Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Three sides of the delta

The last two weeks the research team enjoyed an excellent time in Bangladesh. I’d like to share with you some personal impressions and lessons learned from the trip.

The workshop on the 2nd of December confirmed the interest in and opportunities for research on greener flood management solutions and strategies, from a Bangladesh perspective. Especially in the parallel discussion it showed that this would fill a gap between water related research versus more environmental related research. On the other hand, it also became clear that the terminology needs some tuning: despite attempt to define ‘green flood management’ it was still understood in multiple ways; as in green economy (solutions contributing to sustainable economic growth), green growth (measure to ensure higher agricultural production to feed the country), to considering the environmental impacts of planned flood infrastructures. So, my first task is to re-check terminology and possible alternative formulations of the research theme.

The second part of the trip involved field visits to the Jessore-Khulna region. It was great to have an impression of the delta, which reminded me also about my work in Vietnam some years ago. Very remarkable to see (nearly) the same practices, rice and fish production, similar kind of houses, and the general 'delta looks'. We visited some of the beels in which Tidal River Management is on-going, took place or is planned. TRM is a nice example of ecosystem-based flood management, as the practice departs from the dynamics in the river and broader ecosystem functioning simultaneously. Especially the social dimension of TRM is interesting: people developing, hijacking, promoting, opposing the concept. I also enjoyed the discussions with Mahmouda, Farhana and Arjen on our individual research plans and shared interests. We also had a intensive session in which we developed an outline for a joint paper.

To conclude this short story, for me the trip ‘joined’the three sides of the delta: the Netherlands, Vietnam and Bangladesh.

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