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Integrated Water Resources Management

Since 1975 the Netherlands and Bangladesh have an intensive bilateral co-operation program in the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) sector. Since 1997 the IWRM sector is one of the three sectors of the bilateral development co-operation program. The Embassy is actively working with Governmental and non-governmental organisations towards the objectives of sound water management, as formulated most recently in the National Water Management Plan of 2004

The following is made up of two sections:

The Netherlands contribution to implementation of the National Water Management Plan

The bilateral co-operation program in the water sector consists of sectoral and sub-sectoral activities.

Sectoral activities, that aim at the sector as a whole, focus on institutional reform and capacity building.

In addition to a number of concrete projects (listed below), the Netherlands Embassy chairs the working group on water management of the Local Consultative Group (LCG), which seeks to coordinate the activities of all development partners.

Another activity that is relevant to the entire sector is the regional dialogue. In view of the fact that water management in Bangladesh is highly dependent on co-riparian states, a sound dialogue and cooperation is essential. The Embassy seeks to promote the dialogue between Bangladesh and its neighbors. Civil society leaders can play an important role in this dialogue.

At sub-sectoral level the Embassy supports two groups of activities, in the respective areas of Integrated Coastal Zone Management, and Water Supply and Sanitation.

Partnerships exist with the key institutions in this sector, in order to further strengthen their capacity in terms of policy development, institutional set-up, planning of activities and budgetary planning. The activities under the current sub-sectoral programmes will gradually be embedded in the partnerships with the institutions concerned. Proposed new activities will be selected, among other things, on the basis of their potential to enhance the capacity of the institution concerned or for their specific added value for strengthening the partnership relation.

Selected institutions could ultimately become eligible for organisational budget support, as an interim phase between project support and sector support. Towards that end, approved long-term strategic plans and annual plans need to be developed, reflecting the Government of Bangladesh' development priorities and budgets. In recent years the key institutions in the sector supported by the Embassy have been the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB), the Water Resources Planning Organisation (WARPO), and the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED).

Sector Level Programs

Integrated Planning for Sustainable Water Management (IPSWAM)

This project is implemented by the BWDB and runs from 2003 to 2008. It aims to strengthen planning capacity both of local water management organizations and local government bodies as well as national bodies, notably the BWDB. The program is encouraging a decentralized approach that is fully integrated in the BWDB, making full use of zonal offices for multi-disciplinary, participatory planning for sustainable operation and maintenance of water management infrastructure.

Small Scale Water Resources Development Sector Project (SSWRDSP)

Small-scale water resources development is about transferring flood control, drainage and irrigation schemes of less than 1000 ha to local water management organisations and local government bodies. The project is implemented by LGED and funded by ADB and the Netherlands. As from 2002 this program is nationwide (with the exception of the Chittagong Hill tracts), and will continue till 2009.

Twinning Mission

Since 2001, the Ministry of Water Resources and its Netherlands counterpart, the Ministry of Transport and Water Management, have been cooperating in the area of institutional strengthening. Professionals from both countries are looking at ways and means to rationalise the water management institutions, notably WARPO and BWDB. The arrangement has been extended upto 2007.

Sub-sector Level Programs

Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM)

Since Independence the Netherlands Bangladesh development cooperation program in the water sector has concentrated on the coastal areas and in particular the Meghna delta. The Netherlands contribution to Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) focuses on integrated water management and environmental aspects.
From 2002-2005, the Embassy funded a Program Development Office (PDO) at the Water Resources Planning Organisation, an agency of the Minister of Water Resources, which co-ordinated policy development on ICZM. As a result, the Cabinet adopted the Coastal Zone Policy and the Coastal Development Strategy. A huge body of knowledge on problems and opportunities in the coastal zone was produced under this project ( A new phase of ICZM is in preparation, the objective of which is to team up donor and GoB agencies in a subsectorwide approach, that would transcend and replace (current) project modalities.
In the meantime, a number of currently ongoing Dutch funded projects in the coastal zone contribute to integrated coastal zone management:

  • The Char Development and Settlement Project III (2005-09), which combines efforts at institutionalising the integrated approach with direct poverty reduction in coastal chars. As in the previous phases, the project brings together a number of line departments, headed by the Bangladesh Water Development Board, as well as the NGO BRAC, in a joint effort aiming at the poorest sections of society.

  • The Estuary Development Project (2006-10) is implemented by the Banladesh Water Development Board. It will carry out an extensive marine survey in the entire coastal zone and a number of pilot engineering interventions (anti-erosion works, cross dams).

  • The Market Infrastructure Development Project in Charland Regions (2006-13), with the Local Government Engineering Department as implementing agency, is funded by a loan from IFAD (the UNs agricultural bank) and a grant from the Netherlands. It aims to improve market access of poor farmers in the coastal chars, not only by improving the physical infrastructure (roads and markets) but also by providing business development services. This programme ties in with the conviction, shared by the Netherlands and Bangladesh, that the private sector has an important role to play in the development process. This project was designed to complement CDSP, mentioned above.

BRAC/Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme

While most Netherlands funded activities in the water sector are in water management, the single largest contribution is to a project in water supply and sanitation. BRAC has developed, in partnership with the Netherlands, a nationwide programme in which the MDGs related to water, sanitation, and hygiene for all are addressed. The programme, which runs from 2006 to 2011, will greatly improve the health situation of the poor. WASH will provide 17.6 million people in 150 upazillas all over the country with access to sanitation services. Also, more than 8.5 million people will be provided with safe drinking water. The program seeks to work together with the private sector, for instance through village sanitation centres. Awareness raising plays an important role in this program.

South-west Area Integrated Water Resources Management Project (SW-project)

This project, co-funded with the Asian Development Bank, aims to improve the productivity and sustainability of the existing flood control and drainage and irrigation (FCD/I) schemes while strengthening the institutions that are responsible for service delivery. It runs from 2006-20013 and involves the Ministry of Water Resources, the Ministry of Land, Finance Division, Planning Commission, Bangladesh Water Development Board, Water Resources Planning Organization, Local Government Engineering Department, Department of Public Health Engineering, and departments concerned with agricultural extension, cooperatives, and fishery, representatives of local government institutions. The South-West region has the most acute water management problems in Bangladesh. Of particular concern is the water shortage and the associated social and environmental hardships, including salinity intrusion, livelihood loss, and environmental degradation. Also the flood inflow from the Ganges in the monsoon, deterioration of existing FCD/I systems, the drainage congestion and sedimentation of tidal channels, arsenic contamination and vulnerability to cyclones and tidal surges are huge challenges, that this project seeks to address.

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