of shrimp fry collection; (iv) Studying key issues in aquatic resource development and management. Developing a socially feasible and ecologically sound management plan for the conservation of hilsha fisheries; (v) Strengthening the institutional capacity of DoF to manage and support the fisheries sector
embankment. The polder is crisscrossed by canals. The canals are closed by the embankment, but 82 sluice gates, regulators and culvarts were constructed to regulate water (45 in Tildanga) but all of them are closed in dry season in Tildanga, Botbunia, mouzamnager and most of them were opened in both dry and monsoon seasons in Kaminibasia and Gorkhali mouzas. All (22) sluices are closed during Jan-June and open during Jul-Dec in Pankhali UP. It is also observed that embankment height inadequate while river bed rising due to deposition of silt. Gate structure is fine but wooden shutter are broken. The embankment is in risky situation due to river bank erosion of Shibsha (Mosamari, general FGD). Many canals are silted for example Katakhali khal, only 2 feet deep and the participants of Khona village. According to the comments of the local people of Tildanga, abut 50 % sluice gates are now in good condition. UP member of Tildanga Union said that Kamumari, Charkhali, Kochabari amd Mosamari canals blocked as the gates are broken. Borachora, Banstola canals silted. Chotachora, Orabunia and Goldar khal leased to influential people by land office. As per comments of UP chairman- Pankhali, Khalisha khal, Dashbamoner Khal, Moukhali Duaniar Khal and Dublir Khal Blocked. Thakuronbari Khal, Pankhali Khal, Dashmanober Khal, Halderkhali Khal and Sharok kata khal has silted up. Local people commented that Gorkhali canal is leased to influential person for 99 years. Have pipe inlets in Pankhali, Khona, Hoglabunia, Moukhali, Loxmikhola, Boraikhali. One of the government officials said that many pipe inlets are controlled by politically influential people.
2. FARMING SYSTEMS AND LIVELIHOODS
2.1 Cropping pattern
Figure 2 -
Figure 1 Evolution of cropping pattern in Polder 31
Before 1968, local Aman paddy varieties such as Kachra, Bojramuri and fine grained Basmati Balaam were produced in large scale. IRRI paddy was not cultivated at that time. According to respondents, though the embankments were supposed to increase yields and prevent salinity, productivity declined the first few years as the amount of silt had simultaneously been reduced (Moukhali FGD, Pankhali). After the construction of the embankment, IRRI, or high yielding varieties of paddy was cultivated according to the respondents. They mention that the government was providing free fertilizer to promote IRRI Aman during the 1974-75, not naming the ‘Green Revolution’ by name (Khona FGD, Pankhali). In the mid1980s, commercial shrimp cultivation was introduced in the polder. In Moshamari, Tildanga Union, this was referred to as ‘saline water cultivation’, and it was emphasized that the salinity intrusion associated with shrimp cultivation affected paddy cultivation negatively, where the paddy yields were ‘reduced much more in comparison to the early stages of the BWDB embankment construction’. One respondent stated that a majority of the people did not want to start shrimp cultivation “We were bound to start shrimp farming otherwise our land would remain fallow around the year due to concentration of high level salinity in sub-surface soil”. The perceptions of the 1980s shrimp cultivation differ among the different respondents. Many of the KIIs with shrimp farmers were concentrated in Kaminibasha village in Tildanga Union Parishad. While some mention that salinity was natural and shrimp cultivation was the only option, others quite freely admit that they started saline intrusion so as to start shrimp cultivation. One of the large shrimp farmer respondents (65 biggha, SL#43,45-46) mentioned that salinity intrusion started with the emergence of shrimp cultivation in the 1980s. He himself made a gate for the sole purpose of entering saline water to ghers in 1983-84. During this time, they would cultivate Bagda shrimp for five months, from Falgun to Asharh in the Garkhali and Kaminibashia area along with Aman paddy and Parshe, Bhetkhi, Tengra and other white fish. During that time, they would release the shrimp fry 3-4 times every 15 days, where there was still water in the month of Magh, i.e. in canals and ditches. As soon as the shrimp was big enough they would harvest it and then release new fry. Over the years, shrimp fry availability has decreased and become increasingly expensive. In general, they have continued this practice of Aman and bagda to this day in Kaminibashia in South Tildanga. One of them (SL#43, 45-46) mentioned that he would also cultivate Bhetki (brackish) as well as Parshe, Tengra and Bele (freshwater) from the end of Poush (December-January) to Bhadro (August-September), i.e. from the dry and saline winter season to the end of the rainy season. This is also a bit odd in the sense that the shrimp farmer mentioned that he cultivates freshwater fish in saline water. Another shrimp farmer (18 bg, SL#45-46) cultivates shrimp from Agrohaeon. Even the Aman paddy consists mostly of saline tolerant varieties such as BRRI 23, 11, 10 – though BRRI 23 is the most commonly cultivated variety. The table below shows a summary of responses of when different crops are cultivated. Though Aman is stated to be cultivated from Asharh to Poush, it is more realistic that a total of 5 months is spent on Aman cultivation, from end of Srabon/Bhadro and harvest in Agrohaeon/Poush, while Bagda is cultivated from Falgun (February) to Asharh as was mentioned by the large shrimp farmer (Moshamari, Nishankhali villages in Tildanga).
Boishak (Apr/ May)
Ashar h (JunJul)
Tildanga Union Pankhali Union Tildanga Union Pankhali Union Tildanga Union Pankhali Union
Table 7 -
The larger shrimp farmers that cultivate from the harvesting of Aman paddy to the start of the rainy season state that they have chosen to cultivate like this as bagda is more profitable than paddy and that paddy yields are less productive after the rainy season. In Moshamari village, the General FGD participants voiced that for them shrimp cultivation is not profitable and that they as medium size landowners have been made worse off for leasing out their lands to shrimp cultivation. “The rich became richer and poor became poorer due to shrimp farming. Overall situation has become worst. Businessmen from outside invest 4/5 lac taka and make maximum profit, but we local people get little compare to them.” (Retired teacher, 74 years, Moshamari) “The middle class people who usually give lease their land are mostly looser. The landless wage labors are better than us. The rich became richer” (Farmer, 52 years, 30 decimals, Moshamari). Since shrimp cultivation and the Green revolution, cropping patterns have changed dramatically. Local paddy varieties have been replaced by high yielding varieties and saline tolerant paddy. “All of these varieties are IRRI, we have no more large grain local varieties.” (General FGD Moshamari) “Our livelihood options are now too narrow to earn. Lots of natural foods have already been disappeared. People’s life expectancy has been reduced.” (Farmer, 3.5 acres, Moshamari) “I used to eat galda/bagda shrimp with fun, these were not sold. Now, these are so valuable that we could not eat it, all are sold in the market.” (Farmer, 5 acre, Moshamari) In the same FGD held in the center east of Polder 31, salinity is only reduced by the rainy season and is the only time for Aman cultivation. They mentioned that if water drainage in the area is improved (BWDB#6, 34, Public#23), they could grow more diversified crops including til (oil), beans and Aus paddy (Kharif I). Yet, soil salinity is seen as a hindrance. It was also mentioned that during the winter many of the Moshamari farmers are growing watermelon, ladies finger and pumpkin. When possible, i.e. there is enough water, they cultivate galda prawn, Horina chingri (small shrimp) and freshwater fish like Ruhi, Katla, Mrihel and Tilapia that grow in ponds. However, among the participants there seemed to be varying perceptions of opportunities. The same 74 year old stating that salinity was making the poor poorer, also mentioned that there is too little water to cultivate fish in Moshamari and paddy is the only option along with fresh water fish. 17
In general it seems that salinity is high in the south of Tildanga, i.e. close to Kaminibashi village and it decreases northwards. In Pankhali union paddy is cultivated from Bhadra to Poush and freshwater fish and prawn (Ruhi, Katla, Parshe and Galda) are cultivated as saline water was stopped in 2009, a similar thing happened in north Tildanga in Moshamari and Botbunia villages. One problem with this cropping system is that salinity during the dry season hampers fresh water availability. There was therefore interest for dry season irrigation for Boro paddy as paddy cultivation is seen as beneficial (Paddy farmer, Botbunia, BWDB#6 and Public#23). One key concern with Bagda shrimp cultivation mentioned is that the shrimp dies in different illnesses that affect small scale farmers. In several of the paddy farmer KIIs it was mentioned that ‘Paddy production is well and profitable’ as a response to the risk of bagda dying of virus. Arguably, the risk of bagda dying of virus helped the Saline Water Prevention movement of 2009 after Aila, where Bagda cultivation and salinity intrusion was stopped in Pankhali union and the Tildanga, Botbunia and Moshamari villages in Tildanga union. It has only remained in the south in Garkhali and Kaminibashia villages where saline water is entered through the Mozamnagar and Garkhali gates. In the LCS FGD it was mentioned that two thirds of the local people are against salinity intrusion and in favor of freshwater fish. For this reason they were able to stop salinity intrusion and have seen increase in livestock, fruit trees, fish diversity and vegetables. In Moukhali General FGD, some respondents argued that since the stop of bagda cultivation, small farmers and landless are now leasing land from wealthy people to cultivate crops. As the price of fertilizer and insecticides has increased, they are now making a loss.
2.2 Irrigation sources
The table below summarizes main crops and irrigation sources. Aman paddy is cultivated through rainwater stored in canals and wetlands. These have now dried over time and have led to poor drainage. Bagda cultivation is irrigated through using canals to let in saline water from the rivers during the dry season. Increasingly, pump machines from saline shallow tubewells are used to irrigate the bagda ghers. This option is seen as expensive as it requires a large amount of fuel that few of the smaller gher cultivators can afford. “Earlier 1000-1200 Bigha land used to combine to cultivate shrimp here. Money did not spend for water in the past. But now lifting water by boring needs to spend huge amount of fuel which expenses lot of money. Many of us cannot arrange this money. That is why the number of gher owners and size of gher is gradually reducing.” (Shrimp farmer, 5 biggha, Moukhali) Galda is difficult to cultivate during the dry season as the water has dried out by that time or turned too saline. Overall, irrigation was seen as a constraint as the canal system has dried up and there is no sufficient amount of water during the dry season.
Crop/ Fish Aman
Variety IRRI-23, BRRI 10, 11
Duration Start transplanting in July-August and harvest during NovemberDecember. Throughout the year
Sweet Pumpkin, Melon, Bitter gourd, Ladies finger N/A
Irrigation No irrigation is required. They use river water to inundate their paddy field. If they use river water, that is irrigation, I think. Limited irrigation.
Domestic use and some parts are sold in the local market Incidence of Bagda cultivation is higher in the south close to hte Mozamnagar and Garkhali gates and in the Kaminibashia area. Elsewhere Bagda cultivation was stopped since 2009. Cultivation in ponds and along with the Aman paddy. for limited selling. Pangash is very profitable. It grows really fast within 4-5 months Some villagers own ‘pocket gher’ in this polder which is used to cultivate those brackish water fishes and shrimp. Mostly in Pankhali, soil salinity is still high in Tildanga.
During the dry season when water starts becoming brackish
After two and half month shrimp fries are ready for harvesting
Shallow tube well is used to provide brackish water at a regular basis. For example, boring to irrigate ‘Bagda’ ghers.
7 to 9 months
Fresh water Pond
Fresh Water Fish Partly Brackish Fish
Ruhi, Pungash, Silver Carp, Talapia, Grass Carp Tangra, Bhetki, etc
Asharh to Poush
Fresh water Pond
Asharh to Poush
Canal/ Gher/ Pond
Pumpkin, tomato, eggplant
Throughout the year Table 8 -
Cropping patterns and farming systems
In Pankhali Union, freshwater fish are cultivated during the rainy season along with Aman, several of the woman LCS respondents in Khatail village (SL#19) mentioned how they would cultivate freshwater prawn (Galda) along with fish such as Rui in ponds. One respondent mentioned that she can sell 1-1.5 kg Galda at the rate of BDT 1000 per kg and earn double of what she invests. According to the women, everyone in their area cultivates paddy with Galda prawn and white fish. In Khona village, Pankhali (BWDB#2-5), it was mentioned that fish were available in abundance prior to the embankment as fish would enter the wetlands through the high tide and breed in the internal canals and breed inside the austomashi bands (eight month temporary embankments). After the construction of the BWDB polder, the natural breeding ground of these fish has been destroyed and has been further exacerbated by the perceived mismanagement of canals and sluice gates (Khona General FGD, Pankhali). This problem of natural fisheries declining was also mentioned in the Moshamari village General FGD (BWDB#6, 23) in Tildanga, where Bhetki, Parshe and Galda would breed in the wild and have now been replaced by fishes that are cultivated such as Tengra, Magur (catfish), Shoail (striped snakehead) and Koi. In the 1980s, Bagda was cultivate through people draining in salne water via the river or through ‘boring’ (tubewells and pump machines) (LCS FGD, Khatail, Pankhali). Increased salinity was also seen as a cause for many fish species disappearing, and now reappearing after bagda was stopped in 2009 (Moshamari General FGD). 19
However, it was also added that they are unable to sustain this development as many of the canals have silted up. As such, they have been forced to cultivate fish rather than catch fish that breed naturally.
Prior to the construction of the polder, it was stated that there were few numbers of livestock such as cows and goats, as salinity prevented grass from growing. In the early years of the polder, it was mentioned that cattle increased as grass became available. In Moshamari General FGD it was mentioned that each household was able to produce 5-10 kg of milk to sell, others would rear cows that they would sell. After the practice of leasing land for shrimp cultivation, grass availability was again reduced – limiting the number of livestock. The Shushilan team observed that there was little grass in the area and only few cattle of poor health. The KII with a paddy farmer in Botbunia village, Tildanga Union (BWDB#6, Public #23), further emphasized how he used to have several cattle until the 1990s and the emergency of shrimp cultivation and salinity intrusion. Even the large shrimp farmer in Kaminibasha, Tildanga Union (65 biggha, BWDB#10-11, 24-25 and Public#16-18) argued that livelihoods and living standards have increased since shrimp cultivation also noted that salinity from ghers is causing food crisis for cattle and led to reduction in livestock rearing. In Pankhali Union, the number of poultry and livestock has increased after shrimp farming was stopped in 2009. This is seen as a positive effect and people can now access milk and ghee (local type of butter) (Moukhali General FGD, Pankhali).
Fruit trees and vegetables
In polder 31 there are several different naturally occurring fruit trees such as coconut, banana, mango and jackfruit. They are slowly growing again in the north of the polder where bagda has been stopped. However, respondents in the south in Tildanga Union complain that there are no other fruit trees except ‘gaoa’. The fruits were both sold and kept for household consumption prior to shrimp cultivation, but have died due to salinity intrusion. The Botbunia paddy farmer (Public#23) stated that no one in that area is interested in shrimp cultivation as it reduced fertility of trees, crops and grazing land for livestock. As a small farmer he felt that shrimp cultivation only benefits large landowners. Overall, in Pankhali union hey have been able to resume some of these food related activities since saline intrusion was stopped, though some villages in Tildanga can still not cultivate vegetables due to soil salinity (LCS woman, Tildanga village, BWDB#6). According the Sub-Assistance Agricultural Officer in Dacope Upazila, the food situation is quite poor in Tildanga. The yields of Sesame (til), lentils and beans (Mug, Motar, Keshari) do not grow well.
Leasing and Migration
Shrimp cultivation entered Polder 31 through the practice of local landowners leasing out their lands to shrimp cultivators. Currently large landowners are leasing out their lands in the Tevaga system where two thirds of the yield remains with the lease taker and one third is given to the land owner. However, due to high costs of fertilizer and pesticides this is seen as financially unfavorable for lease takers. In the Khona FGD, the use of pesticides is seen as contributing to poor health effects in humans and that pesticides were not needed prior to the construction of the embankment. Out migration is seen as an important livelihood strategy for those that cannot afford the Tevaga leasing system and for those facing income shortages during the dry season between January and June.
History of drinking water Prior to the construction of the embankment, reserved ponds were used for drinking water. These include Bipin Dhali’s pond, Kachari pond, Hari Charan Halder’s pond in Tildanga Union and a number of ponds in Pankhali Union. Drinking water was collected from these ponds that have now either been decomposed or contaminated. There is a scarcity of deep tubewells free from arsenic and salinity contamination in the polder; this is particularly a problem in Pankhali Union. Access to drinking water Interestingly, though Kaminibashia is located in the saline and shrimp intensive area of southern Tildanga, a large shrimp farmer (65 biggha, BWDB#10-11, 24-25 and Public#16-18) stated that they have very good access to safe drinking water from deep tubewells “We have no problem related to access of water for irrigation and drinking purpose”. In his opinion, there are deep tubewells in abundance, the ones with arsenic contamination have been closed, there is no problem of iron contamination and they supplement tubewell water with rainwater harvest tanks. Other shrimp farmer KIIs similarly depict a situation where they themselves have access to deep tubewells for drinking water and store rainwater in tanks during the monsoon (Shrimp farmer, BWDB#25, Public#17-18, Shrimp farmer 18 biggha, Public #17-18). However, the pond is saline and used for bathing rather than drinking and most of the tubewells are saline. It seems that water availability is strongly correlated with income and wealth. Most of the shrimp farmers interviewed were well to do and had access both to their own deep tubewells, ponds and rainwater collection tanks. A bit farther north in Botbunia village, a small farmer cultivating paddy (Public#23) mentioned that they drink pond water that is purified through a mineral locally known as ‘Fitkiri’. This they drink themselves and also give to their cattle. The pond water is used for bathing and due to increased salinity in the dry season leads to skin diseases. For him, drinking water from tubewells was not mentioned as an option. In addition, he could not afford a big tank to store rainwater from the monsoon. Similarly, an LCS woman from Botbunia mentioned how she would have to fetch water from a neighboring village half an hour away. In Moshamari village in the same union of Tildanga (BWDB#6, 34, Public#23), the General FGD depicted a more gloomy picture. The water in the deep tubewells there is contaminated with both salinity and iron and they have to fetch water from Garhkhali which is 3-4 km away. The ponds they had previously used for drinking water needs to be excavated, something which is seen as too costly (BDT 11.5 lak). A similar problem of distance was voiced in the Moukhali General FGD in Pankhali, where villagers must spend money on rickshaw fare to bring water from 4 km away. There the government spent BDT 50 000 to install a deep tubewell at 1000 feet but was unable to lift any water. In addition, the Moukhali shallow tubewells (9 out of 10) have been tested positive for arsenic and are extremely saline. The participants mentioned that they would prefer drinking arsenic contaminated water of the one tubewell free from salinity rather than that which is free from arsenic but too saline for drinking. One participant mentioned that it would be good to store rainwater as a source of drinking water. In general, it seems that most of the shallow tubewells in Polder 31 are either contaminated with salinity or high incidence of iron, where deep tubewells may often be arsenic contaminated. Poorer respondents mentioned deep tubewell installation as very expensive and as such the coverage of deep tubewells is scarce. It was a complaint especially in around Public Sluice gate #23 and BWDB Sluice gates #5 and 6 that there is a scarcity of drinking water where the shallow tubewells are too saline and they are bound to both cook and bathe in such water. This comprises the area where Tildanga and Pankhali Union meet in the east (Khona, Khatail, Tildanga and Botbunia villages). 21
The general suggestion was to increase the availability of fresh water. This includes excavation of large size ponds and re-excavation of canals for various uses of water. In addition, for drinking water each household should be provided a rainwater collection tank, while deep tubewells should be installed for each twenty household. Some also suggested that a large reserve tank is constructed and that water is supplied from this reservoir via pipelines.
3. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF POLDER 31
3.1. Condition of the embankment
The length of the embankment is said to be approximately 45-47 km. Even if the general condition can be considered as relatively good, the embankment suffers from river erosion and pipes that weaken the structure as a whole. River Erosion Several segments of the embankment have been identified as damaged and weak. In Moukhali in the north there are three informal pipes and one BWDB sluice gate. Both the gate and the embankment are at risk due to river erosion, where water pressure is increasing. In the east bordering Pankhali and Tildanga unions, all the respondents in Khona, Khatail, Moshamari, Tildanga and Botbunia villages mentioned problems of river erosion, where the embankment was seen as too low and in need of repairs. ‘The embankment can be fully damaged at any time. We are at risk.” (Khona General FGD). It was also noted that flushing and draining water made the embankment more vulnerable due to ensuing soil erosion at the sides of gates. Frequent river erosion and damages caused each monsoon are seen as key reasons to why the embankment is becoming both lower and weaker “WAPDA [BWDB] embankment was double in 1960 than now”. Similarly, river erosion damages the embankment in the south of the polder in Kaminibashia and Nishankhali villages. Overall, river erosion and cyclones/tidal surges were seen as main water related problems.
Pipes There are several informal structures such as pipes and non-BWDB authorized sluice gates in Polder 31. There are currently more than seven large pipes in Polder 31, where Pipe#4 is locally called Baintola sluice. Several cuts have been made by the ‘public’, or local people. In Khona village it was mentioned that though BWDB does not give permission for them, they overlook the installation for these pipes if bribed. In Pankhali Union pipes have been a after Aila and the Saline Prevention movement in 2009, the majority of cuts are therefore concentrated in south Tildanga, particularly in Garkhali and Kaminibashia villages. The overall perception throughout the polder was that these illegal pipes weaken the embankment. Even a large shrimp farmer (65 biggha) stated that pipes are illegal and he cannot support it, adding that such pipes are hurting his own ghers. Whether or not this is his actual conviction may be debatable, nevertheless this position indicates that there is no formal acceptance of pipes due to their effect on the embankment and increasing vulnerability during disasters. Lack of regular maintenance The lack of maintenance is argued to be the reason for the vulnerability of the embankment. In Khona FGD it was mentioned that 12-15 years earlier (i.e. under the khalashi system and prior to the restructuring of BWDB), the embankment was raised 1-1.5 feet with earth every year and made strong. “Due to this [regular maintenance] the risk of damage to the embankment would decrease. As BWDB does not work now, the embankment is becoming weak”. The mentioned problems of reoccurring and frequent river erosion further adds to this and in all FGDs and KIIs there were complaints about the embankment being weak and needing repair. This would include raising the embankment and maintaining the height, approximately 5 to 7 feet of its existing height. The LCS group in Tildanga suggested that it is made stronger with cement and that trees are planted at the side of the embankment – with LCS working on both repairs and tree plantation. Others suggested that the embankment is also widened and that concrete blocks are used where water pressure is high (large shrimp farmer 65 biggha, Kaminibashia). Cement was seen as more resilient than mud that quickly erodes. Emergency The cyclone Aila hit polder 31 in 2009. At this time, illegal pipes were constructed close to the embankment sides and bagda was cultivated by draining in saline water. This was particularly prominent in Tildanga where the embankment in Garkhali was already damaged due to several cuts. Due to these illegal pipes, the embankments became weak and collapsed during the cyclone, causing damage to lives and property. During this time, the Union Parishad Chairmans and Members in both Pankhali and Tildanga Unions used loudspeakers from the mosque to organize local people to work together to immediately repair the embankment. They also provided food (flattened rice ‘chira’, fried rice ‘muri’ and rice). The Union Parishad managed an emergency budget to compensate those who provided labour. NGOs such as Prodipan, IWO and BRAC gave disaster relief through clothes and food (lentils, rice). No Water Management Committee (block or polder level) provided any assistance. In Pankhali union, this destruction acted as a catalyst and contributed to a shift away from ghers. The informal infrastructures created by ghers were seen as direct causes do why the embankment collapsed and might have provided public support. In that sense, once a trauma occurs, people are able to change where Aila, at least in Pankhali, provided a window of opportunity.
3.2. Condition of Sluice gates
Condition Good BWDB Public Tildanga Union Tildanga Union 6-10, 12-14, 16-22, 24- 1-3, 6-8, 15-17, 19-21 31, 33-34 Pankhali Union Pankhali Union2 9, 13, 14, 23 1-5, 35-37 South Tildanga 5, 10, 18, 22, 24 Pankhali Union 12 (Gosher khali) 4 (Bullar),
List of Sluice gates
Comment Overall condition of both public and BWDB gates seen as good by IWM.
Broken/damaged Tildanga Union 11 (Teltola), 15 (Kaminibashia), 23 (Kata khal), 32 (Kakrabunia) Inactive/closed N/A
Table 9 -
There are relatively more damaged gates with public (informal) gates than the BWDB
Three kinds of sluice gates can be found in the polder 31: old sluice gates constructed in the same time as the polder in the 1960s and sluice gates constructed under the Third Fisheries project (1990s) and Fourth Fisheries (2000s). These two gates are classified as BWDB gates in the IWM map. The third type is listed as ‘Public’ gates. These are often informal gates that may either be private (i.e. belonging to an individual) or public (used by several people, often groups of shrimp farmers). In general, private gates are more common as they were created to drain in saline water for ghers. Of the different types of gates, BWDB gates were the most favored and seen to be in overall good condition – it was also mentioned that the old design of BWDB was more stable and stronger than the FFP ones. In the FGD with a water management group in Tildanga UP, it was noted that they perceive half of the gates to be in good condition and the other half to be in poor condition. By good they mean that the gates are active and suitable for draining and flushing water. Poor condition usually refers to gates where drainage and flushing are impeded. The structure of the gates is often weakened by strong water pressure and several repeated repairs. Some of the problems are elaborated below. First, the problems of the sluice gates are related to their design or to the inadequacy between their design and the evolution of the natural conditions. The BWDB gates are made by iron shutters and are seen as sustainable and functioning well. However, both the Third and Fourth Fisheries projects made gates with wooden shutters, so did the people who installed private gates. Wooden shutters are seen as decomposing quickly and requiring repairs every year. Such repairs are seen as expensive and in the Moshamari FGD there was a strong demand for iron shutters. Overall, there was a strong sense of dissatisfaction with wooden shutters and iron/steel sheets are more preferred. It is not clear why these local suggestions were not incorporated into project design. Second, gates are not serving the purposes for which they were constructed. Instead drainage is not happening properly and silt is deposited close to the gates. According to BWDB SO in Dacope/Khulna, this is due to flawed design by the gher owners who installed the public sluice gates. It should also be noted that the TTP and FFP gates are listed as BWDB gates in the IWM maps (see Bhadra and Kalibari sluices), where the Kalibari gate was created by FFP. The respondents in Moshamari stated that there are no private gates in their area. In Moukhali it was mentioned that the Bottola (Public#9), Thakuronbari (Pipe#3) and Baintola gates (Pipe #4) are personal gates that are in good condition. In general the public gates in Pankhali union were installed after shrimp cultivation started in 1986 and were then closed since 2009. However, in the Khona General
Numbers based on latest IWM maps in September, v3
FGD it was mentioned that there is still a private gate belonging to Mr Abul Hossain, though it is listed as BWDB#13 in the IWM map. Informal gates are seen as weak, risky and contributing to large scale damages as happened in Aila. A frustration over the perceived corruption of BWDB in overlooking these informal structures was voiced in most FGDs and KIIs. Overall, there is little public support for informal structures after Aila 2009. In addition, public gates were seen to not follow BWDB design and therefore perform worse over time. It was argued that due to the high cost of following BWDB designs (BDT 5 000 000 was mentioned, but likely over exaggeration), the people constructing the informal gates would disregard the rules and the approved design. Another version was that at the time these personal gates were constructed, the gher/landowners were not informed about these rules. In Tildanga union, the use of private gates is still common. Fakirabad and Shotobalia sluices (Public #17-18) belongs to a shrimp farmer owning 100-150 biggha land in Kaminibashia and were installed with the ‘permission’ of the BWDB (KII with large shrimp farmer, Kaminibashia). More and more, informal gates are being closed, while at the same time, the construction of BWDB gates is seen as too expensive. In general, participants want additional gates, in a new design following BWDB rules and regulation as to avoid weakening the embankment. This would include gates with steel/iron shutters, operation mechanisms that require minimal manpower (wheel), while a suggestion in the Kaminibashia FGD was to construct 8-10 additional gates.
3.3. Condition of Canals: siltation and leasing issues
In this polder when people speak of canals this is to evoke one of these two main concerns: siltation or leasing. 3.3.1. Siltation The total number of active canals is estimated at 24 in this polder, while there are 2-3 canals that are ‘closed’, i.e. fully ‘dead’ or dried up (KII BWDB Section Officer). But for most of them, the khal has become narrow, the side has broken and the depth is reduced. Once wide canals have now reduced to two feet wide in some instances, where even the Bhadra River is now referred to as the Morabhadra (dead bhadra) and has become more of a canal than a river. Siltation is a main concern, commonly spread over the majority of canals across the entire polder. Consequently the list of the silted canal is extensive. Few of them are listed in the table below. Both Pankhali and Tildanga suffer from silted canals, where canals such as Baintola, Chotochara, Thakuronbaria, Banshtola, Pankhali, Halderkhali, Khona and Khatakali are only but a few of many silted canals. Some have silted to the extent that they have become fully filled. If some water can be found in this canal in rainy season, in dry season it is dry. Silted canals lead to less water retention and cannot grow crops or allow for natural fisheries. Paddy cultivation is especially difficult if the canal is silted. If siltation holds some advantages for the few farmers recovering the land silted, for most of the farmers siltation means irrigation or drainage problems.
Condition Good: Active less silt
Name of Khal Tildanga Union Kalibari, Garhibunia, Charpora
Poor: Active and Silted
Pankhali Union Katakhali khal, Mou, Duania, Kadamtoli Tildanga Union It has been noted that most of the Banshtola, Baintola, Orabuni, Konar khal, canals are about to be filled up with Chotochara silt. Pankhali Union Baintola, Khona, Khatakali, Pankhali, Halderkhali, Sharok kata, Thakuronbari, Dashmanober
Comment There are an abundance of canals in Pankhali. Those active tend to have been recently excavated or much larger and wider in the past.
Poor: Dried up
Tildanga Union Chandibari, Bashtola, Baintola, Orabuni Pankhali Union Dublir, Koilasher, Boilasher
Table 10 -
In several instances it has been mentioned that many of the canals have either dried up or been filled with mud and silt.
List of selected canals
The principal reason for filling-up of the canals is the natural process of siltation. However, as was mentioned before, river erosion is a frequent phenomenon. The erosion leads to extra sedimentation that has been seen to deposit in the canals and on canal beds, leasing to a gradual filling up of the canals. In addition, salinity intrusion for ghers has also been mentioned as a factor to the increasing inactiveness of the canals. Though the physical nature of this has not been elaborated on, it may be related to the private leases of canals associated with shrimp cultivation where canals are used for private purposes and often obstructing maintenance and excavation. Villagers are aware that re-excavation is the easiest way to solve this problem of siltation. The canals were mainly excavated during the TTP and FFP, where NGOs such as Shushilan and WorldVision would lead the work. However, without projects excavations are rare. Though the Pankhali Union Parishad has been active in excavated some parts of selected canals. Only silted canals are excavated, while the filled up once are not. 3.3.2. Leasing There seems to be a correlation between the silted canal system and the widespread system of canal leasing in polder 31. All of the FGDs and KIIs conducted indicate that leasing of canals create serious problems for proper water management, i.e. access to water. There are several categories of leasing, some may be legal through leases from a government office (Ministry of Land, District Commissioner or Upazila Nirbahi Office) and others illegal through force. The threshold between legal and illegal is difficult to identify as the addition the leasing sources may vary and conflict, while the process of acquiring a lease may not be transparent. Bribes and collusion with government agencies have been mentioned, as well as taking control of the canal by influential political elites. Some canals are officially khas canals that have been taken over by influential elites. Khas canals entails that they can be used by poor and landless for fisheries. Once a private individual takes over a canal they do now allow others to fish from there as was e.g. mentioned in Nishankhali village, south Tildanga Union. In Moshamari village it was common that the people taking over khas canals not only prevents access, but also gradually fill up the canals so that they can increase their landholding. When Shushilan excavated some parts of Moshamari khal, lease holders, or those that took control over it, filled it up again after re-excavation. 26
This is only one of many examples of how private use of canals tends to hinder maintenance, increase siltation of canals and hinder access to fisheries for landless. Leased by private individual Tildanga Union Choto Chara, Orabuni Goldher Many of the leased canals are also canals that have been described as silted or dried up. Several leased canals are being filled up Pankhali Union by the leaseholders and they do not allow Dublir, Duaniar, Koilasher, Kadamtolar, Baintola, for re-excavation Morabhadra, Moukhali, Goraria, Dashrani, Maitraya Tildanga Union Only in the Moshamari FGD was this Chandibari, Moshamari, Choto Charah, Boro Chara mentioned. Moshamari Not clear what role the UP plays for these khas canals.
Table 11 Leased and public canals
Reserved by Union Parishad Khas (public/ government)
The leasing system and canal ownership structure is complicated as there are many overlapping canals, regulators and mouzas involved. In Pankhali a majority of canals are in private control in one way or another. According to the Union Parishad Chairman of Pankhali, a zamindar held the legal rights to all the canals in Moukhali mouza. As he was the recorded owner he sold all the canals, despite it being said that ‘these canals should be open for the movement of the inhabitants of the union’. Those who bought the canals have then slowly been filling up the canals (KII, UPC Pankhali). Though the Government of Bangladesh has planned to allocate several canals as khas canals to poor people (including Duaniar,Brinal Khal, Goriar Khal, Morabhadra khal, Moukhali etc), influential elites have been able to use political contacts to obtain canals in their own names. As a result, less productive canals unsuitable for paddy cultivation have been named ‘khas khals’ while the canals intended for public use are gradually being filled up by leaseholders. In Khona villages, the Dashrani and Maitrya canals have been leased out from the Land office by wealthy influential elites. As such, local people must request permission from the leaseholders to obtain water, while drainage has become disturbed. In the General FGD in Kaminibashia, a large gher owner (100 biggha, Garkhali village) argued that general people can drain and flush water according to their requirements. These canals are controlled by the Member of Parliament who has taken a ’99 year lease’ from the Deputy Commissioner and then subleases it to a large gher owner (Mr H. 1500 biggha) and other gher owners. Arguably, this may mean that the large shrimp owners in southern Tildanga are getting water as they need. In Tildanga village, these leases from the Land office are negatively looked upon as the leaseholders have captured Choto Chara, Orabuni and Goldher khals for their own benefit. The canals cannot be used by the general public and drainage is impeded by small mud embankments/blockades, while re-excavation cannot take place in the private canals. Similar problems were noted for Moukhali and Khona villages in Pankhali Union and Kaminibashia village in Tildanga Union. Water can only be taken from canals not under private control. “Some canals are possessed by powerful peoples through corruption. They use these canals as they wish. We cannot excavate, repair canals or maintain water drainage. In this privately possessed canals cannot retain water. So there is no way to cultivate. So no one wants to take risks of cultivating paddy or other crops.”/ General FGD Khona village “We do not gate water from the public sluice gates (#17 and #18) that are under the control of Mr L. There is no way to drain in water. I do not know whether others get or not. Mr. L has a personally excavated khal here. We get water from government khal.” Large shrimp farmer (Kaminibashia village). Leasing hampers the natural flow of water and has in many instances led to inequitable water access, drainage problems and the filling up of canals. This is discussed more in Section 10 Conflicts. 27
Main water-related problems
From the previous descriptions of the infrastructure, several main concerns can be identified. First, the embankment condition is weak in several segments and the maintenance work is not done on a regular basis. River erosion has been identified as the key factor in weakening the embankment. This has been exacerbated by the existence of pipes and informal gates that do not follow BWDB engineering design. Secondly, though BWDB sluice gates are seen to be in relatively good condition, the sluice gates with wooden shutters are seen as too costly in terms of repairs and should be replaced with iron/steel shutters. The informal gates are currently being closed, yet new gates following BWDB design are not being built at the rate that may replace them. As such, drainage is impeded. Third, siltation of the gates and of the canals is a major concern and is due both to natural deposits and river erosion. Fourth leasing, legal or illegal obstructs the access to the canals considered as public goods in the polder and has led to the canals gradually being filled and thus ‘dying’.
4. FOURTH FISHERIES AND WATER MANAGEMENT GROUPS
4.1. Formation of Community Based Organisations
The Fourth Fisheries Project (FFP) was funded by the World Bank and started in 1999/2000 and finished in 2006. It was concentrated primarily in Tildanga Union Parishad and succeeded the Third Fisheries Project. It was initiated by the Department of Fisheries and local NGOs, where MASHUK and Shushilan were mentioned. Thirteen Community Based Organisations (Block Committees), or Water Management Committees were created and coordinated under an overarching Polder Committee (equivalent to a Water Management Association). Some respondents mentioned that the WMCs were created in 2003 and others that they were created in 2006 and that the FFP activities finished in 2008. Each block committee (WMC), had to register with the BWDB and take permission to be active from the BWDB through a non-judicial BDT 150 stamp. It seems that the block committees are based on Union Parishad wards were each UP ward Member became the president of the block committee. Each ward consists of several wards. However, in the KII with the UPM in Botbunia, he mentioned that he knows about a committee in Botbunia that was created 4-5 years ago (2007-8), but does not know whether or not it is still working. Since he is not affiliated with it, the practice of UPM as block president may have declined over time. The FGD with a WMC in Tildanga was held with the very same Botbunia WMC – though it is not clear if it also contained the executive committee of the Polder Committee (Block Committee). According to the Water Management Committee in Botbunia and BWDB Section Officer, the BWDB officials played a significant role in coordinating between FFP and communities to create these 13 water management committees. Respondents mentioned that there were 250 members at the onset and then grew to 2000-3000 members in total throughout the project area. Each member paid for a BDT 100 share and then BDT 10 per month compulsory deposit. Approximately 2-3 lakh had been despoited at the bank. The main aim of the project was to combine Bagda and rice cultivation and to construct over 20 new gates for this purpose.
WMOs and ability to influence design When asked whether the FFP authorities consulted with them before the project, the Botbunia WMCA also mentioned that they do know whether their ideas and opinions were incorporated in the final project design. However, they felt that the entire area was benefitted by FFP through increased incomes and improved livelihoods. ‘We can send out children to Dhaka and Khulna’. However, it had also been noted that though iron shutters had been demanded for the sluice gates and a wish that the FFP gates are similar to the stronger and older BWDB gates, wooden shutters and smaller gates had been constructed during FFP (Moshamari FGD). The WMC chairman in Chalna further mentioned that though the executive committee would meet and discuss activities such as Golpata tree plantation to counter salinity and soil erosion, it was the FFP engineering team that would prepare all the physical infrastructure plans. It seems that the ‘participation’ in design was mostly limited to the executive committee of the Polder committee. In the Moshamari FGD it was stated (in consensus) “Nobody values our opinion at all. Even, we are no more being informed about any development activities in our area”. The process of project and budget preparation, site selection etc was not discussed with local people. In Pankhali, such an approach never took place due to the absence of a formal project like FFP. After the completion of FFP, the coordination between local people and BWDB has disappeared. “As there is no project presently, no meeting is organized.” Currently, the BWDB works directly with contractors without engaging with local people. It was further mentioned in several of FGDs that government official misuse their duties, mostly in the sense of bribes related to pipes and construction contracts. As such, the Kaminibashia FGD emphasized that neither BWDB/UNO or UP encourage community participation in water management. Information on activities are rarely shared. Membership It is not clear how membership has changed since the start of FFP to today. Some respondents argue that there were more than 2000 members (2100-3300).Others say that there were 200 members in the polder committee. According to the WMC in Botbunia, the membership has increased from 2700 in 2003 to 3100-3300 in 2011. None of these numbers have been able to be verified. It seems that there are 200 members per ward (block) and 9 wards, making it likely that there would be no more than 1800 members throughout the FFP project area in Tildanga. It was stated that all anyone can be a member as long as they pay a one off membership deposit (BDT50 to 100 taka per share) and 10 taka monthly. According to the Botbunia WMC, all classes of people are included in the committee as ‘everyone wants to be a member of this committee’. Yet at the same time they mention that only people with land or shrimp farming are members of the committees. A majority of the members are shrimp farmers or brackish fish farmers (43% and 12%) while only a minority are paddy farmers and freshwater fish farmers (10% and 9%). It was further mentioned that 18% are landless and that one third of the members are women. Both large shrimp farmers and the paddy farmer in Tildanga villages stated that they were members of block committees/gate committees. The Botbunia WMC claimed that there are 3 women members in each 12 member block committee, yet it seems that they are not informed about meetings. Within the very same FGD, they contradicted themselves by saying that there are no women representatives in the executive committees as they were not elected in the election, the same goes for landless representatives in the executive and general committees. The participants of the FGD were a majority of businessmen owning more than 20 biggha (stated) and one doctor. The WMC Chairman interviewed in Chalna was not a participant. Overall, there was not a single woman, landless or small farmer or paddy farmer in the water management committee. According to the Shrimp farmer in Kaminibashia, people are not interested in joining the WMCs after the High Court’s ruling banning saline intrusion. As such, one could argue that the FFP block committees 29
mostly consist of shrimp farmers. It also seems that interest in the WMC is decreasing over time, where the local UP member and influential elites control water management according to their own interests (WMC Botbunia). Elections and Representativeness There have been different Chairmen over time that were elected through elections. Mr H B is currently the Chairperson with Mr N B as the secretary. It was stated that 1800 members voted for Mr H B as Chairperson four years ago, prior to him, Mr MB was the Chairperson (the WMC Chairperson interviewed in Chalna). Mr H B is a large shrimp farmer who was said to own more than 1500 biggha of gher in Tildanga Union. Mr MB is an advocate who works with legal issues. Arguably, both of these Chairmen are people with influence and standing in the community, though it is not clear how the Advocate is related to water management, or whether the interests of a large-scale shrimp farmer may match those of smaller farmers or freshwater interests. Training The main source on training received during FFP was given by the WMC in Botbunia. It was stated that the BWDB Section Officer provided information on rules and regulation on water management. They also received training on rice and fish cultivation, savings, gender, role of agriculture for livelihoods, citizenship rights, maintenance of ghers, operation of gates and emergency response training. All the members of block committees and the executive committee received training. The duration would be between 1 to 7 days for each training sessions. The Kaminibashia FGD further mentioned that they received training on shrimp cultivation by the Department of Fisheries and the Union Parishad whereby they later received formal licenses to operate shrimp ghers. Despite all of these trainings, te BWDB SO mentioned that the WMC does not how to manage the flushing sluice gates and the rubber seals that help operate the gate. Subcommittees Each block committee would consist of several different sub-committees, such as gate operation, maintenance and collection of membership subscription fees. Currently, the gate committees seem to be most active. According to the Paddy farmer in Tildanga, each gate has its own committee where there are 3 members per gate. No mention was given to the activity of collecting subscriptions and maintenance in relation to the block committee sub-committees. It was only mentioned that money used to be collected each month, notice the past tense. It is not evident that this practice has been continued. Nor is it clear whether or not the block committees were registered cooperatives, only that they had a bank account where they would place the savings. It is not clear what these savings have been used for. Post-project summary After the project ended, the activities of the block committees and polder committees seem to have declined, along with the interactions between the local communities and the BWDB. BWDB is seen as not consulting local communities, but rather using outside contractors and doing their work in a top down manner though the perception of BWDB during FFP was seen as overall positive. None of the FGDs mentioned that block committees were active rather than the paddy and shrimp farmers engages in local gate committees. It seems that these sub-committees are now acting independent of active block committees. The block committees themselves seem to suffer from declining membership and collection of subscriptions, this seem to be due to three main factors 1) lack of project funds and activities; 2) capture of the WMCs for influential elites and 3) High court ruling against shrimp prevention. The WMCs seem to have generally been targeting shrimp farmers and may have not tried to incorporate all the differing interests in the area, as was also voiced by a former FFP implementer.
Suggestions Overall, a demand for more transparency and involvement of all types of people were requested by different respondents – this may reflect a perception that FFP included some groups while it excluded others. This is a list of direct quotations that may illustrate this. “Projects should be implemented with public opinion, the implementing agencies should inform mass people about the project activities”/Moshamari General FGD “BWDB needs to discuss with the local people about the problem of khals & their protection. Need monitoring from month to month”/WMC Botbunia FGD “Peoples’ participation should be ensured. Peoples from every strata of this society will participate.”/ Khona General FGD “Usefulness is that if local people participate, there is less scope of social conflict. As they are the inhabitants of this area, so they can understand well where and which types of activities should be conducted”. /WMC Chairman, Chalna (Mr M B) The response from Khona, Pankhali Union also reflects the problem with the FFP being limited to Tildanga union, when Khona village shares canals and gates with Botbunia and Tildanga villages in Tildanga union. In Kaminibashia FGD in the south, it was further emphasized that that the Union Parishad is accountable to the people and easy to communicate with, while it is also a stable and continuous presence. “We become tired by calling “sir, sir” to SO. NGOs may not continue all the time, but UP will remain. If member does not pay proper attention to us, he will get the proper result in next election.” They suggested that they could form a citizen watch committee to pressurize the Union Parishad for their demands that can ensure active involvement of the UP and early and transparent implementation of projects.
5. LABOUR CONTRACTING SOCIETIES
5.1. Formation and Project
Two Labor Contracting Societies were interviewed in Polder 31, one in Khatail village, Pankhali union and the other in Tildanga village, Tildanga union. The Khatail LCS was formed in June 2009 under the Union Parishad 40 day work order and the Tildanga LCS in 2010 under the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED). The workers were selected through a lottery system by the LGED Community Organizer. The system is based on the Union Parishad selecting a list of poor and disadvantaged women and then through lottery selecting the women for the LCS. In Khatail 9 LCS members were selected from a total of 4 wards in Pankhali. Each woman is signed for three years. However, there are not enough LCS spaces as there is need. Out of 500-600 people in a ward, 40 people may be selected, out of which 10 people are male and 15 are female (LCS Khatail FGD). In the Tildanga LCS, only 7 women are members, while the Pankhali LCS has 9 woman members. In the Khatail LCS all the participants listed themselves as daylaborers. They either owned less than 9 shotok (though median is 5 shotok) or lived on their fathers land as they did not own any of their own. In the Tildanga LCS, most of the women were married, with only one widow. 10 katha was the maximum amount of land owned.
Payment The LCS members get a wage of BDT 120 per day that is paid monthly in the third week of each month. The total monthly salary is BDT 3600, and only BDT 2200 is paid out where the rest is taken as saving to be paid out after the end of 3 years. Both LCS groups receive their wages through the LGED Community organizers via check that they withdraw from the Krishi Bank with their signatures. The payments are generally seen as timely, though there were some delays from 1-2 weeks occasionally. Work Condition The LCS do not receive any breaks on Fridays though they do have the right to enjoy religious holidays (e.g. Eid, Kali Puja, Durga Puja etc.) and 4 weeks paid holiday per year. There were no problems related to safety or sanitation reported. Both groups were happy with their current work conditions and did not face any major problems. However, in the KII with the woman-headed household in Nishankhali, she pointed out a wage difference between LCS males and females where men would be paid twice the amount to women. She suggested equal pay rates independent of gender. Inclusion in Water Management Committees None of the women in the two LCS groups were members of any water management organization. “There are no landless people at the committee. We are poor, that’s why they do not involve us” (LCS Khatail). It was also mentioned that though khas land is formally being allocated to landless, they are not getting any of this, stating that those with better linkages to influential elites are able to obtain the rights to khas lands. Training Neither of the groups received any training related to earthworks or their work for LGED. Some of the women in Khatail LCS received training on Sanitation from World Vision NGO. The LCS Tildanga had not participated in any training.
5.2. LCS livelihood
Improvements after joining LCS The overall impression from both FGDs is that all LCS women feel that they have been benefitted from the incomes obtained from LCS work. Benefits include financial solvency and independence that they have been able to use for their children’s education (fees, material and uniforms) as well as the ability to buy more food and even invest in income generating activities such as rearing poultry. One participant mentioned how due to this employment she can much easier borrow money as the lenders know she can repay once her wage has been paid. “Suppose I walk beside a person and at that time he/she thinks I go to him/her for borrowing money, he/she just hided. But now they do not do this. Now they tell us to sit while we go to them. Even we can borrow money from them”. Cultivation and water sources Some of the LCS respondents did not have their own land but stayed with their in-laws. The one’s that mentioned cultivation were often married and lived with their husbands. They cultivate galda and white fish in ponds (Rui), though previously the LCS Khatail Chairperson and her husband had cultivated Bagda prior to Aila in 2009. Vegetables such as Mishti Kumra (Pumpkin), Tomato, Potato, Brinjal are cultivated in homesteads and irrigated with pond water. Only Aman paddy is cultivated, but this is done through leasing out land to leaseholders in Khulna (LCS, Khatail). In Tildanga, it was mentioned that vegetables do not grow well due to soil salinity, but that they are slowly cultivating vegetables. 32
Most important use of water Drinking water was seen as the most important use of water for all respondents. In both Pankhali and Tildanga this was seen as a great problem. The LCS in Khatail mentioned how they would by a 2.5 litre water jar for 20 taka from Chalna 3 km away as there was no safe water near them. All of the women mentioned how they would pay a machine van driver to fetch water for them (20 taka). For those that cannot afford that they have to fetch water by foot after they have finished work at 4 pm. Another alternative was to store rainwater from the roof in mud (earthen) jars, where they cover the roof in plastic sheets. In Tildanga, the situation was worse and the women mentioned how they would bring water from the river in pitchers. The available shallow tubewells are undrinkable due to salinity and good quality water is located 3 miles away.
5.3. Governance and water management
Accessible institution for complaints and problems Both LCS groups contact the Union Parishad Chairman and Member in their respective Unions for any issues they may have. Their main concern is installation of deep tubewells for safe drinking water, as well as employment through LCS. The UP is seen as not listening to their requests on deep tubewells or to provide them relief aid and ignoring them because they are poor in both Pankhali and Tildanga groups. “Nobody listen to poor people. It is useless to go to the Chairman and member” (LCS Tildanga FGD). However, the Tildanga FGD further mentioned that though the UP did install a tubewell it was not able to lift water. In Tildanga, the LCS women were more positively inclined towards NGOs who they saw as more responsive in times of disaster and less corrupt than ‘the government’, with the Union Parishad officials particularly in mind. Aila was used as a particular example where the relief from NGOs was seen as saving thousands of lives. Concerns and Suggestions Technical It was suggested that the embankment should be made higher and wider. In particular the idea of cement slopes in each side of the embankment was suggested as these would not erode as quickly as mud slopes. Canals should be excavated so that they are deeper and hold more freshwater for paddy and vegetable cultivation. Trees should be planted next to the embankment to keep it safe from tidal surges. Boxes with bamboo poles should be places outside the embankment to protect it from river erosion. If placed beside cracks in the embankment, chars can be developed slowly. A pipeline should be installed from Borkhali to Tildanga village for drinking water purposes. Institutional Many of these technical solutions were followed by an emphasis that they should be done through LCS labor. It was consistently mentioned that the Union Parishad’s role should be increased, while adding that if the UP is allocated project funds, their employment opportunities as local people will increase. ‘All government grants come through the Union Parishad’. Maintenance from BWDB was suggested to use UPs to organize LCS, though the presence of LGED staff to supervise LCS was also seen as favorably. This may arguable be due to the lack of problems associated with working for LGED to date. All of the LCS workers seemed to agree that a permanent contract would be more beneficial than three year contracts as they will not be able to renew their contracts. They were also positive to having the Union Parishad implement new activities through NGOs that would supervise the work. One woman further 33
mentioned that she would require agricultural training on paddy cultivation, as this knowledge has usually been kept by men. Both LCS groups were positive to the fact that salinity intrusion has stopped as they now can rear livestock and their livelihoods had improved. They said in unison that they want the salinity intrusion to be stopped indefinitely.
6. MAINTENANCE OF EMBANKMENTS, CANALS AND SLUICE GATES
6.1 Maintenance by BWDB
Polder 31 is a BWDB polder where the main responsibility for maintenance lies with this implementing agency. According to the Union Parishad Chairman of Pankhali Union, the BWDB Section Officer regularly visits the embankment and the UP contacts him regarding any problem. For instance, when a shutter was missing on a gate, the UP Chairman and Member informed the SO who responded accordingly. Similarly, the UP member in Pankhali repaired BWDB SL#1 (Pankhali Sluice, Kholisha khal) that is now seen to be in good condition. However, in the General FGDs some negative perceptions of BWDB arose, one is that the BWDB has become less active than in previous years, the other is that it is tendering out maintenance activities to outside contractors leads to corruption. Examples of how BWDB was more active in khal excavation was frequently mentioned by participants in General FGDs both in Pankhali and Tildanga Unions, when criticizing the BWDB for not re-excavating canals in the polder. “20/25 years earlier WAPDA excavated canals. But now they have no role in canal excavation”/General FGD Khona village, Pankhali. In Moshamari village, it was now mentioned that BWDB has demarcated a boundary area for their maintenance responsibility, stating that they do not hold any responsibility beyond 200 ft upstream from the gate and they do not provide any support after this boundary. In Khona village it was perceived that the BWDB does not maintain the embankment properly as they do not interfere against illegal cuts and gates. In addition, the BWDB through its employed gate operator (khalashi) would ensure regular maintenance of sluice gates. This repair of BWDB gates has now been taken over by the Union Parishad ward members. In Tildanga Union especially, respondents criticized the BWDB use of contractor as a corrupt practice. In Kamininbashia General FGD, for example, it was noted that there is a lot of irregularity and corruption in the work of contractors on the embankment. “Though they were committed to put 2.5 feet earth they are putting only 1-1.5 feet earth”. In this FGD, there were respondents from Garkhali village who emphasized that they cannot make charges against such corruption in fear of the contractor filing false legal cases against them. Similarly, khals are excavated superficially and gates are seen as not repaired properly (Mozamnagar Bazaar gate was given as a specific example). The BWDB Section Officer also complained about the irregularities of the contractor work and the added costs of their incomplete work. The main problem, however, seems to be that there is no regular funding for maintenance. Instead, BWDB must rely on emergency and disaster funding, such as those made available after Aila, or that of a project, such as Fourth Fisheries. “For example, it may necessary to repair certain points of the embankment but required government funds are not available”.
6.2. Maintenance by Union Parishad
In Pankhali Union, the Union Parishad is actively involved in water management, both through drinking water and the maintenance of embankments, gates and canals. They contact BWDB for major repairs of gates and use funds allocated through the Upazila Nirbahi Office to re-excavate canals and ponds and strengthen/pave the roads and embankment. The fund sources include government rural employment schemes such as the 40 day work order, KABHIKA (Food for Work) and KABITA (Cash for work). For obtaining such funding the Union Parishad must follow a manual given by the UNO, where it is stipulated that they must for a local committee and meet to discuss the planned activities with relevant government officials (KII UPM Pankhali). Most of the instructions on how to use such funds come from the Upazila Development Coordination Committee. One problem is that maintenance can only be done through such project funding, there is no particular maintenance fund allocated to the Union Parishad for regular re-excavation or embankment strengthening. “And we, the member and chairman are not so wealthy that we will conduct this work by our own expenses. These gates belong to government and public. So, we will do the work by the fund of public.” (KII UPM Pankhali). To date the Union Parishad Chairman and Members have been active in using these employment schemes to re-excavate canals. In Moukhali and Khatail this was particularly the case, where the NGO Shushilan re-excavated the canal with the UP in Moukhali. In Khona village, however, it was noted that the UP is repairing the embankment but is not excavating the canals and the 40 day workorder funds are seen as insufficient. Nevertheless, in the same FGD it was mentioned that the UP plays a strong role in emergency repair and rainwater harvesting. In general, it was suggested that the role of UP should increase as they contract people locally, usually through forming Labour Contracting Societies, and are also accountable directly to the local people. Tildanga Union Unlike Pankhali Union, Tildanga Union saw the presence of the Fourth Fisheries Project and the creation of block committees and a coordinating polder committee. Arguably, this could have reduced the role of the Union Parishad. Instead, the committees created under the FFP saw strong participation of the Union Parishad official. “As the project was for the local people, the chairman was the president of the committee. He gave the solutions of the problem to the local people. Where there was any kind of fiction regarding water, he protect them. He ensures the supply of water for us by repairing and maintaining the local sluice gate: (FGD WMC Botbunia). Most of the maintenance examples in Tildanga concerned re-excavation of canals through KABHIKA and 40 day work order funds as in Pankhali. Three canals were excavated in Southern Tildanga (General FGD, Kaminibashia), where Shushilan was also involved. One out of three km of Baintola khal, Moshamari khal, Kolatoli khal and Botbunia khal were excavated under the UPM (SL20 Shushilan map). Two to three more canals are further planned to be excavated. However, the KII with the UP Member highlighted the difficulty of excavating private canals as their access is restricted. In Moshamari FGD, there was however frustration with misappropriation of funds, where only 35 out of 40 days were spent on working and ‘rest of the money goes to their pockets’. In addition, the Union Parishad has been active in constructing drainage culverts near Kacharibari khal at the cost of BDT 50 000, repaired the embankment and installed deep tubewells from various project budgets. The normal process is that local people inform the UP Member of their ward, who then 35
discusses with the UP Chairman, who in turn discusses with the UNO that then allocates funds. For urgent repairs, i.e. when the embankment breaks, the Chairman may use his own funds or borrow funds until the government allocated money is returned. According to the UPM, the Union Parishad has spent BDT 20 000 – 50 000 from its own budget on required maintenance, examples include reparations of 3 shutters at the cost of BDT 6000 each. Overall, the UP in Tildanga seems active in using funds allocated from the Upazila for various maintenance activities, though they are unable to re-excavate leased canals.
6.3. Maintenance by Polder Committee and Block committee
During FFP, thirteen block committees and one polder committee were created in Tildanga union for the implementation, monitoring and supervision of the project. In the Guidelines for Participatory Water Management (Ministry of Water Resources), such block committees are referred to as Water Management Groups and the polder committee as Water Management Associations. These WMGs are intended to take over responsibilities for minor maintenance, greasing and repainting sluice gates, removing water hyacinths from canals and share periodic maintenance such as re-excavation of canals and repairing the embankment, while the implementing agency (in this case BWDB) is fully responsible for major maintenance caused by disaster (such as Aila) or new infrastructure (new gates or culverts). In the FFP, the block committees were only active during the duration of the project, where villagers would discuss required water management activities, e.g. which khals need to be re-excavated. After FFP ended, the activities have stopped along with any meeting and all respondents stated that it is fully inactive. Interestingly, the FFP ended around the same time as grassroots movement against salinity intrusion spearheaded by the NGO Nijera Kori (we do it ourselves) and the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyer Association (BELA). According to a shrimp farmer in Kaminibashia, people stopped being active in the block committees when they were no longer allowed to enter saline water. Another shrimp farmer (65 biggha) mentioned that due to the movement, legal cases were filed against many of the previous block committee members, contributing to the lack of activity of the committees. Participants in the Botbunia block committee did not mention these things. Rather, they stated that committees have become inactive due to lack of maintenance funds and a disincentive to work voluntarily. The BWDB Section Officer further mentioned that field staff are not given funds for transport costs to monitor these committees ‘I have to buy petrol for the motor cycle with my own cost’. In addition, there is a perception there is not sufficient manpower to interact with these committees and that coordination between different departments of the government and the local government could be improved. There may therefore be several parallel reasons contributing to the lack of maintenance activities of the committees created under the Fourth Fisheries Project.
Maintenance by local people (informal)
Local people contribute voluntary labor and material when the embankment requires immediate repairs during the face of disaster. In terms of regular maintenance, informal processes seem to be more common in Tildanga union, where gher owners who often are influential elites, take their own initiatives regardless of block committees. In Kaminibashia, informal committees consisting of gher owners would repair the sluice gate or embankment with their own funds. They may also re-excavate canals, in Tildanga village local people re-excavated the canal from Kalibari to Chorer khal (KII UPM, Tildanga), while large gher owners excavated some canals in Khona, Pankhali union that borders Tildanga. However, this type of maintenance, i.e. khal excavation, is seen as contentious as it may reduce land size for some land owners, or disrupt gher practices in leased canals. This tension was reflected in the Moshamari General FGD: “We do not have proper water management system in our area because there is a lot of confusion 36
and conflict among ourselves. Nobody wants to sacrifice a single penny for broader welfare. For example, if a khas khal needs to enlarge in lengths or widths, nobody wants to provide a single amount of land”. Arguably then, there is a sporadic process of excavation taken by those that have the means to afford it. This tends to take place outside formal processes and is usually restricted to the individuals, or committees of individuals to whom the land or canal belongs to. As such, it may not function to benefit the water distribution system as a whole. Another type of local initiative concerns indigenous technologies to protect against river erosion. Bamboo cages can be constructed either through cement blocks or jute sacks filled with sand and broken bricks. This will then divert the water away from the embankment and create chars.
Maintenance by other
As mentioned previously, the Union Parishad may use NGOs to excavate canals. Across the polder, respondents mentioned Shushilan specifically in re-excavating canals, if not entirely at least partially. This has been seen as beneficial in terms of reducing water logging (KII Paddy farmer Botbunia). However, in some instances, landowners have filled canals for their own benefit immediately after re-excavation, thus nullifying the potential benefits. NGOs have also taken initiative to excavate ponds that have become decomposed as tubewell water is contaminated with salinity and iron in Tildanga village (Ponds of Dr Pinak by BRAC and pond of Tushar Kanti were mentioned by the UPM Tildanga).
How does maintenance take place?
The main responsibility for gates, embankment and canals is seen as belonging to BWDB. Most maintenance work took place under Fourth Fisheries Project. BWDB led the work and contracted it to the Polder and block committees who used local laborers for re-excavation and repairing the embankment. After FFP ended, major maintenance activities and membership have declined as project funds have come to a halt. BWDB appears to conduct some activities in the polder such a emergency repairs and replacing broken shutters. It is not re-excavating canals but may use contractors to repair the embankment, this is seen as susceptible to corrupt practice by the respondents. ii. The Union Parishad does some re-excavation through rural employment schemes allocated through the Upazila Nirbahi Office. For this, they use local laborers such as those in Labor Contracting Societies. There is coordination with LGED as the LGED Community Organizer supervises the rural roads maintenance and pays the LCS. Though there were concerns with misappropriation of funds in some instances, the overall impression was positive as the project funding brought by the Union Parishad would lead to local employment. The UP would also cooperate with local NGOs such as Shushilan to delegate such work. In addition, the UP also provides support during emergencies through channeling GoB emergency funds and UP ward members do minor maintenance of gates. iii. The block committees and polder committee have become fully inactive after the end of FFP. Several reasons have been stated. One is the lack of maintenance funds and financial incentives, the other is that movement against saline intrusion conflicted with the aims of the block committee to promote shrimp cultivation, and the third is the lack of manpower and resources by BWDB to monitor and engage with these committees. iv. Local gher owners may individually or collectively through ‘gher committees’ re-excavate certain canals or pay for the repairs of gates (most likely their own private ones). During emergencies, local
people provide their own voluntary labor with eventual compensation afterwards by the Union Parishad. v. NGOs such as Shushilan have been active in re-excavating several canals. NGOs such as BRAC have in some instances re-excavated ponds as an alternative source of water from contaminated tubewells.
7. OPERATION OF SLUICE GATES
7.1. Operation through BWDB
Prior to the BWDB restructuring of 1998, there were government-employed gatemen (khalashis) who would operate the gates and communicate with the BWDB. This system has been abolished where instead it is intended that Water Management Organizations, or communities, should take over this responsibility. BWDB has no role in the operation of sluice gates, i.e. not in the actual decision-making on operations or in the selection of committee/operator. However, throughout the FGDs and KIIs references were made to BWDB khalashis and how they disappeared 10-12 years back. In some instances, the role of employing a khalashi has been taken over by the Union Parishad or locally formed gate committees.
7.2. Operation through Union Parishad and Gate committees
7.2.1. Pankhali Union Actors and operators Throughout Pankhali Union, all formal BWDB gates are currently operated by gate committees consisting of people from various classes and occupation. They will then select an operator, or gateman, and arrange his salary each month (Moukhali General FGD). Since BWDB does no longer recruit or pay for khalashis, the Union Parishad Chairman and Members appear to have taken over this role to ensure that there is a gateman and that regular maintenance of the BWDB gates takes place (Moukhali and Khona FGDs). As such, some of the respondents in Pankhali (the woman LCS group in particular) believe that there is still a government-employed khalashi as it was before the system was dismantled 1215 years ago. Decision-making process: According to the Union Parishad Chairman of Pankhali, the sluice gate committees are formed by the local UP ward Member by involving landowners, poor people and those that want to volunteer. The number of committee members is usually 7-11 people and are responsible for BWDB gates. The committee members meet and discuss the demands of the area and then decide when to close and open the gates based on consensus. Public gates do not have any gate committees. Respondents in Khona and Moukhali, further mention that the BWDB and Union Parishad are both involved in the creation of these committees and may replace them whenever they see fit. The UP member rather stated that they inform the BWDB whenever a committee is not working and then take their help of having them replaced. The UPC on the other hand did not mention the BWDB, but stated that the UNO is the one that approves each committee. “They [gate committees] are working very well and they have interest in the work. If they were not good people, they would not be given the responsibility”. Arguably then, where there has not been a formal project like FFP, the UP has been proactive in creating gate committees through coordination with other government agencies. 38
The Union Parishad of Pankhali was seen as active in the movement against saline intrusion and stopping bagda cultivation. In Moukhali FGD, particular reference was made to the movement and its link to gate committees. Here the gate committee is called the ‘Saline Water Prevention Committee’’ and it has been active since 2009 to promote paddy and freshwater fish cultivation. It was mentioned in the Moukhali FGD that people from different occupations are involved in the committee, where the Upazila Chairman, Member of Parliament and NGOs (AOSED and Shushilan) helped in the formation of the committee. Operation of the gate: when and for how long? Since the movement against saline water in 2009, the gates are opened during Asharh (June-July) and closed in Poush (December), i.e. during the rainy season and when the river consists of freshwater. It is then closed during the months where the river is saline. In Khona FGD it was particularly mentioned that the gate may be closed during heavy rain and cause inundation in paddy fields, only when people are upset and strongly request the gateman to open the gates does he do so. In general, however, local people tend to contact the concerned UP ward member and gate committee for opening or closing the gate. Whose interests are best represented? It has been mentioned that the Union Parishad has the ability to change gate committees it sees as not functioning properly and that the Union Parishad ward member acts as the sluice gate committee. As such, the UP has the strongest ability to operate the gates. It was further mentioned that consensus would be reached with the remaining gate committee members and they would have to represent different occupations and strata and ensure that they take decisions according to local needs. In terms of salinity intrusion, this is not taking place for BWDB gates while most of the private gates have been closed. Nevertheless, the gate committee does seem to consist mainly of influential elites. “In the [gate] committee, all are elite persons, Mattabbor. There are no poor people like us” (LCS FGD, Khatail, Pankhali). Despite this lack of information, the LCS women felt that they may approach the gate committee and that they are listened to. “... but if we inform about any problem they hear to us”. In Shushilan’s field observations, the operation of the gate seems to be needs based, ‘If anybody needs water, they inform it to gateman and then he opens the gate’. 7.2.2. Tildanga Union Actors and operators There are two types of sluice gates in Tildanga union, formal BWDB gates and informal public gates. While the Pankhali FGDs were clear that their responses held true for BWDB gates, the distinction was not as straightforward among the Tildanga respondents. The main BWDB gates that were discussed is the Kalibari sluice gate (BWDB#6) close to Botbunia village, Bhadra sluice (BWDB#34) in the west, Kaminibashia sluice (BWDB #14-19), Kata khal sluice (BWDB#23), Garkhali Nadi Sluice (BWDB#25). Public sluice gats include Fakirbad Sluice (Public#17), Shotobalia Sluice (Public #18) and Botbunia Sluice (Public#23). According to the WMC in Botbunia, there are gate committees for each gate, where one member is given the charge of operating the gate and maintaining it. The labour is paid for from the right to catch fish from the relevant canals. The Union Parishad Member of Tildanga village mentioned further that the funds from fishing are also used to maintain the gates. The existence of gate committees were confirmed also in the LCS Tildanga, Moshamari and Kaminibashia FGDs, though they seem to be divided up based on block or ward. According to a 30 biggha gher owner (Mr N S) in the Kaminibashia FGD, each UP ward member is responsible for each gate committee, and there is a voluntary gateman for each ward who maintains and operates the gate. In the south of Tildanga, fishing rights was not mentioned as form of 39
pay. Interestingly, in this union references were made to such government employed operators also for public gates, as mentioned by the KII with the woman shrimp farmer in Nishankhali (Public #17 and 18). According to the Shrimp farmer using the Public sluices (#17 and 18) and the BWDB Garkhali Sluice gate (BWDB #25), these gate committees were formed already during the Third Fisheries Project by CARITAS NGO. Decision-making process: Though gate committees were stated to exist throughout Tildanga Union, the decision making process tends to differ. The FGDs and KIIs reveal three main types of decision-making models i) Gate committees and their members both decide on when to close and open the gate as well as operate it and only contact the UP for resolving conflicts ii) Gher owners and land owners form their own committees independent of formal institutions such as block committees of Union Parishad. Decision-making via Gate committees (Moshamari, Botbunia, Tildanga and Kaminibashia villages) The model for gate committees arose after the disappearance of BWDB Khalashis and also consolidated with the TFP and FFP where NGOs helped form block committees. Currently, there are approximately 6-11 people per gate committee, though KIIs seem to indicate that there is at least an active involvement of three members. As in Pankhali, local people contact gate committee or UP member when they need to open or close the gate. If there is any conflict, the UP Chairman is involved. Around Botbunia sluice gate (Public #23), a paddy farmer from Garkhali/Botbunia mentioned that they have a Saline Prevention Committee similar to that in Pankhali, where people formed the gate committee to ensure that salinity intrusion is prevented for any conflict they contact the UP Chairman. This is interesting as an informal ‘private’ gate has come under local government control and people’s control to prevent saline intrusion by gher owners. Here, the gate committee members take turns in operating the gates while the ward member is the Chairperson. “As they are the head of an area, it is a better system” (KII with Paddy farmer, Garkhali/Botbunia). Though the IWM map lists Botbunia as a public gate, the respondents see it as a ‘government’, i.e BWDB gate. The paddy farmers in the Botbunia area seemed to all be against saline intrusion and there were no conflicts mentioned in operation. Similarly, in neighbouring Moshamri, the General FGD participants mentioned that bagda cultivation has stopped and gher owners can no longer enter saline water. rather, the gate committees decide on operating the gates based on local needs (Kalibari, Botbunia and Bhadra sluices). Overall, respondents in Tildanga, Botbunia and Moshamari villages in northern Tildanga were happy with the operation of the gates. Gher owners and land owners The same needs based approach was mentioned in Kamininibashia FGD, though only by one respondent, Mr N S who is also large gher owner (30 biggha). Similarly, another large shrimp farmer in Kaminibashia (65 biggha) mentioned “Water comes during high tide and moves away during low tide through this gate, nobody objects. We used to discuss during the shrimp season about draining in and draining out water”. However, he also mentioned the installation of tubewells to supply water to ghers and to use the Mozamnagar sluice gate to supply ghers with water, which is almost always saline water. What appears to have been a case in Kaminibashia was that for many years there was a gate committee created under one of the Third or Fourth Fishery projects, where gher owners would decide on the operation of the gates in a way beneficial to salinity intrusion, i.e. opening the gate in the dry season. “Now there is no committee. Now we, the people of this area take decision collectively. The member of this area calls everybody and he leads this group. He asks everyone and says let see what happen. We drain in water if everyone agrees and do not drain in if everyone does not agree”. Overall, in southern 40
Tildanga in villages such as Kaminibashia and Nishankhali there is a larger concentration of gher owners that tend to operate the gates in an informal basis as there are also many more public gates and pipes in the area. The disappearance of the former gate committee seems to be correlated with the High court ruling against saline intrusion and the ensuing court cases against certain gher owners. Operation of the gate: when and for how long? In northern Tildanga, the BWDB gates are closed in Poush (December-January) when salinity increases and opened during the rainy season, while particular water needs are decided through discussions in the gate committee. “Now we are using polder in a way that saline water cannot drain in the lands. Land fertility is increasing. Crops and trees are growing. Now this area is almost free from negative impact” (Paddy farmer, Botbunia/Garkhali). However, there are instances with shrimp farmers using private gates to continue the practice of salinity intrusion. A different paddy farmer in Botbunia (BWDB#6), mentioned how the shrimp farmer Mr N K drains in saline water for his own interest through a private gate and with disregard for other people’s opinions. In southern Tildanga, the gates are open during the monsoon and at the end of Falgun when the outside river has become saline (Woman shrimp farmer, Nishankhali SL#45-46 on Shushilan map). Since all people in the area cultivate bagda, this is seen as unproblematic by the cultivators in southern Tildanga, who are all shrimp farmers. Whose interests are best represented? The role of the Union Parishad is ambiguous in Tildanga Union. Whereas in Pankhali union the UP was part of the movement against saline water, in Tildanga the situation seems more complex. Though Kaminibashia FGD mentioned that the UP controls the gate committees, informal committees were also mentioned for the same area. The Chairperson of the WMC interviewed for this research, Mr M B, is according to the UP member in Tildanga, a former UP in Tildanga union who tried to shift the union towards fresh water cultivation instead of bagda. The current Tildanga UP chair, Mr J, is on the other hand the owner of several ghers and businesses with several hundreds of biggha land and is supported by another shrimp businessman Mr H B (who controls some of the ‘public’ gates) and owns 16-17 ghers each ranging in the size from 500 bigha to 1500 bigha (anonymous). As these gher owners are also part of the UP, there seems to be vested shrimp influences within the local government union institute itself. In Pankhali union, on the other hand, the UP has allied itself with the opposite saline prevention committee, where many of the respondents stated that they were happy with how the gates are no longer drawing salinity into the land. Nevertheless, ‘public’, or rather private, gates still exist in Pankhali union and northern Tildanga where shrimp farmers like Mr N K still practice salinity intrusion for their ghers. They are therefore dissatisfied with this freshwater regime. It is not clear how Tildanga Union Parishad that is divided between freshwater interests in the north and shrimp farming interests in the south addresses this. Decision-making Khalashi Gate committees led by UP Member and UP Chair over BWDB gates Autocratic control of informal gates combined with gher owner committees
Table 12 -
BWDB Union Parishad Gate committees
Operator and Funds Discontinued Local operator: voluntary service + fishing rights Gate committee and funds from gher owners
Duration N/A Closed during dry season and opened during monsoon. Gate open during dry season (Falgun)
Gher owners and Influential Elites
Interests N/A Paddy interests and Saline Water Prevention Committee, UP Pankhali Shrimp farmers and the shrimp associated UP Tildanga
Operation of sluices in Polder 31
7.3. How does operation take place?
i. In most cases gate committees formed by the Union Parishad, usually via the ward member operate the BWDB gates, while ‘public’ gates are often private gates belonging to individual landowners. These are often shrimp farmers and many of these are now more concentrated in the south of the polder as the public gates have been closed in Pankhali Union in the north. In these BWDB gate committees operators provide voluntary labour and obtain some limited fishing rights for their work. Gate committees throughout the polder are seen as responding to general requests and solve any conflicting issues between parties. In Pankhali union and the north of Tildanga union, gates are open during the rainy season and restrictedly closed during the dry season, while the gates are open in the south during the dry season. As such the operation matches the concentration of shrimp farmers in Table 1 Figure 2 Operation in Polder 31 the south and the paddy farmers interviewed in the north. Union Parishads are active in gate committees – the UP ward member usually acts as the gate committee Chairperson. He or she also tends to coordinate different requests this is especially the case in the North where they hold main decision-making power. In the Gate committees in the South, the Union Parishad officials tend to also be gher owners. In Kaminibashia in the South the formal block committees have become inactive and shrimp farmers have formed their own groups to take over the operation of the gates. The respondents did not feel there was a conflict in the area ‘as we are all shrimp farmers’. Only a General FGD with influential elites and KIIs with shrimp farmers were held here, while LCS and paddy farmers were interviewed in northern Tildanga. It is therefore difficult to verify that conflicts do not exist in the south. There was also mentioning of private tubewells for saline water intrusion to ghers. Both LCS groups in the north of the polder felt that the gate committees would listen to their demands, though they were not members of the gate committees themselves. NGOs did not take any role in operation, though they were active in providing deep tubewells for drinking purposes and providing agricultural support to farmers.
This section outlines three major conflicts in polder 30 that concern water management. The first is salinity intrusion, the second is conflicts regarding canal ownership and the third is on conflicts regarding to exclusion of poorer groups.
8.1. Conflicts regarding saline water intrusion and shrimp cultivation
Shrimp cultivation stopped 2009 in northern Tildanga and Pankhali reunion, but remains in Kaminibashia and Garkhali villagers. As mentioned previously, bagda shrimp cultivation started in the polder already in the 1980s and there have been two World Bank projects promoting shrimp cultivation and fisheries in the polder. Shrimp cultivation requires regular supply of brackish (saline) water. For this purpose, several gates and pipes have been informally installed in the embankment to draw in saline water to the shrimp farms (ghers). In addition, tubewells and pump machine have also been used to supply the ghers with water when groundwater has been found to be increasingly saline. Leases of canals (discusses below) have further been used to ensure the supply of saline water. These means of salinity intrusion have been overall contentious as it has negatively affected agricultural yields, in particular paddy and vegetables, as well as the existence of fruit trees, freshwater fish, livestock and homestead gardens as salinity intrusion affects soil quality and vegetation. In 2009, forceful salinity intrusion was stopped through a grassroots movement spearheaded by a local rights based NGO (Nijera Kori) and the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyer’s Association (BELA). BELA filed a writ petition to the High Court against forceful salinity intrusion through unauthorized pipes, illegal (private) gates and opening of gates during the dry season. This has created two parties, the farmers, small landowners and poor that can now obtain better food security, and the shrimp farmers who are now facing legal charges and declining profits due to the lack of saline water – their most important input. BWDB is filing cases against any such violator, through articles 15 and 75b. The movement arose in the north of the Polder, and this is where the implementation of the ban is most clearly visible. Respondents of Moukhali village in Pankhali noted that paddy and vegetable cultivation have increased along with the number of fruit trees, livestock and poultry. Now all gates are closed, we want these gates closed so that we can rear cows, goats. We cannot rear cattle when there was Gher. Within the last three years, this time people have bought cows in each house. Many NGOs gave cow. Cows were not available in houses when there was Gher. If anybody had ten cows, he sold nine cows and kept only one (due to lack of grazing land cause by salinity). LCS women, Khatail village, Pankhali This area is not suitable for only shrimp culture. As salinity inclusion causes fertility reduction of land trees, crops and grasses dried out. Animals and birds decrease. No one here is interested to shrimp culture at all. Salinity inclusion just only helps the big land owners. If we face any problem then we apply to chairman. All types of cultivation is possible in sweet water. Animals, birds and trees also increase. Everyone benefited by paddy cultivation. We get 12-15 mon paddy per bigha. In saline water just big land owners get benefit. But we are small farmer/ Paddy farmer, Garkhali/Botbunia, Tildanga union The Paddy farmer in Botbunia’s statement also illustrates the diversified impact of a certain cropping pattern based on landholding size as was discussed previous in Section 2 Farming Systems. Despite the benefits to certain groups, there are still shrimp farmers that unlawfully draw in saline water, particularly in the south of Tildanga and the sluice gates of Mozamnagar and Garkhali. Such salinity intrusion still have effects, another paddy farmer in Botbunia filed a case against a shrimp farmer Mr NtK (1000 bigha) for using his personal gate (appears to be Botbunia, Public#23) to flood areas with saline water. This has 43
caused the victim’s freshwater fish to die in their ponds three years consecutively, while affecting a total of 50 people in the area. In this year I have lost 5-6 thousand taka because the fish of my ponds died for the impact of salinity. Last year the amount of loss was 8-9 thousand taka and before that year the amount was 8 thousand taka. I requested him several times before raising the litigation. I told him, “ Babu, my fishes and crops are damaging for salinity”. But he did not listen to me. I heard, police came to search him. The people of Nitto Babu drained out saline water just after the day of raising case/ Paddy farmer, Botbunia village, Tildanga – Public #23. The Upazila officer for the Department of Agricultural Extension voiced similar frustrations with ongoing salinity intrusion despite the ban, pointing at salinity’s negative effect on agricultural production, ‘the seed bed has seen a 30% decline in the production due to salinity’. A reason for this continuation has been attributed to the actors being influential and well connected shrimp farmers. In Section 8 Operation, the connection between Tildanga Union Parishad and shrimp farmers had been mentioned. In addition, high ranking politicians (one name was mentioned in particular) of the sitting government also own several ghers in the area. One respondent mentioned that “Our farmers are always neglected, their demand is neglected due to some [influential] people’. Arguably then, the Department of Fisheries’ promotion of shrimp through these projects, along with BWDB’s silence in the construction of gates have made the DAE powerless, where their objectives are being undermined. The shrimp farmers in Kaminibashia, however, were also frustrated due to several impeding court cases filed against them and lost profits due to lack of saline water. One of them mentioned: “I am accused in 4 cases, was in prison for 2 months, peoples are in my side, our sufferings should be stopped.” Many of them argued that though the north of the polder is suitable for paddy cultivation, the south is too lowlying and saline to not culture shrimp. They also feel betrayed as they were encouraged to cultivate shrimp like this through the Third and Fourth Fisheries Project, stating that the ‘Government’ needs to make up its mind on what it wants them to do. The contradictions of national policies are therefore highly palpable also at the ground level. The shrimp farmers feel that their livelihoods have increased through this dry season alternative and where highly negative towards the High Court ruling against saline intrusion. However, no poorer respondents were spoken to during the field visit and their perception was not captured. Suggestions to solve the conflict of the High Court ruling and Shrimp farmer’s demand for saline water - Stop shrimp farming altogether (paddy farmers in north of polder) - Improve drainage system through excavating canals and larger gate (UP Member, Tildanga) - Land zoning for shrimp cultivation where saline water intrusion is permitted (Shrimp farmer, Kaminibashia) o South portion of Kaminibashia and Garkhali should be given permission for shrimp cultivation.
8.2. Conflicts regarding canal ownership
In Bangladesh, there are government (khas) canals that can be allocated to poor and landless for fishing. According to the BWDB SO, the government can lease the khas canals but the BWDB and related WMOs may not lease them. These khas canals can thus either be leased legally, or be ‘grabbed’ illegally. Both legal and illegal ways of taking the control of canals, will be referred to as leasing since the status of 44
a khal can be under dispute. For instance, the Ministry of Land (Settlement Office) Deputy Commissioner or Member of Parliament may lease out canals, though this process may be seen as ‘legal’, it is dominated by influential elites and those with political connections to the ruling political party. Across respondents, both villagers, paddy farmers, shrimp farmers and government officials, leasing was seen as a problem. This lies particularly in how ‘leased’ canals often end up as forcefully controlled canals used for private gain, impeding the entire canal system of water distribution and drainage. This was discussed particularly in Section 5.3.2 with reference to list of leased canals. This seems to be due to corrupt practices and bribes in obtaining the right of canals, where neither drainage or re-excavation can take place properly. The blocking of canals for fishing by leaseholders and filling the canals with waste to increase leaseholder’s land area for crop production all result in the disruption of the natural flow of water and lead to problems of drainage. As such, there is a limited ability to retain water in the canal from the monsoon to the dry season, impeding cultivation. The practice of leasing canals and using them for personal use seems widespread. Interestingly, respondents mentioned that they could not access water from the canals without the leaseholders permission. There seems to be an overlap between the operation of the gate and leased canals, where the operation of the gate also falls to the leaseholder – though this was not directly stated in the FGDs. In that case, it would make sense that in Pankhali union where the Upazila officials are involved in leasing, are also the ones to approve the gate committees. Suggestions arising from the FGDs and KIIs to resolve the conflict: - UP should be legally bound to supply water for all through the canals - Government should not lease khals. - DAE all the khals should be kept open (no blockages) and all the rules that obstruct khal function should be stopped. - BWDB needs to monitor against illegal khal occupation
8.3. Participation, Exclusion and Gender
Discourse on participation When asked what people’s participation in water management means there was a strong tendency to state that all sections of societies should be able to participate in water management. Responses such as ‘all segments of society should be involved’ were common across respondents in Pankhali Union and northern Tildanga. In Khona, Moukhali and Kaminibashia FGDs the participants seemed to prefer participation by Union Parishad, teachers, elites and those with influence. Participation was seen as ‘ability to express opinion’ and have the ability to influence decisions of water management. General FGD, Khona village: “Discuss needs together and give everyone equal importance. Make sure everyone is informed on water management”. Reality of participation in the polder Though block committees were created during Fourth Fisheries, these have largely become inactive and non-existent. Even when created, they represented aquaculture interests predominantly and did not actively include paddy farmers. Since 2009, the north of the polder seems to have more inclusive decision-making, where freshwater interests of the majority and poor are largely adhered to for the BWDB sluice gates. Though landless women are not part of these gate committees, they state that they are listened to. However, the practice of canal leasing seems to also lead to forceful occupation of canals for private use. This in turn overlaps with control of certain gates and access to both water and fisheries, as well experienced problems with drainage. Despite the existence of gate committees, private leasing is having a negative impact on the canal system as a whole. In the south, the interests of larger shrimp farmers seem to over-ride those of smaller shrimp farmers and those located farther away from the sluice 45
gates. In addition, the owners of private gates may harm the fields surrounding it. Nevertheless, all the respondents in Kaminibashia and Nishankhali were shrimp farmers stating that there is no conflict to water usage, though even here leasing was seen as a problem in some instances. It should be noted that Mr N S who was speaking most at the Kaminbashia General FGD, is also the local ward member and a gher owner. Landless and women’s representation in Water Management Groups (Block committees) The Water Management Committee in Botbunia mentioned that they were supposed to have a one third woman membership in the block committee, where the Union Parishad promoted gender awareness raising and activities to help incorporate women’s opinnoin. However, the block committee had 6 elected representatives, and none were women as they had not been elected. Similarly, there were not landless in either the general or executive committees for the same stated reason. There was generally a perception (or bias) against both women and landless, saying that they are unable to express their opinions in a decision-making body like an executive committee. Decisions are only discussed with executive committee members, and as such women and landless are automatically excluded, while opinions are taken from general members. One of the women respondents is a shrimp farmer in Nishankhali village in southern Tildanga and who is very active in various local development activities. “People of my area respect me very much”. She had previously expressed an interest in joining the gate committee when the UP ward member was forming it. Though she thought the process was transparent and based on discussion, she was excluded from being a member despite signing up for it. This was due to someone erasing her name from the list. One male shrimp farmer opined that “Women should not be involved in this work. Men should work. Women are always busy with their household activities; they do not have time to do this work”. During this KII, it was clear that he did not like that women work outside their homes. Arguably then, there are still some existing gender biases that encourage the exclusion of women from water management, even when they are both interested and involved in water related activities. Women also actively participate in maintenance, where the Labor Contracting Societies interviewed in the polder both consisted of poorer women. They rarely have any say on the planning of the maintenance work, only its execution. Nevertheless, the prospect of employment and income is what they seem to value the most. It is therefore unfortunate there remains a wage difference between male and women LCS for the same amount of work. In addition, the LCS women felt that the Union Parishad Chairman would ignore their requests as they were poor. Poor and landless people, who are also women therefore seem to be the most excluded group in terms of influence and voice in the polder. The quotas in the WMGs have done little to change this.
Polder 31 was built in the early 1970s. The emergence of shrimp cultivation dramatically changed cropping and leasing patterns in the polder, with an abundance of commercial ghers. Local and small landowners gradually felt forced to shift to shrimp farming. After Aila in 2009, the destruction of the cyclone was seen to have been exacerbated due to several informal structures (pipes and private gates). This in turn led to a grassroots movement against such salinity intrusion. The polder is currently divided by freshwater preference in majority in the north and shrimp farming preference in the south. The physical infrastructure of the polder is weakened by the existence of pipes and private sluice gates, constant river erosion and lack of maintenance. Similar problems have been applied to the sluice gates that are subject to siltation and/or to technical problems. Gaps in the design of the gates in a changing hydrological context have also been mentioned as the gates are seen as too small and too few to address drainage congestion. In addition, a major problem is the siltation of canals. This problem is also related to leasing (or canal grabbing), as influential elites controlling such canals may either filled them further or hinder re-excavation. This in turn also contributes to drainage congestion and in many cases there have reported problems of waterlogging inundating large areas of agricultural land. In term of institutions, the BWDB is involved in the polder since the construction of the embankment and was also active in construction and rehabilitation work during the Fourth Fisheries project. However, since the end of the project BWDB states to have no regular maintenance funds, and can only initiate work based on emergencies or projects. It was also voiced that BWDB is working more through external contractors than through local people. The Union Parishad was seen as more active in using rural employment schemes to maintain gates, re-excavate canals and repair roads, often through the help of the Local Government Engineering Department (roads), NGOs (canals) and Labur Contracting Societies (earthwork). The WMA and local management groups, WMG created during FFP are now mainly inactive. Rather, local gate committees are active as decision-makers and operators for the operation of gates. They are usually formed by the Union Parishad ward member, and the UP Chairman has a conflict resolution role. In some instances, it seems that the UP embodies the capture of influential elites, as in Tildanga where the UP are mostly large gher owners. Yet overall, most respondents felt that the UP was the most responsive local government institution and any project via UP is usually beneficial for local employment. However, the UP is facing problems to excavate canals under lease, and one respondent suggested that the UP should have the right to ensure right distribution of water and drainage, no matter the leasing rights. The consequence of the situation of the polder is reflected in the conflicts. First, the existence of pipes and informal gates reflect the conflict on salinity intrusion. This has reached an interesting dimension where the shrimp farmers now feel that they are made victims as the ban on salinity intrusion decreases their profit and has led to several court cases against certain large shrimp farmers. Siltation in the canals and problems lack of re-excavation is reflected in the contested issue of influential elites taking control of the canals. This has exacerbated inequalities in water access and water logging problems for farmers. In addition, it has led to the use of khas (government) canals for private use, where poor people can no longer fish in the canals. The third conflict, which is more dormant, is the lack of inclusion of all stakeholders in water management, where influential elites are mostly in control. However, where freshwater interests prevail, small farmers and poor women still feel that their interests are being followed, while no such respondent was interviewed in the shrimp majority area.
When the respondents were asked how they envisaged their village ten years from now (2022) if water management continues as usual, the scenario was bleak with major concerns for climate change If the present situation continues for next 10 years, the environment would be disastrous. This would no more be suitable for living. There would not be crops any more. Disease would be increased. Diarrhea has already been appeared. Gradually, severe diseases like Jaundice would be appeared when there would not be fresh water. Now world’s climate is changing and we are living in low lying areas. River depth is gradually decreased, water discharge is also decreased but water levels are increased. In addition, embankments gradually lowering by erosion due to lack of proper repair and maintenance. If this situation continues, not ten years, we would be submerged within ¾ years./ General FGD, Moshamari village Tildanga Overall, most concerns revolved around submergence under water, drinking water scarcity and river erosion. In Moukhali, they believed that the ban on salinity intrusion would be revoked with a new government and that shift to bagda would be inevitable as the price of paddy has gone down while the price of bagda has increased substantially. The DAE, however, argued that little if any of the profit ever reached the people of the area. For the LCS women, drinking water was the major concern and they instead feared that the area would become a desert sooner rather than later. Similar concerns about safe drinking water were common, especially in relation to disease both for humans and livestock. Re-excavation of rivers and strengthening and redesigning the embankment were seen as two major priorities to address waterlogging and threat against livelihoods. Improved safe drinking water sources was also a common suggestion through more deep tube well and pipes, dry season irrigation facilities were also requested. Another problem identified was the private use of canals that would not allow water to be distributed broadly. In Pankhali and northern Tildanga, it was suggested that the role of the Union Parishad should increase in water management, along with its budget.
A. ANNEX 1: INSTITUTIONS IN WATER GOVERNANCE i) Government Agencies Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) The Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) is the main implementing agency of water infrastructure projects in Bangladesh. As per the National Water Policy (Ministry of Water Resources, 1999) it is responsible for polders larger than 1000 ha. For this purpose, BWDB has special wing in the district level headed by senior engineer called Executive Engineer (Operation and Maintenance). Prior to the BWDB restructuring of 1998, there were government employed gatemen (khalashis) who would operate the gates and communicate with the BWDB. This system has been abolished where instead it is intended that Water Management Organizations, or communities, should take over this responsibility. As already mentioned, Third and Fourth Fisheries Projects were implemented in Polder 31. It was aimed at promoting aquaculture and included the installation of newer gates, these were authorised by BWDB. BWDB only has a budget for emergency repairs and maintenance when there is a project. There is currently no regular maintenance budget according to the Section Officer. BWDB is seen as responsive in repairing the gates and embankment when needed, but inactive in canal excavation. It has also been stated that the agency prefers to use contractors rather than local people.
Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) Polder 31 is above the size of 1000 ha and thus falls under BWDB responsibility. Consequently, LGED’s role in the polders is limited to the Rural Roads Employment Scheme (REMS) and the creation of Labour Contracting Societies. LGED is still active in supervising and paying the salaries for the LCS groups in Polder 31. Union Parishad: a Local Government Institution Rural governance in Bangladesh comprises of a three tier local government system of which Union Parishad is the grassroots local government institution and its immediate upper tier is Upazila Parishad. Polder 30 has two Union Parishads in Gangarampur Union and Batiaghata Union that both fall under the administrative boundary of Batiaghata Upazila, Khulna. Drinking water: The Union Parishad provided Pond Sand Filters in Tildanga Union and is the first institution of contact for drinking water requests. Deep tubewells have been installed, but sometimes fail to lift. There is a problem of salinity and iron contamination. It was suggested that pipelines should be made from villages with safe drinking water tubewells to villages where the tubewells have failed. Emergency: During disasters the Union Parishad tends to compensate people for their work through grains or food sometime after the repairs through various schemes or funds allocated through the Upazila. The UP plays an active role in organising people through loud speakers. Role of Union Parishad in Water Management Groups: The Union Parishad has no formal mandate in polder management in the Guidelines for Participatory Water Management (Ministry of Water Resources, 2001). In the National Water Policy it is only required to raise awareness on drinking water and sanitation. However, it was found that the Union Parishad members and Chairmen tend to be active in polder management creators of gate committees, where the UP ward member tends to act as the Chairperson. The UP Chairperson usually tends to resolve any conflicts regarding operation of gates, and supervises regular minor maintenance. In terms of canal re-excavation and embankment repairs, the UP coordinates with Upazila offices and NGOs to conduct such repairs. 49
Role of Upazila Nirbahi Officer and District Committee/MP The role of the upper level local government institutions of Upazilas and Districts is to coordinate between different government agencies and projects active in their areas. They are also to assist the Union Parishad for issues they cannot handle alone, as for instance funding required for various development activities (drinking water, emergency, roads maintenance) and coordination at the higher levels. The Upazila is active in leasing out canals and to approve UP created gate committees. It is also the authority that allocates funds for rural employment schemes used by the Union Parishad to do water management related maintenance. The Upazila Development Coordination Committee was mentioned as a monthly venue where development activities were coordinated between local government offices at the Upazila level and the Union Parishads. Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) is responsible for the dissemination of agricultural technology, information and relevant services to farmers and other stakeholders down to village level. It is the largest department under the Ministry of Agriculture having their extension officer down to village level (one extension officer called Sub Assistant Agriculture Officer for a cluster of villages called Block). In polder 31, the DAE is assisting farmers with paddy cultivation. Salinity intrusion through private gates and pipes were seen as impeding agricultural productivity in the polder as the seedbed is becoming negatively affected. The clash between Department of Fisheries, that sponsored bagda cultivation in polder 31, and Department of Agricultural Extension embodies the problem of conflicting water management for the multiple uses of water. Department of Fisheries (DoF) The Department of Fisheries (DoF) is responsible for the dissemination of fisheries resource conservation and aquaculture technology and is situated under the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock. DoF was the key agency in the Third and Fourth Fisheries Project. They gave training on aquaculture to shrimp farmers and provided ‘gher licenses’. Shrimp farmers in Kaminibashia felt that the 2009 High Court ban on saline intrusion directly opposes their previous contact with DoF that encouraged their gher activities. Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE) The Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE) is the national lead agency for provision of drinking water supply and waste management throughout the rural areas. Drinking water was identified as the most important use of water, yet respondents were not able to give any information of interactions with the DPHE. Rather, they would contact the Union Parishad and request deep tubewells or piped water supply systems to access safe drinking water. Deep and shallow tubewells are in some places contaminated with salinity and iron. Poor LCS members had to walk for an hour each day to fetch water. Installation of pipelines between villages was suggested. Coordination The Upazila and Union Parishad seem to act as the focal points for coordination between various government actors and local people. The Union Parishad is the first point of contact and is seen as bringing in development funds to the area. Though there were concerns with transparency in some instances, most respondents felt that when the UP brings in rural employment schemes or drinking water facilities, the local people of the area are usually benefitted. However, seeing as the group of respondents in southern Tildanga was quite uniform, the role of the UP in that area is more difficult to ascertain.
ii) NGOs NGOs: Shushilan, BRAC, Heed Bangladesh, Prodipan, DSK, Addin, Grameen Bank, ASA, Ashroi, World Vision, Rupantar, Proshika, IWO. Emergency: During Sidr and Aila the NGOs provided wheat, rice and lentils. In Moshamari it was mentioned that members of NGOs were given relieves (i.e. loan takers/beneficiaries) and that the NGOs provided safe drinking water. NGOs such as Shushilan, Prodipan, BRAC, DSK and IWO were specifically mentioned by the respondents. “If there had been no NGOs, we would not have survived” (LCS woman, Tildanga village). Micro-credit and loans: BRAC, ASA, Grameen Bank, Prodipan, Addin gave funds for income generating activities. DSK gives loans as a cooperative. Social welfare: Akiz Group Agriculture: BRAC provided funds to poorer women for vegetable and paddy cultivation, seeds and net to cover fish ponds. Drinking water and Sanitation: World Vision tested for Arsenic and has installed deep tubewells and water tanks in Moukhali, Pankhali Union. Role of NGOs in polder management: Shushilan has been active in re-excavating canals throughout the polder, though these activities have been restricted due to privately controlled canals. This has often been done through coordination with the UP and use of rural employment schemes and LCS groups. iii) Private actors Large shrimp businessmen: In the south of Tildanga Union, several references were made to large-scale shrimp farmers who owned several hundred biggha. Influential political elites based in Khulna and Dhaka were said to own ghers in the area. Some of the major private gates in the area also belong to large shrimp farmers. Many are facing legal charges and are negatively affected by the lack of saline water needed to continue with their bagda cultivation.
B. ANNEX 2 INSTITUTIONS: GENERAL INFORMATION Authority Organization Upazila Bureaucracy: UNO office headed by the UNO Upazila Land Office headed by the Assistant Commissioner, Land Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) Concerned Ministry Ministry of Establishment Field Relevant Functions Presence Up to Upazila * General administration level. * Development coordination * Conflict resolution Up to Upazila * Khas land and khas jolmohal management level. * Leasing out of khas land, khas jolmohal Constraints * Inadequate manpower * Low skills of stall * Bureaucratic orientation * Lacks public accountability * Political interference * Inadequate manpower * Low skills of stall * Bureaucratic orientation * Lacks public accountability * Political interference * Upazilla level office nonfunctional * Gateman recruitment stopped but alternative measure to O&M by communities not introduced * Inadequate manpower if no project on-going * Political interference Suggested remedial measures * Reorientation * Freedom to act professionally, neutrally, guided by law *Enhanced public accountability * Reorientation * Freedom to act professionally, neutrally, guided by law *Enhanced public accountability * Repair, reconstruct polder * Transform BWDB from just line ministry control to a people oriented institution * Freedom to act professionally, neutrally, guided by law *Enhanced public accountability * Local government strengthening
Ministry of Land
Ministry of Water Resources
Effectively up to district level
*Develop and maintain polder infrastructure * Implement national water policy in the field level
Ministry of Local Government Rural Development and Cooperatives
Department of Agriculture Extension
Ministry of Agriculture
Up to Upazila * Plan, implement and maintain rural level. infrastructure (rural roads, bridge, culvert market, ghat etc) * Plan and implement small water sector projects upto 1000 ha in cooperation with local bodies and communities * Provide technical support (design, supervision, accounting) to local government bodies to develop, operate and maintain local infrastructure area) Effectively up * Provide technical advice to Upazila * Assist distribution of input subsidies, agr level loan etc.
* Sub Assistant Agriculture * Low skills of employees * Political interference
* Establish Union based farmers information and service centre (FIAC) * Ensure presence of SAAOs in the 52
* Report on acreage, production etc
Department of Fisheries (DoF)
Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock
Up to Upazila * Provide technical advice to fish/ shrimp level farmers * Conserve fisheries resources * Inspect quality of shrimp fry supplied to farmers, hygienic condition of fish/shrimp landing centre/depots, quality of shrimp going to processing centre * regulation of shrimp farming so that it is not damaging environment * Khas jol mohal lease, management. * Report on fisheries/ shrimp area production etc Up to Upazila Support water supply and sanitation level. - Tube Well - Pond sand filters - Rain water harvest - Ring slab latrine Nearest to people 38 functions * provision and maintenance of rural infrastructure (include roads, canals, dykes, small scale water management) * provision and maintenance of water supply sources * prevent contamination of water sources * village police * village court, salish
* Elite capture of khas jolmohal/ lease * Lack transparency and public accountability * Lack of manpower * Political interference * Lack transparency and public accountability
FIAC * Ensure public accountability and where UAO and SAAO must report to Upazilla and UP chair respectively * Introduce local extension agent in fisheries (LEAF) as recommended by the Fourth Fisheries Project (as a community managed but government supported extension system) * Ensure public accountability and where UAO and SAAO must report to Upazilla and UP chair respectively
Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE) Union Parishad (UP)
Ministry of Local Government Rural Development and Cooperatives Ministry of Local Government
* Political interference * Inter agency coordination * Lack transparency and * Better interaction with the public accountability communities * Low coordination with other departments * Bureaucratic and political interference by DC/UNO and MP/minister * Lacks support of the government (financial & logistic) * Inability to mobilize financial resources internally * Elite domination * Local government strengthening by the government * Government to support not control local government. * Involve civil society organizations/NGOs to buildup capacity of the UP and raise public awareness
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