The CPWF’s coastal resource management project brought real change to communities in Vietnam and Bangladesh. In Vietnam, the project’s technologies and cropping systems benefited 8,000 households and contributed to the economic growth of Bac Lieu Province, population 800,000. In Bangladesh, 2,500 farmers connected to the CPWF research project increased their income by between 50 and 100 per cent. In both countries the project’s success came about by working at three scales.
Millions of farmers live in tide-affected areas in Bangladesh’s part of the Ganges delta. During the wet season, the river flow keeps the salt water out of tributaries and channels but during the dry season, tides push salt water upstream. The opportunity that the CPWF’s coastal resource management project exploited was to store freshwater in irrigation channels at the end of the wet season for use during the dry season. To make this happen they worked in pilot sites with the local staff in charge of managing the channels. At the same time they worked with farmers to develop double-cropping and fish/shrimp systems to take advantage of the additional water, bringing in ideas and rice varieties that the project developed in Vietnam.
The results of the trials were used to change the Bangladesh Water Development Board’s and Local Government Engineering Department’s irrigation policy to support wider adoption of the water storage innovation. The benefit delivered to 2,500 farmers was possible because of the project’s commitment to addressing complexity, through working at, and linking across, three scales — farming, local irrigation management, and regional policy.