ADB to Help Improve Water Management and Agricultural Productivity in Bangladesh

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a US$106 million loan to improve water resources management and agricultural productivity in rural Bangladesh.

The project builds on the success and lessons from three prior ADB-financed participatory small-scale water resources management projects in Bangladesh and scales up investment while intensifying climate and disaster resilience support and food security through new and improved water resources infrastructures and services for flood and drought risk management, drainage improvement, and irrigation systems modernisation.

It will significantly increase agricultural productivity and profitability through effective, participatory, and sustainable water resources management over more than 220,000 hectares in 42 districts, home to 77% of the rural poor.

To be implemented by the Local Government Engineering Department, it will establish 150 new water management cooperative associations and strengthen 230 existing ones; support emergency reconstruction and modernization of the Bakkhali rubber dam scheme; construct 110 kilometers of farm and village roads with all-weather features; and increase participation of women, youth, and small ethnic communities.

The innovative and climate resilience features of the project have attracted co-financing. The International Fund for Agricultural Development provides a loan of US$42.98 million and the Government of the Netherlands a grant of US$17.8 million to finance innovative pilot works and consulting services supporting the innovations, while the Government of Bangladesh provides US$58.22 million of counterpart funds.

“More than half of the national population live in rural areas, and agriculture is a main source of employment. Livelihoods are threatened by worsening water insecurity and climate impacts,” said ADB Senior Water Resources Specialist Olivier Drieu.

“The project will strengthen climate and disaster resilience by introducing water management measures, such as raising and strengthening flood embankments, deepening channels to increase water retention, irrigation structures, efficient electric pump-pipe, and buried-pipe irrigation systems, as well as new technologies for crop and aquaculture production. It will also promote climate-smart agribusiness and fishery development and marketing to support the livelihoods of 380,000 households, especially those of women and vulnerable persons,” Drieu added.