UTFI project team members from Acacia Water, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh Water Development Board and IWMI, together with the support of the Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA), visited Rajshahi district in northwest Bangladesh from 5-6 March 2016.
A Stakeholders’ Workshop was held on 6 March at the BMDA. The main guests for the event were Dr. Md. Akhram Hossain Chowdhury, Chairman, BMDA and Prof. Dr. Chowdhury Sarwar Jahan, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Rajshahi University.
The workshop was attended by 39 participants from numerous government departments, local universities, NGOs and CG Centres. The program included an overview of the development activities of the BMDA, introduction to UTFI concepts, case studies, and technical planning for the UTFI piloting. To sum up the workshop, Dr. Md. Akhram Hossain Chowdhury, said “The project is of high merit which addresses some of the core challenges of the region.” He has pledged to give the full support of his Authority and to help showcase UTFI’s work at the highest levels of government.
The project team with support of BMDA officers made visits to numerous ‘Beels’ (low-lying depressions during flooding,) within the floodplain of the Mahananda River in the Chapai Nawabganj area where inundation for much of the year only allows a single paddy crop to be grown. Draining part of the Beel – whilst enabling the lowest areas to be used for year-round fisheries – will intensify crop production, offset significant depletion which has emerged across the Barind Tract in recent decades, and reduce drainage to rivers that contribute to downstream flooding. During 2016, baseline studies will be carried out to understand the hydrology, geology and agricultural practices within the Beel in greater detail before progressing into pilot trials in 2017.