Building learning alliance to address climate change issues in the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta

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To form a network of diverse stakeholders within the region that has an interest to address climate-related issues in the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta, the CGIAR Research Initiative on Asian Mega-Deltas (AMD) conducted a Learning Alliance workshop in the provinces of Khulna and Patuakhali in Bangladesh.

The Learning Alliance workshop aimed to: understand the main production constraints due to climate change impacts; identify opportunities (technology options) to address production constraints; and assess the stakeholders who are relevant for addressing the problems.

There were 30 and 35 participants who attended the workshops in Khulna and Patuakhali, respectively. Providing the core members of the Learning Alliance, the participants represented different stakeholders’ groups, such as government agencies, farmers, private sector, as well as NGOs and researchers.

Through a Problem Tree analysis, the participants identified the main production constraints due to climate impacts that they have experienced and broke down these broader problems into component parts. In Khulna, the participants identified scarcity/ water management problems, salinity, and lack of freshwater as the key challenges of crop production in the polder areas. In Patuakhali, on the other hand, the participants listed a variety of problems, including issues on seed quality, water management, input management, salinity, and market.

For the workshop in Khulna, AMD intended to build on the interventions under the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification (SIIL), a bilateral project of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and United States Agency for International Development. Dr. Manoranjan Mondal gave a presentation on the ‘Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Cropping Intensification in the Southwest Coastal Polder Zone of Bangladesh’ as a way of sharing key learnings, opportunities, and technology options from the SIIL project that can be scaled out.

Based on the previous workshop activities and list of technology options, the participants prioritized the opportunities that can be included in the initial activities of the Learning Alliance. In Khulna, the participants selected shift in cropping plan and water management, canal re-excavation and river restoration, and high yielding variety + mixed crops as the priorities. While in Patuakhali, the priorities identified are canal re-excavation, repair of sluice gate, and integrated training on farmer system.

In the Stakeholder Analysis and Mapping exercise, different stakeholders were identified by the participants and were organized by category, such as 1) policy stakeholders, 2) farmers and farmer groups, 3) stakeholders providing support services, and 4) extension staff and researchers. Using network mapping, the participants were able to understand the linkages of and between stakeholders in terms of knowledge, finance, and services.

In Patuakhali, a Visioning exercise was done to identify the materials needed and the initial list of stakeholders to be engaged for all the technologies prioritized. Common technologies or activities include water management (in relation to sluicegate) and integrated training on farming system.

For the next steps, the participants recommended to invite those not included in the first event to the succeeding Learning Alliance meetings for them to provide inputs and contribute to the discussion. Participants were also asked to anticipate experiments to be conducted on the ground under AMD which will give a chance for participants to gather, learn and discuss these experiments. It is hoped that the stakeholders of both Khulna and Patuakhali Learning Alliances to work together in exchanging information and learnings. For example, collaborations with East West Foundation which links seed systems with vegetable production, or with the OneCGIAR Mixed Farming Systems Initiative can yield synergies for enabling diversified food systems in the delta.

The workshop was facilitated by IRRI staff from the AMD and SIIL teams with support from the Bangladesh country offices of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center World Fish and International Potato Center.

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