DHAKA, BANGLADESH — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing fresh assistance to expand a water resources project in the southwest of Banglandesh that has sharply increased agriculture production and benefited over 191,000 people, including landless farmers and women. 

ADB is providing a $45 million loan and the Government of the Netherlands is expected to provide a grant of $7 million, to be administered by ADB, to increase the scope of the Southwest Area Integrated Water Resources Planning and Management Project.  ADB provided $20 million and the Government of the Netherlands provided $12.5 million for the original project, which was approved in 2005 and has renovated dilapidated infrastructure and established water management organizations with broad community participation. 

“We’ve seen considerable benefits in the project pilot areas of Narail and Chenchuri Beel already, with rice production nearly doubling and fish production rising 30%,” said Natsuko Totsuka, Senior Resources Specialist in ADB’s South Asia Department. “This new financing will allow us to replicate the success of the project across nine nearby areas, covering 84,000 hectares, and with a population of nearly 470,000.” 

In each of the new subproject areas, support will be given to enrol farmers into water management organizations to help them to better operate and maintain the water infrastructure, and develop integrated water management plans. The expanded project will also support the development of skills for members of water management organizations to help them increase the productivity of their agriculture and fishing activities, and to enhance their livelihood activities. On the infrastructure side, funds will be used to renovate or build gated water retention structures and flood embankments, and to re-excavate clogged drainage and irrigation canals.
Sustainable water resources management is crucial for economic livelihoods and poverty reduction in Bangladesh, where more than 80% of poor people live in rural areas and depend on agriculture or fisheries for their livelihoods. Serious deterioration of flood control, drainage and irrigation schemes has undermined agriculture and fisheries production, and upgrading infrastructure and establishing a way for local people to manage their own water resources is an important goal for the government and its development partners, including ADB.

ADB has held several trials focused on establishing participatory water management groups across Bangladesh, and the existing project has been the first successful case of a large-scale participatory water management scheme.

The expanded project is expected to be completed in June 2022. 

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2014, ADB assistance totaled $22.9 billion, including cofinancing of $9.2 billion.

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