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DRAFT

Natural Resource Management Workshop

Trends in Natural Resource Management in Bangladesh:


Looking for Integration and a New Institutional Framework
by
1
A. Atiq Rahman ,
1 1 2
D. L. Mallick , Nasimul Haque & Ainun Nishat

Date: 10 October 2002


Venue: Sonargaon Hotel, Dhaka

Organized by: Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS)


Supported by: Department for International Development (DFID), Bangladesh

1
Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS)
2
The World Conservation Union (IUCN), Bangladesh Country Office

BANGLADESH CENTRE FOR ADVANCED STUDIES


House # 23, Road # 10A, Dhanmondi R/A, Dhaka- 1209, Bangladesh
Ph. (880-2) 8115829, 8113977, 9119823, 9113682 ; Fax: (880-2) 8111344, 8118206
E-mail: bcas@bdonline.com ; Website: www.bcas.net
Content

1. INTRODUCTION.......................................................................................................1

Setting the Scene ...........................................................................................................1


Poverty and Sustainable Development ...........................................................................1
Informal Economy and Livelihood Portfolios ..................................................................1
Much Investment is Missing the Poor: A story ...............................................................2
Poverty – Natural Resource Nexus.................................................................................2
Background and Focus of the Paper ..............................................................................3

2. LINKAGES BETWEEN NATURAL RESOURCES AND POPULATION,


LIVELIHOOD, POVERTY AND DEVELOPMENT PROCESS ...................................4

Population and Natural Resources.................................................................................4


Poverty and Natural Resources .....................................................................................6
Rural Livelihood and Natural Resources ........................................................................7
Linkages between NRs and Development Process ...........................................................8

3. NATURAL RESOURCES BASE: PRODUCTIVITY AND TREND OF DEGRADATION.....9

Land Resources ............................................................................................................9


Water Resources ........................................................................................................ 10
Fisheries ................................................................................................................... 11
Forests...................................................................................................................... 11
Bio-diversity.............................................................................................................. 12
Agricultural Productivity ........................................................................................... 13

4. PARADIGM SHIFT IN NATURAL RESOURCES MANAGEMENT: PEOPLE’S


PARTICIPATION AND SUSTAINABLE USES OF NRS ........................................... 15

Introduction .............................................................................................................. 15
Natural Resource Management : The wider context ..................................................... 16
New institutional Arrangement for Sustainable Resources Management ........................ 18
Managing Natural Resource & Livelihood: An Analytical Framework .......................... 21
Basic Principle.......................................................................................................... 22
Livelihood outcomes desired ...................................................................................... 23
Livelihood strategies chosen ....................................................................................... 23
Implementation.......................................................................................................... 23
Natural Resource Management : The wider context ..................................................... 25
Trends in Natural Resource Management: Bangladesh NRM Workshop Paper Series # 2

5. CONCLUSIONS ...................................................................................................... 27

Need of a Better Understanding of Poverty /Natural Resource Management and Linkages ... 27
Need for Pro-poor Planning ....................................................................................... 27
Integration Need in urban setting. ............................................................................... 27
Integration in Investment and Donor Participation ...................................................... 28
Peoples Participation and Synergies ........................................................................... 28
Enhancing Community Mobilization ........................................................................... 29
Increasing Access of the Poor ..................................................................................... 29
Increasing Services, Support and Investment ............................................................... 29
Enhanced Market Access ............................................................................................ 29
Micro-Macro Linkages .............................................................................................. 30
Towards Integrated and More Responsive Institutional Framework .............................. 30
Enhanced Peoples Participation at Local Level ........................................................... 30
External Connectedness ............................................................................................. 31
Better Local Government ........................................................................................... 31
Better Governance Practices and Reducing Corruption ............................................... 31
Ensuring Access to Existing Resource and Investment .................................................. 31
Catalyst and connectors ............................................................................................. 31
Enhancing and Rewarding Sustainable Use and Conservation Practices ....................... 31
Respecting and Integrating Indigenous Knowledge ...................................................... 32
Towards an Institutional Framework on NRM ............................................................. 32
Looking Ahead .......................................................................................................... 32

6. REFERENCES: ....................................................................................................... 33
Trends in Natural Resource Management: Bangladesh NRM Workshop Paper Series # 2

Trends in Natural Resources Management in Bangladesh:


Looking for a New Institutional Framework

1. INTRODUCTION

Setting the Scene

Almost all planning documents in Bangladesh focuses on poverty alleviation as the key thrust of
planning. All political party manifestos highlight poverty reduction as the main objective. After thirty
years of independence vast majority of the population remain below the poverty line. There has been
some reduction in poverty. But at this rate of poverty reduction even the millennium goal of reducing
Bangladesh poverty by half % by 2015 seems ambitious unless very focused policies and implementation
are undertaken. The global system has increasingly recognized poverty reduction as the central issue of
development strategies. So poverty has entered the mainstream of global discourse.

Poverty and Sustainable Development

Recently held World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) recognized poverty reduction as a
central tenet of achieving sustainable development. International Financial Institution such as The World
Bank and Asian Development Bank have declared themselves as “poverty banks”. Is this a genuine shift
of priorities in favour of the poor or a new recognition that previous thrust on market and trickle down
economic policies falls far short of achieving global or national objectives of poverty reduction.

The Global Forum on Environment and Poverty (GFEP) in its Declaration on Poverty and Environment
initiated at Rio during UNCED has surmised that “there can be no sustainable development without
eradication of poverty”. The latest mechanism seems to be PRSP (Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper) as
an integrating approach for poverty reduction. Why poverty reduction is so elusive?

Despite all these efforts and priority setting, why getting a handle of poverty reduction has been so
elusive? Getting out of poverty essentially entails access to higher amounts of financial resources, to
goods and services including access to institution, participation, decision-making and social justice.

Financial resources can be reached by the poor through wages earned or access to provisions from natural
resources such as agriculture, water, forestry and fisheries. Reduction of vulnerability of the poor from
illnesses, natural disasters, social exploitation, repressive policies does not create wealth but reduces the
pressures of poverty and loss of wealth.

The low resource base, small internal market, low purchasing power of the poor, absence of good
governance and effective local government, low level of skilled personnel, low literacy rate, lack of
national, political consensus and continuity of major policie s, degrading natural resource base, inadequate
performance of many projects, poor law and order at home global financial instability and political
insecurity – all these combine to create a various cycle of continuation of poverty. This is despite some
brave attempts by government and non-government sectors to reduce poverty systematically.

Informal Economy and Livelihood Portfolios

Many of the transaction that the poor undertake are in the informal economy and informal sectors. Hence
the long arm of most policy formulation does not help the poor in their informal or non-monetary
transactions. Many of these transactions are in the realm of managing livelihood portfolios rather than in
the arena of formal paid jobs and monetary transactions.

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Most policies tends to operate in the realm of formal structures. Hence the rich or at least those who are in
the formal financial exchanges can benefit from these policies. The poor having no purchasing power
have little access or linkages to these formal structures and is left out of the benefits of most policies.
Mostly policies or delivery that is focused towards the poor have some probability of reading them.

Much Investment is Missing the Poor: A story

Despite all the constraints of low GDP and high poverty le vel, the huge investment undertaken by the
government and its agencies often cannot be accessed by the poor. An anecdote may illustrate the
situation.

A village landless person used to eke out a living with his family of wife and three children. He managed
some irregular wage incomes from on-farm and off-farm by selling of labour part time. His wife managed
to rear three goats and twelve chickens and was member of a NGO mobilization group. One tragic day
when the man was going to look for a job a truck ran over and killed him. The local community caught
the truck but the driver managed to escape.

The local leaders, NGO workers agreed that to get some justice and redress for the poor family. The
decision was that the wife of the dece4ased person would have to enter a General Dairy with the Police as
the first step to enter the formal legal process.

The wife was hesitant, reluctant and finally decided not to go to the police. When the villagers tried to
understand her logic and thinking, she explained: “My husband is dead. I will not going to get him back.
His little income is also lost. If I go to the police, they will come to investigate. On each occasion I will
have to slaughter a goat. All my goats and chicken will be lost to feed the police. Let me not lose them.
Let me not lose them. I will try to eke out a living and feed my children from the natural resources around
me. Whatever I get!”

Government seems to invest on a member of sectors. Investment in providing security (such as police)
and legal infrastructure often bypass the poor. The poor hardly get much in the form of legal or
institutional protection from these formal structures. The huge investment in power generation and
electricity provision is beyond the access of the poor, as even if the services are available, the poor do not
have the purchasing power to get the benefit of these services to light their houses. Similarly, in the health
sector investment in clinic, hospital or doctors hardly is accessible to the poor. Hence sectoral investment,
and even improving efficiency is not enough. It must be poor sensitive and focused on the poor. Hence as
far as the poor are concerned, the huge sectoral investment has hardly any direct impact though only a
few indirect benefits can come their way.

Poverty – Natural Resource Nexus

Thus poor depend on natural resources – land , water, crops, fish, trees, fruits, vegetables both from land
and water, poultry, livestock as their main resources to manage their livelihood portfolios. Any
degradation and loss of access to natural resources deprives them of their livelihood potential. Hence
poverty-environment must form a key nexus in any policy discourse in Bangladesh.

Any natural disasters, health hazards affect the poor most as their low nutritional intake make them most
vulnerable. If they could manage any savings, their illnesses wipe them out rapidly. So cumulation of
wealth is not an option and using the market to purchase anything beyond absolute minimum becomes
difficult. Natural resources offer them only recourse of gathering useable goods. Environment provides
them the services.

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Background and Focus of the Paper

Bangladesh was very rich in natural resources including fertile land, water, fisheries, forestry, biodiversity
and agricultural productivity in few decades ago. But in recent years, the natural resources (NRs) base has
been greatly depleted due to mainly anthropogenic factors e.g., growth of population, increasing demand
of food for the large rural population, indiscriminate use of agro-chemical, unplanned industrialization
and urbanization etc. The country also lacks a sound institutional framework that can ensure to achieve
the twin goals of achieving sustainable natural resources management (NRM) as well as livelihoods of the
vast majority rural poor.

The DFID’s country strategy review for Bangladesh (2002) stresses that during the last ten years, there
has been a significant diversification in the rural economy. Small trade, services and off-farm processing
and manufacturing have risen in importance. However, agriculture and fisheries remain critical to the
livelihoods of many poor, both for self and wage employment. Further, the process of diversification of
rural economy and livelihood options still greatly rely on growth of agriculture and the productivity of
NRs including land, water, fisheries, forestry etc.

A fragmented and ineffective approach of NRM coupled with a weak institutional framework result in
degradation and low productivity of resources. Further, policies and institutions to take control over the
already degraded resources base generated lot of conflicts in access to and use of NRs, where the poor
and the marginal people are continuously losing their traditional rights and entitlement to the resources.
On the other hand, the rich and the power elites are increasingly gaining greater control over the
resources, who very often overexploit the resources without considering the future productivity and
sustainability of the resources base.

In the past, the poor and common people would take substantial livelihood supports from the NRs in
terms of food and fodder, nutrition, housing materials, health seeking, protection from natural disaster
etc., as well as they conserved the resources for generations. But in the present situation, the traditional
safety nets of the poor provided by the NRs have been seriously eroded. The productivity and the
capacity of the NRs has also been greatly declined and thus the livelihood of the poor are at a stake and
they would face greater food insecurity and vulnerability.

Bangladesh has made significant progress in reducing poverty over the last 20 years, but still quite a large
number of people live in poverty (i.e., over 65 millions in poverty and about 30 millions in extreme
poverty). Despite the severity of poverty and the magnitude of economic, environmental, social and
political challenges, there have been good prospects of Bangladesh meeting most of the Millennium
Development Goals (MDG). This could be achieved through putting greater focus on the extreme poor,
addressing their vulnerability, promoting access of the poor to resources and market and addressing
institutional constraints including those of local government (DFID, 2002).

In this context, there is a pressing need to understand the dynamics of the NRs and find links between
NRs, rural livelihood and poverty. Hence, the question is – in what institutional setting the vast majority
of the rural poor can take livelihood supports from the NRs as well as they can conserve and regenerate
the resources bases given the existing socio-economic and political settings? Most importantly –how a
new institutional approach and arrangement consider the key important issues of NRM e.g., entitlement,
property right, conflict management, conservation, access of poor to NRs, productivity, benefit sharing
and livelihood of the poor etc.?

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This paper primarily focuses on NRs base, productivity of resources, trends and causes of resources
degradation. It will also try to find vital links between NRs, population, livelihood, poverty and
development efforts. Another important focus of the paper would be to analyze the emerging changes and
shifts in resources management paradigms. Finally, the paper will look for an appropriate institutional
arrangement for sustainable natural resources management, where all the actors including poor,
community, government and development partners can work together to achieving the broad goal of
poverty alleviation.

This paper primarily aims to stimulate a discussion and get responses from the workshop participants and
engage them in a dialog, which is why the first part is dedicated to a state of accounts of our past and
current institutional arrangement, policy environment and practices with regard to the management of
natural resources in Bangladesh.

However, the focus of the paper is not so much on reviewing and identifying the landmarks and salient
features of the scope, extent and impact of past and current management practices. On the contrary, it is to
point out where and what needs to be done, and by whom, if natural resources need to be managed for the
sake of peoples’ livelihoods, then the need to manage the biodiversity of the ecosystem also becomes of
paramount importance. This is more particularly for those who in the near past had been more fortunate in
terms of access, ownership or control over these than they are now. The paper goes on to argue that long-
term policies and measures must be undertaken immediately if the nation aims to secure sustained
livelihood for its teeming majority. The signs of what future awaits for us is discernable from the trends
so far. The picture is not very bright or promising, as more awaits to join the ranks of the vulnerable
community with less and less natural and physic al capital to address survival needs as we continue our
journey onward in a business-as-usual scenario.

Sets of proposals have been forwarded in the last section. These outline the necessary policy and
institutional reforms that may be required to mainstream natural resource access as rights of communities
and people. Only people who directly depend on natural resources for survival and livelihood will
safeguard their resource base, given that they have an opportunity to enhance and practice the capacity
required to perform their responsibilities. It is to create an enabling environment for such opportunities to
evolve that we consider the government and development partners can be best effective.

2. LINKAGES BETWEEN NATURAL RESOURCES AND POPULATION, LIVELIHOOD,


POVERTY AND DEVELOPMENT PROCESS

Population and Natural Resources

There have been manifolds inter-linkages between natural resources and the key actors and process of the
society such as population, livelihood, poverty and development process. Population of a country at a
period of time, has a number of quantitative (size, growth and spatial distribution) and qualitative
characteristics including age-structure, health, education, skill, income and consumption patterns which have
both negative and positive impacts on natural resources, production systems and on environment.

The physical environment surrounding the population, which provides substance to the population
comprising of land, water, flora, fauna, air and sun also have quantitative and qualitative dimensions, which
sometime shape the structure of a population of a country and influence their behavior and activities for
achieving their livelihood. On the other hand, people develop specific social systems; institutions and
technologies to interact with their natural system sand the environment to gain livelihood supports.

It is viewed that as population enlarges, there is smaller amount of per person natural resources such as water,
arable land and forest. More people means more exploitation of natural resources leading to degradation of

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environment. Under a changing situation, a growing population means smaller allocation of resources
resulting low productivity of food and goods, less drinking water, less sweet water for agriculture and
industrial activities, and hygiene may become less and less healthy due to increasing contamination by human
uses and waste generation. This population, natural resources and environment downward spiral destroys the
development potential of a country and makes it unsustainable. The actions and interactions of people, natural
resources, environment and development could be understood in the following figure-1.

Figure –1: Primary Linkages of Population- Natural Resources, Environment and Development

People

Environment Development

Natural Resources

Source: BCAS (1998), Population and Environment in Bangladesh, a paper presented at the IUCN-
Bangladesh

A very simple interaction between population and environment is that high growth of population may lead to
over consumption of natural resources and degradation of ecosystem and environmental potentials but this
relationship could be further aggravated by a number of other social factors which may include the following:

?? The economic systems based on high rates of resources consumption, environmentally damaging trade
practices and lack of environmental accounting;

?? Widespread poverty and unsustainable development efforts;

?? Women’s inequity and the large unmet need for quality reproductive healthcare and family planning;

?? Lack of educational, employment and income opportunity;

?? Under-utilization of environmentally sound and locally appropriate technology; and

?? Lack of people’s participation in resources management; and

?? Inadequate understanding of people about the natural systems (Huq et al, 2000).

In addition to population pressure, many observers and analysts also point to the contribution of poverty
to resource overuse and environmental degradation. Clearly, there is a relationship between poverty and
environmental stresses; the poor are forced to address short-term needs, even if their actions contribute to
the long-term depletion and degradation of the resource. And the poor are often the most vulnerable and
least able to cope with environmental changes and the impacts of “natural” disasters and hazards. It is
argued that one can reasonably ask if population pressure have not added to the stresses on natural
resources and promoted their overuse and the subsequent decline in productivity of those resources, just at

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time when higher levels of production has grown- thereby exacerbating the problem of over use and the
depletion of the a finite resources base. It is evident that extremely high population density of Bangladesh
has contributed to the intense use or over use of land, water, fisheries, and forest resources (WRI, 1990).

Poverty and Natural Resources

The inter-relationships between poverty and natural resources are very important in the development
agenda. Many observe that very often, poverty is associated with a heavy dependence on NRs, which
causes to degrade NRs, ecosystems and environment. There is different opinion and many felt that poor
has limited access to the NRs and they can take very little for their livelihood support at present. Thus
they are naively blamed for destruction of nature, but it is the rich who are the real culprits behind the
over exploitation and destruction of natural resources by taking help of the state machineries, power elites
and business network.

Rahman (2002) says that during the last three decades, awareness of environmental degradation has led to
concerns that the poor in Bangladesh are both victims and agents of environmental damage. An over-
emphasis on the link between poverty and environmental degradation has been quite common: “poverty
and environmental degradation form a trap from which there is little change to escape… it is on the
environment in which the poor live and from which they draw their sustenance.”

Any discussion of the relationship between natural resources and poverty has to include a consideration of
access by the poor to common property resources (CPRs). It is argued that consumption items from
CPRs accounted for a significant percentage of their income but that the scope for such expenditure
savings through collection of firewood, jute sticks, fruits, vegetables and fish decreased substantially
recently. Gradual encroachment of wetlands by private owners, and the commercial leasing of water-
bodies, are reducing poor people’s access to CPRs and have a significant adverse effect on livelihoods
and, specifically, on the nutritional status of the poor. It is clear that systematic efforts are required to
increase poor households’ access to CPR. Also, local government institutions might be able to take the
lead in developing integrated resource plans. However, it also should not be forgotten that greater access
to natural resources is by no means a sufficient condition for graduation from poverty. Production
relations based on natural resources are often exploitative and perpetuate poverty among communities.
Some of the poorest groups in rural Bangladesh are tribal and fishing groups who eke out a living from
natural resources (Rahman, 2002).

Rahman and Mallick (2001) argue that rural poor, who have ownership of some land, manage the
problems by maximizing the production and intensifying and diversifying crops by optimizing
seasonality, variation in precipitation and land types. Those who have only a homestead they try to
maximize horticulture, poultry, livestock rearing and cow fattening etc. Depending on agro-ecological
zones and seasons many poor households face biomass shortage. The women and children are engaged in
collecting twigs, leaves and virtually all components of biomass such as agricultural wastes, cow-dung
etc. For more efficient use, the women often make dung cakes combining agricultural wastes and on jute
sticks or twigs skeleton and dry them in the sun. This enables them for earlier storage of energy for rainy
seasons when dry biomass fuel belong a major problem.

The fishers, approximately ten percent of Bangladesh poor, are rapidly losing their livelihood due to
depletion of fish habitat in open water fisheries. The fishers travel longer distances to eke out a living or
pay increasing rental fees to legal and illegal occupants of the water bodies. The rural poor have very little
support from legal or law enforcing agencies. Local village chiefs, religious leaders and sometimes
organized NGOs and community activities are arbiters of local resource based conflicts. Often poor get a
raw deal in these conflict arbitration. The formal institutions such as police or legal system hardly support
the rights of poor’s access to common property resources.

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Rural Livelihood and Natural Resources

The rural livelihood mainly depends on land and land based production systems and sub-systems including
agriculture, horticulture, fisheries etc., but in the very recent years, there has been a trend of diversification of
rural economy in Bangladesh and the rural people take a substantial livelihood support from non-farm
activities. Despite the changes and new dynamics in rural economy, still the main stay of the vast majority of
the rural people directly and indirectly depends on agriculture. In this context, agriculture remains the major
sector of the economy and is critically dependent on the management and exploitation of natural
resources through crop production, fish cries, livestock and forestry. Much of the industrial sector also
depends on the processing of agricultural products, while a significant part of the services such as trade
and transport provide marketing services to agriculture. Natural resources thus play a key role in the
economy and the livelihoods of rural people.

Rahman and Mallick (2001) in their paper for DFID Bangladesh have shown the emerging trend of
diversification of rural economy and livelihood and a rural-urban continuum. They observe that there have
been serious efforts in diversification of crops, horticultural products, a significant increase in poultry and
livestock and aquaculture. Further, the rural products have got increasing market access stimulated by a better
road communication, introduction of rickshaws and vans into rural settings. In many parts of the country, the
river and canal based navigation has also had dramatic boost from the introduction of mechanized boats
(though siltaion has closed many rivers and canals to navigation). Thus the rural economy is increasingly
linked with the external worlds and the options for livelihood of many rural people have further been opened
up to a great extend. The BIDS and DFID (2001) have also shown this trend in a recent book entitled, Hands
not Land: How Livelihoods are Changing in Rural Bangladesh.

The sustainable livelihood framework developed by DFID included five capital i.e., natural capital, human
capital, financial capital, physical capital and social capital, where natural capital (e.g. natural resources) has a
very important role (ODI, Natural Resources Perspectives, 1999). These five capitals are transformed by a
range of policies and process and institutions into outcomes, which if favorable, lead to the accumulation of
further assets with greater good, services and well being for the family and community.

The increasing population has substantially lowered the ratio of land to people and, more importantly, has
resulted in land-use moving from directly productive purposes, such as crop cultivation, to other uses
such as housing and roads and urban development. While official statistics sometimes portray a
conflicting picture, this loss of cultivable land is a reality as repeat visits to a village over successive years
testify (BBS 1999, 2000). This trend of land loss for homesteads and other purposes is expected to
continue in the medium-term future. Land is the basic natural resource that provides habitat and
sustenance for living organisms, as well as being a major focus of economic and livelihood activities.
Degradation of land refers to loss of its potential production capability as a result of degradation of soil
quality and also its loss for effective use. Unfortunately, about 58% people of Bangladesh are functionally
landless and over 20% are absolutely landless. Among the landholders, 80% are small farmers, 18% are
medium farmers and only 2% are large farmers (SDNP, 2002). The major economic and livelihood
activities are based on the productivity and use of land such as agriculture, horticulture, fisheries,
livestock, home gardening.

Bangladesh has both scarcity and abundances of water. The demands for fresh water for different sectoral
uses such as agriculture, fisheries, navigation, industry, domestic uses and for other livelihood activities
have increased greatly in the recent years with the gradual increase of population and expansion of
economic activities. It is gradually being transformed into an economic good from a common property
resource and there have been competitions among different users and stakeholders to access and use
water. Khan (2000) cautioned that in the emerging market economy, water would be priced where the

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moneyed people like industrialists would have more access on water for industry and the poor and
farmers would get less amount of water for agriculture and their livelihood activities.

The fisheries sub-sector contributes about 10 per cent to agriculture GDP and three per cent to total GDP.
The main two divisions of the Bangladesh Fisheries sub-sector are the inland and marine fisheries. Of the
total inland waters of 4.3 million hectares, 65.3 percent are flood plain, 3.8 per cent are ponds and 3.2 per
cent are coastal farms. The three great rivers Ganga/Padma, Jamuna/Brahmaputra and the Meghna along
with 7,000 rivers and streams cover 22,155 km length. In addition to the regular inland waters, a large
part of the country remains seasonally submerged for 3-4 months during monsoon. Millions of rural poor
and marginal people gain their partial livelihood support from fisheries sector while over one million are
full time fishers who maintain their livelihood from the already depleted open water fisheries resources.

Bangladesh is a forest-poor country and the forest cover has shrunk to merely six per cent today from
about 18% in 1927 (Gain, 2002). This has serious consequences on local environment and the forest
dwelling communities. As a sub-sector of agriculture in Bangladesh, forestry makes a contribution to the
national economy and is supposed to contribute to ecological stability. A section of very poor and tribal in
Chittagong Hill Tracts, greater Khulna district, greater Sylhet district, Dhaka, Mymensingh and Tangail
districts take livelihood supports from forest resources. Homestead gardening and street site plantation is
an emerging practice and many poor households collect cooking fuel from the forest resources.

Bangladesh is a transitional zone of flora and fauna, because of its geographical settings and climate
characteristics. This country is rich in fish and aquatic resources, and other biodiversity. Bangladesh’s
inland water bodies are known to be the habitat of 266 species of indigenous fish, 13 exotic fish, 56
prawns, about 26 freshwater mollusks, and 150 birds (The State of Environment Bangladesh, 2001). The
Sundarbans, a world heritage has been very rich in plants, animals and aquatic resources. The country’s
agriculture, fisheries, livestock along with other sub-sectors are heavily dependent on bio-logical
resources. Further, common people of Bangladesh collect food and fodder for household consumption
from the biological resources. In the recent decades, the biological resources have greatly been depleted
due to over exploitation backed by commercial and vested interests.

Linkages between NRs and Development Process

The development activities and process including development of communication, urbanization,


industrializations, growth of agriculture have direct impact on NRs i.e., land, water and forestry. In
Bangladesh, the resources bases are degraded by the un-coordinated planning and development of
development activities and programme. A set of people mainly the rich and power elites take the most
benefits by utilizing the political power and authority, bureaucracy and market mechanism. On the other
hand, the poor and marginal people are powerless and the most vulnerable groups in terms of economic
situation, societal and institutional setting. They often do not have enough access to resources as well as
credit facilities. They often lack in skills and essential knowledge for resource management and
technologies in a changing development process. The existing government policies of Bangladesh are
enforced in favor of a small but powerful rich and power-elites while the vast masses are deprived. These
unequal systems disbenefit the poor and marginal groups as well as the natural resources and processes.
Thus, the mismanagement of resources and unequal control of resources coupled with sometimes
counterproductive development policies and processes and increasing population and poverty are largely
responsible for environmental degradation. The multi-faceted and complex relationships of population,
NRs and development process could be further demonstrated in the following way:

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Figure-2: Secondary Linkages of Population, Natural Resources and Development

Eco-systems People Poor and Empowerment


Livelihood

Natural Participation
Resources

Resource People’s
Management Knowledge

Government & Natural Resources Big Projects


Governance and
Development
NGOs & Micro- Process Industrialization
Credit

Market Urbanization
Situation and Growth of
Communication

Behavior & Cultural Social and Rules and


Consumption Practices Value Systems Regulations
3. NATURAL RESOURCES BASE: PRODUCTIVITY AND TREND OF DEGRADATION

The following sections briefly describe the key natural resources of Bangladesh including land, water,
fisheries, forestry, biodiversity and agricultural productivity. Each section contains brief discussion on
productivity the resources as well as the trends and causes of degradation of the natural resources.

Land Resources

Bangladesh is a country of about 143,999 sq. km including inland and estuarine water surfaces and has a
population estimated at about 132 million in 2000. Although the country is predominantly a plain surface,
it is criss-crossed by a very high density of river systems. This gives the country a riverine nature. Being a
densely populated country, there has been serious competition for access to and control over land. Over
58% people are functionally landless in Bangladesh. About 17.8 million acres are cultivated land and
average household farm (those who have farm land) size is 1.5 acre. Thus, land is the most important
resource in Bangladesh and it is under intense use threatening its carrying capacity. The pressure of
population on land is a crucial factor in the management of land resources in the country. Availability of
land is a major constraints in Bangladesh as virtually all available land is utilized for crop production,
homestead, commercial establishment, road network, urban development, forestry, fishing etc. The
country lacks a comprehensive landuse policy emphasizing the most appropriate and productive use of
land.

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There have been many driving forces compelling people of Bangladesh to over exploit land. These are
high population, poverty, improper land use, absence of land policy and ineffective implementation of
laws and guidelines. Unplanned agricultural practices (use of agro-chemicals) and encroachment of forest
areas for agriculture and settlement also put pressure on scarce land resources. Further, unplanned and
unscientific rural infrastructure development and the growing demand for increasing urbanization are
devouring productive land. Natural process such as river bank erosion, siltation also cause to degrade
land.

Water Resources

The economic growth and development of Bangladesh has been all highly influenced by water – its
regional and seasonal availability, and the quality of surface and groundwater. Spatial and seasonal
availability of surface and groundwater is highly responsible to the monsoon climate and physiography of
the country. Availability also depends on upstream flow and withdrawal for consumptive and non-
consumptive uses. In terms of quality, the surface water of the country is unprotected from untreated
industrial effluents and municipal wastewater, runoff pollution from chemical fertilizers and pesticides,
and oil and lube spillage in the coastal area from the operation of sea and river ports. Water quality also
depends on effluent types and discharge quantity from different type of industries, types of agrochemicals
used in agriculture, and seasonal water flow and dilution capability by the river system.

The contribution of local rainfall to the annual surface runoff is about 25 per cent, with significant
seasonal variation. Annual rainfall and evapotranspiration of the country show that there is a substantial
excess of rainfall everywhere in the monsoon season. From the annual overall averages, dependable
rainfall exceeds evapotranspiration by over 10 per cent in most parts of the country, except in the
Northwest (NW) and Southwest (SW) regions. In the NW region, rainfall and evapotranspiration are
almost equal, but in the SW the overall deficit is about 10 per cent. From November to May,
evapotranspiration exceeds rainfall all over the country, except in the Northeast (NE) region.

The largest use of water is made for irrigation. Besides agriculture, some other uses are for domestic and
municipal water supply, industry, fishery, forestry and navigation. In addition, water is of fundamental
importance for ecology and the wider environment. Water stress occurs when the demand for water
exceeds the amount available during a certain period or when poor quality restricts its use. This frequently
occurs in areas with low rainfall and high population density or in areas where agricultural land or
industrial activities are intense. Even where sufficient long-term freshwater resources do exist, seasonal or
annual variations in the availability of freshwater may at times cause water quality degradation.

Bangladesh has two problems with water i.e., scarcity of water for agriculture, industrial and domestic uses in
the dry season and sometime, abundance of water in monsoon causes flood and natural hazards. But people
treat normal flood as boon rather than bane. It is viewed that the country would face serious scarcity of fresh
water for agriculture, industry, fisheries and other livelihood activities in near future. Three things happen;
flow of up-stream water is decreasing and ground water level is going down particularly in the dry season and
at the same time, saline water is intruding to the inland area. The water development and flood control
projects have serious negative impacts on wetlands, fisheries and on the ecosystems of some parts of the
country.

The increasing urbanization and industrialization of Bangladesh have negative implications for water quality.
The pollution from industrial and urban waste effluents, and from agrochemicals in some water bodies and
rivers has reached alarming levels. The long-term effects of this water contamination by organic and
inorganic substances, many of them toxic, are incalculable. The marine and aquatic ecosystems are affected,
and the chemicals that enter the food chain have public health implications.

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Trends in Natural Resource Management: Bangladesh NRM Workshop Paper Series # 2

Water quality in the coastal area of Bangladesh is degraded by the intrusion of saline water that has occurred
due to lean flow in the dry season. This affects agriculture significantly, as well as other consumptive uses of
the water. A common phenomenon in the lower riparian countries is that of enough water in monsoon, but
water scarcity during the dry season. It is also common in Bangladesh for areas that were once inundated
facing water scarcity in the dry season. Dry season water availability depends on water use for irrigation, dry
season rainfall and withdrawal or diversion of water upstream. It has implications for navigation, and the
wetland ecosystem and its productivity.

Fisheries

The people of Bangladesh largely depend on fish to meet their protein needs, especially the poor in rural
areas. Several decades ago there was an abundance of fish in this country. But recently, capture fish
production has declined to about 50 per cent, with a negative trend of 1.24 per cent per year. Despite the
constant depletion of the river, canal, and flood plain habitats for years, Bangladesh still holds the world’s
most diverse and abundant inland fisheries. But the availability of many species that were very popular
locally has been drastically decreased, and some are no longer found in the country. On the migration
journey to the floodplains and the return to safe sanctuaries, populations of fish now face many obstacles
and hazards, which seriously disturb reproduction in the open water and ponds (Gain, 2002).

The physical loss, shrinkage, and modification of aquatic habitats for fish, prawn, turtle and other aquatic
organisms are said to be the major factors involved in depleting fish varieties. Such loss or shrinkage of
aquatic habitats has been the result of thousands of physical structures, dikes, and drainage systems that
have been constructed in Bangladesh in an effort to control floods, cyclones, and other natural calamities.
These structures have disrupted the natural flow of waters in closed rivers, diverted rivers, and have dried up
water bodies. Such physical constructions have also changed or damaged the local ecosystems and
hydrological features, resulting in irreparable damages to fisheries resources. Studies done under the Flood
Action Plan (FAP) declared that all Flood Control Drainage (FCD) and Flood Control Drainage and
Irrigation (FCDI) projects contributed to the decline of fish stocks and fisheries by creating obstacles in the
fish migration routes. As a consequence, fish production ave declined. Land reclamation required for the
implementation of these projects has also reduced the permanent water bodies.

The extensive irrigation schemes for agricultural fields, and indiscriminate use of agrochemicals are
changing the feeding and breeding grounds of many indigenous fish species. Discharge of pollutants into
water bodies (rivers, canals, ponds, etc.) from industries, and over-fishing (especially of juvenile and brood
fishes) are highly responsible for the destruction of fish species throughout the country. Short term leasing
of haors and baors to individuals for commercial exploitation has led to many species becoming locally
extinct. This can be attributed to the practice of almost total intake of fish stocks by dewatering the water
bodies while harvesting fish. Moreover, there has been a reduction of sanctuaries for natural replenishment
of fish species throughout the country, which is another factor leading to shrinkage and destruction of
aquatic habitats.

Forests

Bangladesh is a forest poor country. The forest cover of the country has shrunk to six percent in the recent
years. But still forestry contribute to economy, livelihood of many and ecological stability. Gain P (2002)
reports that officially the Forest Department of Bangladesh is supposed to manage around 2.6million
hectares or 18 per cent of the land surface of the country, but most part without trees and plants. This is a
land mass recorded as forest land when the Forest Act of 1927 came into being. However, according to
the Forest Department’s latest information it now controls 10.3 percent of land surface (Forest
Department 2001). The largest category of the forests of Bangladesh are “reserved forests” which include
the Sundarbans (mangroves) in the southwest (601,700 ha), the CHT region in the southeast (322,331 ha)

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Trends in Natural Resource Management: Bangladesh NRM Workshop Paper Series # 2

and the Madhupur tracts in the north-central region (17,107 ha). The much smaller category of forest is
the protected forests. The basic difference between the reserved and the protected forests is that the
inhabitants in the reserved forest areas have no rights over the forest produces but in the protected forests
they have far more rights. In many cases the protected forest is an intermediate category which eventually
turns into reserved forest. The last category of forest is the unclassed state forests (USF), most in the
Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). Village common forests managed by the indigenous people in the CHT
include substantially forested portions of the USF lands.

The three main types of public forests are; (i) Tropical evergreen of semi-evergreen forest (640,000
hectares) in the eastern district of Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, Sylhet and the Chittagong Hill Tracts region
(hill forest); (ii) Moist of dry deciduous forest also known as sal (Shorea robusta) forest (122,000
hectares) located mainly in the central plains and the freshwater areas in the northeast region; and (iii)
Tidal mangrove forests along the coast (520,000 hectares)–the Sundarbans in the southwest of the Khulna
and other mangrove patches in the Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar and Noakhali coastal belt (Gain, 2002).

Population pressure is often cited as a primary reason for encroachment of forest areas and conversion of
it to crop lands. While this can sometimes be true, there are many instances of people (especially tribals)
living in harmony with forests while protecting and consuming them. Unfortunately, such traditional
practices have been lost and a more commercial approach to forest exploitation has led to large-scale
deforestation in Bangladesh over the last several decades. Natural forests throughout the country are
increasingly being depleted. Various types of development activity, such as dikes, highway, road
construction, and other infrastructure development have further intensified deforestation, and destruction
of natural forests in Bangladesh. Briefly, the other causes of deforestation are listed below. The State of
the Environment report of Bangladesh (2001) listed the following factors of degradation of forest
resources.

?? Shifting cultivation (Jhum), and inappropriate utilization of forest resources,


?? Overgrazing, illegal felling, and fuel wood collection,
?? Uncontrolled and wasteful commercial exploitation of forest resources,
?? Monoculture and commercial plantation,
?? High population pressure on forestlands,
?? Conversion of forests and wetlands for agricultural use,
?? Poverty and unemployment in the rural areas, and
?? Encroachment into forestland.

Bio-diversity

Bangladesh possesses good terrestrial and aquatic environment that provides habitat for large number of
plants, animals and birds. The country has been very rich in biodiversity. The rivers and other inland water
bodies provide habitats for 266 indigenous fish species and 150 birds. In Bangladesh, 22 species of
Amphibians have been recorded by the IUCN-B in 2000. Some of these are economically important and
thus are being exploited commercially. Until the early eighties many traders in the country were exporting
frog legs in large quantities. Most of the frogs were collected from the wild, and exported as a frozen food
item. This practice also causes insect and predator populations to be affected.

The depletion of reptilian fauna in the country is noteworthy. Reptiles are environment friendly as they eat
many agricultural pests, and help control their numbers. However, turtles, tortoises, snakes, lizards, and
crocodiles are exploited economically because of a tradition of making useful commodities from their body
parts, e.g., bones, skins, etc. Therefore, most of them are in high demand by traders in these items, and are
over-exploited.

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Trends in Natural Resource Management: Bangladesh NRM Workshop Paper Series # 2

The mammalian fauna of Bangladesh is the most highly affected from their habitat destruction and over
exploitation. Very exceptionally people in Bangladesh use some wildlife species. Most of them are used
either as food (e.g. turtles, lizards, snakes, parakeets and hill Mayna, etc.). However, the country is yet to
formulate appropriate policies and guidelines to manage the utilization of these biological resources in a
sustainable manner. Most of them are exploited in an unsustainable way, and hence, a number of wildlife
species have become threatened (State of Environment Report Bangladesh, 2001).

Bangladesh has one of the most biologically resourceful and unique mangrove forests known as the
Sundarbans. The Sundarbans is the largest mangrove forest in the world. Mangrove forests have a unique
combination of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The mangrove forests serve as a natural fence against
cyclonic storms and tidal surges, stabilize coastlines, enhance land accretion, and enrich soil near the aquatic
environment. The Sundarbans Reserve Forest occupies an area of 601,700 hectares of which 406,900 ha
forests, 187,400 ha water (rivers, rivulets, ponds, and canals), 30,100 ha form wildlife sanctuaries, and 4200
hectares are sand bars. It is home to several uniquely adapted flora and fauna, and provides feeding and
nursery grounds for many animals. Many animals spend their entire life in the mangroves, whilst others
spend some part of it.

The mangrove forest is very rich in biodiversity and supports 334 species of plants, as many as 77 insects of
different orders, 7 crabs, 1 lobster, 23 shrimp/ prawns, 400 fish, 8 amphibians, 35 reptiles, 270 birds, and 42
species of mammals. There are about 13 and 23 species of orchids and medicinal plants, respectively, found
in the Sundarbans. It is also the largest honey-producting habitat in the country with giant honey bees (Apis
dorsata). The best tree for producing honey in the Sundarbans is Khulshi (Aegiceras comiculatum)

The Sundarbans is the only remaining habitat of the famous Royal Bengal Tiger (Crocodylus porosus) ocfur
extensively in the rivers. The forest harbors large numbers of threatened wildlife species including Python,
King Cobra, Adjutant Stork, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Clawless Otter, Masked Fin-foot, Ring-lizard, and
River Terrapin. The Sundarbans is also home to thousands of Spotted deer (Axis axis).

Out of 26 species of mangroves, the two dominant ones are the Sundari (Heritiera fomes) and Gewa
(Excoecaria agallocha). Among the trees, Gewa and Goran (Ceriops roxburghiana) are being used in
newsprint mills for paper production, as well as for fuel-wood. The Sundari and Keora (Sonneratia apetala)
are used as timber woods. Leaves of gol pata (Nypa fruticans) are used for thatching. At present, there is no
commercial timber felling due to a moratorium imposed by the Government of Bangladesh, with the
exception of Gewa and Goran (BCAS,2001).

Both flora and fauna are threatened by the loss of habitats resulting from unwise human interventions and
resources uses. The unplanned and rapid urbanization and industrialization degrade the ecosystems and thus
affect the bio-diversity. The State of Environment report of Bangladesh identified the following key factors
that cause to affect flora and fauna: destruction of habitats, overexploitation of flora and fauna, indiscriminate
use of agro-chemical and pesticides, industrial pollution, encroachment of wetland and forests and change in
land use patterns.

Agricultural Productivity

The economy of Bangladesh is primarily dependent on agriculture. About 84 percent of the total
population live in rural areas and are directly or indirectly engaged in a wide range of agricultural
activities. The agriculture sector plays a very important role in the economy of the country accounting for
31.6 percent of total GDP in 1997-98 at constant (1984-85) prices. The agriculture sector comprises
crops, forests, fisheries and livestock. Of the agricultural GDP, the crop sub-sector contributes 71 per

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Trends in Natural Resource Management: Bangladesh NRM Workshop Paper Series # 2

cent, forest 10 per cent, fisheries 10 percent and livestock 9 per cent. The sector generates 63.2 percent of
total national employment, of which crop sectors share is nearly 55 %. Agricultural exports of primary
products constituted 10.4% of total exports of the country in 1997-98 (SDNP, 2002). The following table
gives some basic statistics of Bangladesh agriculture.

Table-1: Basic Information about Bangladesh Agriculture

Issues Value
Total Cultivated Land 17.8 million acre
Irrigated Area 8.6 million acre
Small Farmers 80% (9.42 million)
Medium Farmers 18% (2.08 million)
Large Farmer 2% (0.3 million)
No. of Farm Households 11.80 million
No. of Agri-labour Households 6.40 million
Cropping Intensity (1996-97) 174%
Agricultural Growth Rate (1998-99) 5.0%
Contribution to GDP (1998-99) 31.6%
Sources: Webpage (2002) of Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) of the
Government of Bangladesh under SEMP

It is to be mentioned here that all the post independence governments were committed to increase food
production through encouraging modern agri-input such seeds, irrigation, fertilizer and pesticide. Farmers
also were very pro-active to take the immediate benefits of the so-called "Green Revolution". All those
efforts increased food production in the country substantially and the country achieved some sot of autarchy
in rice production in the recent years. But on the other hand, the sustainability of agriculture is questioned,
because many farmers have already experienced the bad effect of the law of diminishing return. Though the
total productivity of the sector has increased but the real productivity of land has decreased. The health of
soil (nutrient and fertility) is greatly affected by the increasing uses of chemical fertilizer. The bio-diversity
in major agro-ecological zones is under serious threat due to unplanned and excessive use of chemical and
pesticides. Further, plant diversity is lost due to HVY mono-culture. If present trends continue, the quality
of land is likely to fall further and, with it, the productive capacity of the sector will decline greatly.

The future directions of conserving NRs and enhancing livelihood will depend largely on how rural
people interact with the resource base: both the way production is organized and how technology is
applied. Both are becoming important factors in determining the nature and limits of change. It is argued
that natural resources will remain a major factor in ensuring and sustaining rural livelihoods in the next
decade. However, the management of the resources will need to develop, both technologically and
institutionally. More efficient and effective use of natural resources can lead to substantial improvements
in employment and earnings of poor and small farmers. The consequent agro-processing and marketing
activities will result in further employment and earnings for rural and semi-urban people. This potential
will be more profitable and sustainable if the country can take advantages of the process of globalization
and specifically some of the rules of the present trading system and the envisaged changes (Rahman and
Mallick, 2001 and Asaduzzaman, 2001).

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Trends in Natural Resource Management: Bangladesh NRM Workshop Paper Series # 2

4. PARADIGM SHIFT IN NATURAL RESOURCES MANAGEMENT: PEOPLE’S


PARTICIPATION AND SUSTAINABLE USES OF NRS

Introduction

During the last decade, approaches to NRM has taken a shift toward encouraging participation in the
process, and it is widely recognized by actors and institutions engaged in the development process that a
transformation is sweeping across sectoral programs and projects. Similarly, in disaster management, the
shift is towards prediction and preparedness as opposed to relief and rehabilitation. People’s participation
in water resource management has been experimented in a rather exhaustive fashion within the existing
policy and institutional setting, with disappointing outcomes in most cases.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Poverty Eradication

National Livelihood
Food Security Security

Increase Productivity Increase Diversification

Provide, Facilitate
Top-down Participatory
Enable
Support

The broad objective to all these are to enable and ensure sustainable development processes in each
country and region, globalization of markets and culture, through the maintenance of good governance.
But what does Sustainable Development mean for countries like Bangladesh? Even taking the rule of the
thumb, the first and foremost priority shall and must be improving the well being of the majority who still
live in states of poverty.

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Trends in Natural Resource Management: Bangladesh NRM Workshop Paper Series # 2

Natural Resource Management : The wider context

Current arrangements need to be understood while enabling new institutional arrangements to evolve and
take shape. Ithe initial premise on which this paper draws is the inter-connected ness of livelihood and
natural resource management issues and concerns. The following diagram illustrate how both these link in
the overall national context.

DIAGRAM Factors influencing the management of natural resource and the livelihood context

FOOD

Sustainable
POPULATION Natural Resource AGRICULTURE
Management

INDUSTRY

Agriculture contributes directly or indirectly to poverty reduction and food insecurity. However,
increasing food production on its own will not reduce hunger and poverty. Within agriculture, primary
emphasis should be on generating jobs and incomes for the poorest. Also, new technologies must be
harnessed that will bring benefits to poor people. Sustainability of their growth is critical to the
vulnerability and livelihoods of the poor. To create and maintain an overall environment and process to
achieve all these, we need to revisit the roles and responsibilities of the state, private sector and civil
society in promoting and shaping the agenda.

Improving the well being of the poor will need more than commitments. First of all, piece-meal and
sectoral focus must go to allow mainstreaming focus to evolve.

The following diagram illustrates some of the key elements of the past and current paradigms in Natural
Resource Management in Bangladesh.

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Trends in Natural Resource Management: Bangladesh NRM Workshop Paper Series # 2

Telling how to manage Shared learning on how to


manage

Putting technology and


Productivity first Putting participation and
sustainability first

NR NR
Management Conservation
for Agricultural for Rural
Growth Livelihood

Optimal Use of
Natural Resource Sustainable Use of
Natural Resource

Allocation of resource
favors highest rent
Allocation of resource
favors livelihood security

Natural Resource Management: Key elements of past and current paradigms

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Trends in Natural Resource Management: Bangladesh NRM Workshop Paper Series # 2

New institutional Arrangement for Sustainable Resources Management

Based on the livelihood-natural resource management paradigm, Government and Donors can also
determine the impacts and outcomes of the national plans, policies and actions toward addressing the
millennium development goals in eradicating poverty. Also, as the following box reveals, capital asset
development, in the form of knowledge and access to natural resource, the key to addressing the capacity
needs of the poor, is central to the process.

Eco-specific specific participatory natural resource and human well being assessment involves enabling
local community actors and institutions build relevant capacity to participate in

?? Identifying and prioritizing problems and concerns with regard to sustainable natural resource
management;
?? build consensus within and across stakeholders with conflicting interests and concerns;
?? identify and select options and resources to address the concerns and interests;
?? develop action plans and secure commitments for responsibility sharing;
?? manage and monitor implementation of the plan, and
?? review of results, outcomes of implementation and continue participatory planning and
management cycle

Facilitating participatory natural resource management at the community level starts with the
understanding and sharing of mutual interest and concerns. These assessments comprise of village based
learning and sharing of knowledge, attitude and practices with regard to the management of natural
resources and products in their sphere of production, consumption, exchange and distribution. Villagers
participate over a series of discussions and group exercises that builds their interest, confidence and
motivation toward developing an action plan to address the needs to manage changes.

Participatory assessment and planning exercises involves sharing community knowledge, attitude and
practices to answer basic questions and inquiries in the nature described below:

ASSESSING RURAL SUSTAINABILITY PLANNING RURAL

HOW ARE WE? WHAT NEEDS TO BE


DONE?
HOW IS THE ECOSYSTEM? HOW WOULD WE KNOW IF
THINGS ARE GETTING BETTER
OR WORSE ?
WHAT IS THE STATE OF EACH
ECOSYSTEM COMPONENT & OF
ARE THE PROPOSED ACTIONS
HUMAN INFRASTRUCTURE?
LIKELY TO IMPROVE HUMAN AND
ECOSYSTEM WELL-BEING?
WHAT HAS CHANGED?
CAN THESE ACTIONS BE
HOW & WHY HAS IT CHANGED?
REALISTICALLY IMLEMENTED
LARGELY THROUGH COMMUNITY
WHO CAUSEDTHE ACTION? IF NOT, WHAT OUTSIDE
RESOURCES & ASSISTANCE ARE
WHO BENEFITED FROM THE
REQUIRED? ARE THEY
CHANGE? AVAILABLE?
WHO IS SUFFERING FROM THE
CHANGE ?

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Trends in Natural Resource Management: Bangladesh NRM Workshop Paper Series # 2

SUMMARY OF OBJECTIVES, KEY ISSUES, PROBLEMS AND INTERVENTIONS FOR ECOSPECIFIC PARTICIPATORY NATURAL
RESOURCE MANAGEMENT synthesized from past and current practices

?? Goal/Objecti Key Issues Key Interventions


(Problems/Constraints) (Strategies/Actions)

Increasing and indiscriminate Facilitate communities to establish local


ECOLOGICAL exploitation of wildlife (fish, institutions to develop and exercise code
snail, turtle, migratory birds, of conduct toward responsible
OBJECTIVES bats) and plants used for food, management of natural resources and
building material and medicine products

Destruction of wildlife habitats Facilitate communities to establish


due to conversion of wetlands institutions to protect existing important
and landscape, endangering habitats, and establish in-situ and ex-situ
the aquatic and terrestrial conservation sites, sanctuaries and other
important habitats, nestling and breeding
biodiversity
grounds

Existing agriculture practices Facilitate communities practice low


threaten population of external input based sustainable
important natural products agriculture & integrate biodiversity
concerns

Low level of income and Facilitate communities to enhance


ECONOMIC earning opportunities capacity and practice alternative
OBJECTIVES livelihood strategies

Limited income
opportunities during wet Facilitate community and vulnerable
season group initiatives toward assessment,
planning and management of livelihoods
Absence of economic
instruments, incentive
Facilitate communities develop and
structures and enabling
establish appropriate instruments,
community institutions structures and institutions

Absence of enabling Facilitate communities to enable a


customs, rules, regulations, process that results in establishing
SOCIAL and other institutions and norms, standards, other rules and
OBJECTIVES regulations, etc. and appropriate
their enforcement
organizations to enforce them

Limited & declining access, Facilitate consensus building and co-


control, ownership & use of management of natural resources and
natural resources by products to ensure equitable access,
majority of vulnerable control and sustainable use
population
Facilitate shared learning and knowledge
Lack of awareness, interest management and joint initiatives that
and cooperation among support the development of cooperation
local actors and institutions among actors and institutions

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Trends in Natural Resource Management: Bangladesh NRM Workshop Paper Series # 2

Establishing participatory natural resource management involves a process of learning by doing, and
every activity yields some valuable results and experience, not only for the participating stakeholders but
also for the facilitating actors and institutions.

It is only by reflecting on our experiences and sharing them in formats such as manuals, guidelines,
handbooks, toolkits, resource packs, etc. that we can keep improving our performance.

A summary of measures that need consideration in Eco-specific participatory natural resource management
are presented below:

Involve as many relevant government agencies and Clear strategic objectives must be established during
departments, NGOs and community organizations in the process
the process as early a possible
Activities must be oriented toward both establishment
Time must be taken to identify the root causes of the of community organizational structures and provision
major issues and problems of other developmental benefits to the communities
involved
Problem solving techniques should be used to identify
the root causes of problems It must be understood that it may take 3-5 years for a
co-management regime to be established and
operating
A thorough analysis of the situation must be
undertaken taking all factors (internal and external)
into account The co-management activities will complement local,
provincial and national development activities
Measures must be taken to identify new and
innovative approaches to address problems
Compensation of the short-term losses must be
The development of a management p lan must be considered that must be sustained for a longer-term
seen as a part of the development of a co- approach to sustainable utilization
management regime. It is only one of the valuable
tools in the management process
If necessary, formal agreements on the ownership
and management of the areas and resources
A flexible approach to decision-making must be contained therein should be established
developed
A flexible approach to co-management must be
Long-term resource management options must be considered to assist in ensuring that the views of all
formalised through a legal process stakeholders are incorporated in the process

The entire process is lengthy and requires long-term A legal agreement for the implementation of the co-
commitment from all sides management arrangement must be developed

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Trends in Natural Resource Management: Bangladesh NRM Workshop Paper Series # 2

Managing Natural Resource & Livelihood: An Analytical Framework

The livelihood and natural resource linkages can be broadly classified under two categories

?? Those that directly depend on natural resource as means for livelihood management;

?? Those who depend on markets for livelihood management (and these markets may depend on natural
resource)

The focus of this paper is on the former, although the importance and participation of the latter is
becoming increasingly a grave concern.

Among those who are directly dependent on natural resource, an overwhelming majority in Bangladesh as
well as other developing countries are losing access to and thereby failing to participate in the
management and conservation of natural resource. Land, the primary natural resource is one asset or
capital that the poor seldom has access to, or has control through ownership. Beside this physically bound
and institutionally regulated item, water resource and poors’ participation in its management is also
absent. Access to safe drinking water and its availability are basic rights issues and mechanisms to assure
this reduces their vulnerability in terms of health well-being.

The asset or Capital conditions of the poor, limited though they are, are what each poor have as a means
to livelihood management. Each household and individual uses, to their best abilities, these assets.

Among the five assets categorised in the livelihood framework,

Natural Capital refers to natures economic and cultural goods and services, and comprises food (both
farmed and harvested or caught from the wild), wood and fibre, water regulation and supply, waste
assimilation, decomposition and treatment, nutrient cycling and fixation, soil formation, biological control
of pests, climate regulation, wildlife habitats, storm protection and flood control, carbon sequestration,
pollination, recreation and leisure.

Social Capital is the cohesiveness of people in their societies, and comprises relations of trust that
facilitate cooperation, the package of common rules, norms and sanctions for behaviour, reciprocity and
exchanges; connectedness and social institutions

Human Capital is the status of individuals, and comprises the stock of health, nutrition, education, skills
and knowledge of individuals, accesses to services that provide these, such as schools, medical services,
adult training, the ways individuals and their knowledge interact with productive technologies, and the
leadership quality of individuals.

Physical Capital is the local infrastructure, and comprises housing and other buildings, roads and bridges,
energy supplies, communications, markets, and transport

Financial Capital is stocks of money, and comprises savings, access to affordable credit, pensions,
remittances, welfare payments, grants and subsidies.

These five assets come into play and are transformed by policies, institutions and processes to give
desirable outcomes such as jobs, welfare, economic growth, clean environment, sustainable use of natural
resources, reduced crime, better health and schools, and so on.

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Trends in Natural Resource Management: Bangladesh NRM Workshop Paper Series # 2

If achieved, the desirable outcomes can feed back to build up the five capital assets. Where they are
pollution, deforestation and degradation, increase crime, social breakdown, etc reduces the asset base.

Basic Principle

Sustainable systems (families) accumulate stocks of these five assets. They increase the capital base over
time. Unsustainable systems deplete or run down capital. They spend capital assets as if they were
income, so liquidating assets and leaving less for future generations.

In real life, we observe trade-offs between the capital assets, with gains in one or more capital resulting in
losses of another. Non-sustainable and vulnerable systems are characterised by imbalances between the
capitals, leaving inadequate levels of one or more to produce the desired outcomes.

As an example that illustrates the above, let us look at modern


agriculture
It has been successful at increasing food output. But these improvements came at considerable cost.
In the process of increasing output with greater use of non-renewable inputs, we have lost natural
habitat and wildlife, soils have been depleted, water polluted with pesticides and fertilizers, human
health damaged by pesticides. The social capital of rural areas has also declined. Horizontal
networks within communities have diminished, often replaced by vertical linkages to distant
organizations. Opportunities for informal and formal horizontal exchanges have fallen, and so norms

inefficiencies and corruption


of marketing channels Low prices for rice
Low income from rice
production
Lack of storage in the
farm High input costs
Low soil fertility

Low yield

Excessive use of Lack of organic


inorganic fertiliser fertiliser

Decline in cattle
numbers

Farm More intensive land


Mechnisation use for cropping

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Trends in Natural Resource Management: Bangladesh NRM Workshop Paper Series # 2

Three types of vulnerabilities are generalized:

Seasonality, or those concerns that could disrupt the livelihood strategy of a household arising due to the
changed seasonal conditions, for example, the shrinking of the inundation period, their extent etc. for
inundated wetlands.

Shocks, or those which result in sudden and often quick impact on the livelihood strategy of a household.
Natural disasters like severe floods, cyclones, or even death in the family or other accidents like ethnic
conflicts fall in this category.

Trends, or those that happen gradually over time and slowly render pressure on the livelihood options and
strategies of a household.The poor are subject to all three types of vulnerability, in different degrees, form
and with differentiated impacts and burdens

The well-being of poor are related to their unique vulnerability contexts, and determined by changes in
Resource stocks, Climate, Population Density, Conflict, Political Change, Technology, and Markets. Policy
& Institutional Context deals with Structures where Levels of Government, NGOs/CBOs, Private sector,
Traditional, Donors Processes, Laws, Policies, Incentives, Services, interact both formal and informally.

Livelihood outcomes desired

What do the poor desire? What will livelihoods generate? Livelihoods that are sustainable contributes to
more income, improved well-being, reduced vulnerability, improved food security and more sustainable
use of natural resource base.

Livelihood strategies chosen

The range of strategies people choose and engage are Natural resource based (on-farm and off-farm) as
well as Non-natural resource based, and often involving Migration (seasonal, circular, permanent,
international)

Implementation

While implementing these strategies, issues to address are Partnership arrangements, Monitoring &
Evaluation and Financial management, etc.

To manage natural resources, livelihoods of poor must be a central consideration. Therefore, all efforts
must swing toward linking and addressing the livelihoods – natural resource dependency through
assessments, planning and management. Needless to say, these processes must put first the participation
of the poor and their ownership in the process.

With this perspective and vision, supporting institutional arrangements and mechanisms can evolve to
help poor to overcome their vulnerabilities, enhance capital assets, and maintain sustainable livelihoods
through sustainable management of natural resources.

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Trends in Natural Resource Management: Bangladesh NRM Workshop Paper Series # 2

Natural Resource Management, Poverty &


Livelihoods
Analytical framework

SEASONALITY
Human Policies
Institutions
Processes
VULNERABILITY

POLICIES
Physical Livelihood
TRENDS SHOCKS Social
Assets

INSTITUTIONS
FORMAL AND INFORMAL
assessment Financial NATIONAL TO COMMUNITY
LEVEL
Natural
implementation
assessment PROCESSES
planning
implementation

planning

LIVELIHOODS

POOR

SUSTAINABLE NATURAL RESOURCE


DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT

Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies with IUCN-Bangladesh 24 September 22, 2002
Trends in Natural Resource Management: Bangladesh NRM Workshop Paper Series # 2

Natural Resource Management : The wider context

Capacity Democratic
building
Rights based

Group/ Participatory
Community
based Institutional Support
Livelihood
People’s Focused
“Ownership”
Conservation
Organization Policy Support
Sustainable Natural Focused

Good Governance
Resource
Management
Empowering
Poor

Livelihood Biodiversity

Trade Farming
Stock
NR based Off farm
Crafts
Renewal

Knowledge base

Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies with IUCN-Bangladesh 25September 22, 2002
Trends in Natural Resource Management: Bangladesh NRM Workshop Paper Series # 2

SUSTAINABLE RURAL LIVELIHOODS FRAMEWORK*


* Adapted from David Carney, (ed) 1998, “Sustainable Rural Livelihoods: what contribution can we make?” London: DFID

Capital / Assets

Policy &
?? Vulnerability Institutional
Context Structures
Context
Changes in ??Level of Govt.
??Resource stocks ??NGOs/CBOs
??Climate ??Private sector
??Population Density ??Traditional
??Conflict Livelihood outcomes desired
??Donors Processes
??Political Change ??Laws
??Technology ??More income ??Policies
??Improved well-being ??Incentives
??Markets
??Reduced vulnerability ??Services
??Disease Incidence
??Improved food security ??Formal/informal
??More sustainable use of natural
resource base

Livelihood strategies
chosen
??Natural resource based
??(on-farm and off-farm)
??Non-natural resource based
??Migration (seasonal, circular,
permanent, international)

Implementation
??Partnership arrangements
??Monitoring & Evaluation
??Financial management, etc.

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Trends in Natural Resource Management: Bangladesh NRM Workshop Paper Series # 2

5. CONCLUSIONS

Need of a Better Understanding of Poverty /Natural Resource Management and Linkages

Both poverty and natural resource management are complex, multi-faceted and multi-dimensional.
There are myths around both these issues which need to be demystified. Blaming the poor for natural
resource degradation may only be partly true. Most often the poor in Bangladesh do not have access
to tree trunk. They scavenge the twigs and leaves. These deprive the soil from needed organic matter
but do not reduce forest cover. Decrease of forest cover, loss of soil fertility, loss of productive
agricultural land to habitat, urban and infrastructural development, encroachment of public land and
water bodies are mostly manipulated and executed by the rich and the power elite. This is often in
collaboration with central and local level bureaucracy.

The poor in general have been protecting biodiversity and much of the natural resource base, though
they can also contribute to some degradative processes. Any degradation of the natural resource first
hit the poor as it reduces their access and livelihood options. So there is a need to develop a better
understanding for the linkages between poverty and natural resource management.

Need for Pro-poor Planning

Most often central planning processes have in their preambles and objectives poverty reduction. The
projects those emanate often gravitate to the benefits of the rich. There is a need for ensuring that the
plans, programmes and projects can increase the benefits, access to resources to the poor and enhance
their mobilization, particularly in natural resource management.

There is an urgent need for integration in Natural Resource Sectors such as land, water, agriculture,
forestry, fisheries, livestock, - each belong to different sectoral ministries and departments. Projects
emanating from each is supported by Bangladesh Government or external development partner funds.
But the interaction between the agencies are weak. Projects report to their line ministries in vertical
lines. Horizontal integration is minimal.

Let us take an example of a wetland. It is the interest of fisheries department to maximize fish
productivity. While land ministry would try to maximize la nd tax or highest lease value often ignoring
poor’s access. Ministry of Industry would encourage establishment of industries. Many of these
industries would find the wetland attractive for their waste disposal and source of water resulting in
serious pollution affecting health of the poor. Ministry of Water will consider to enhance irrigation or
flood control structures for hydrological and agricultural productivity needs. In an ideal world
Environment Department will try to protect biodiversity and water quality. While Roads and
Highways division may chose to build roads, and so on.

All these are useful development efforts and identified needs. But each creates conflicting demands on
the wetland and its potential to provide services. The communities, depending on their respective
social and economic needs may have different priorities.

The poor would definitely like to access the resources and intensify and diversity their livelihood
portfolios. Thus there is a strong need for integration: a land use and water use plan. There are many
sectoral plans in Bangladesh. The case for ecosystem based spatial integrated planning is very strong.

Integration Need in urban setting.

Let us take another two examples in urban setting. It is quite evident that the drains below the major
roads are often used as channel for taking service lines for different purposes and uses. Electricity
line, telephone wires, water, sewerage and gas lines are often channeled below the road sides. Very
often most urban roads are prepared and completed in reasonably good condition. But repeated
excavation makes the investment more costly and causes damage to the roads and their usability

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Trends in Natural Resource Management: Bangladesh NRM Workshop Paper Series # 2

affecting vehicles also. A better coordination between the agencies can easily reduce this cost and
discomfort to all types of users including the agencies themselves.

Another example is the water supply in urban centres. The tap water at the point of initial supply and
treatment is of high potable quality. But along the line there is severe and repeated contamination
making the tap water unworthy for drinking and can even become a health hazard. The urban
populace has responded to this challenge by boiling their water in every rich and middle class house,
mostly by burning natural gas. The investment in tap supply and huge waste of natural gas – both
national wealth, obviously need to be harmonized. These are just some examples to highlight the need
for inter-sectoral, inter-agency integration.

Need for a Systems Approach

Natural resources management is multi-dimensional, multi-sectoral and multi-institutional approach


involving multiple stakeholders. These components are interacting. Hence there is a need for a
systems approach. This approach can identify inter-linkages and flow of information and decision
making processes. Systems analysis also allows to understand the materials flow such as water,
nutrients, sediments and seeds so that natural resource management in its technical, environment and
social dimensions get integrated. Ecosystem approach forms a part of overall system analytical
methods.

Integration in Investment and Donor Participation

As the earlier examples show there are conflicting demands on the same resource base. Often multiple
investments are made. These investments are either from Bangladesh Government, donor country or
agencies (loan or grant ) or private sector investment. In any case any such investment forms a
component of the scare national investment capital.

There is a very strong case for better coordination of this investment. Demonstration of concerns for
the access of the poor, social justice, good governance processes and environmental considerations
would greatly help in making many of these investment more cost-effective and pro-poor.

Peoples Participation and Synergies

In the realm of natural resource management, participation of the local communities is a must. This
trend is being increasingly recognized. There are good example of projects are being implemented.
Experiential learning is that participation of the local community, particularly the poor enhances
potential for better resource use and also project sustainability.

Many projects are now attempting to integrate peoples participation. Peoples participation is a
difficult and complex exercise. Its effective practice and replicability is also difficult and time
consuming. More recent trends have shown that there is a lot of lip -service regarding peoples
participation. Even a trend is emerging where agencies or consulting companies are employing NGOs
and personnel with little or no experience in conducting peoples participation exercises. Token
consultation is propagated as peoples participation. Further it is used as a reporting tool (how many
participants, how many workshops etc) rather than a rigorous attempt to solicit peoples perceptions,
opinions and priorities to improve design and performance of project and enable peoples ownership of
projects.

Communities and their indigenous knowledge can be utilized to improve designs and make projects
more cost effective, service oriented and sustainable.

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Trends in Natural Resource Management: Bangladesh NRM Workshop Paper Series # 2

Enhancing Community Mobilization

The experience of Government agencies, NGOs and community based organizations in social
mobilization has reached a level of maturity and experiential gain. The most cost effective way to
enhance social capital is through social mobilization. Increasing awareness of the local communities
can be used to enhance their access of existing resources and demand for their rights by the poor.
Several participatory projects demonstrate that social mobilization approaches has the potential for
protecting the natural resource base by the poor themselves.

The example of MACH project, Community Based Fisheries Management (CBFM) and Chanda Beel
project of BCAS have shown potential where communit ies are undertaking NRM initiatives with a
view to better conservation by the community. In Chanda Beel local communities are now
conserving the brood fish in low lying small depressions as wetlands dry out. These natural broods
then become the supplier of fish eggs to be fertilized in the next fishing season, contributing to the
increase in fish productivity of the adjacent wetlands.

Increasing Access of the Poor

Depleted, encroached and degraded natural resource base work against the livelihood options and
opportunities for the poor. Better and integrated resource management coupled with social
mobilization offers opportunities of enhanced access. Better social mobilization increases the
potential of exerting the rights and entitlements of the poor.

Increasing Services, Support and Investment

In the environment-poverty nexus, the poor use natural resource base as their only source of
livelihoods. Increasing access to social support from Government agencies such as BRDB, LGED,
REB and NGOs with manifold support such as microcredit, livelihood support in poultry, livestock,
horticulture, aquaculture, craft manufacturing, fisheries, tree plantation can significantly help the poor.
These services have enabled some to get out of the poverty trap. More significantly these have
succeeded in holding the floor of poverty – no mean achievement in a country like Bangladesh
starting with a very low resource base and history of famines in the 1970s.

But the critical issue is to be able to provide enough livelihood opportunities and then to increase
income with skill development jobs and enterprises, wherever possible to link to the market and
formal economy. Provision of services such as supply of needs after disasters, better knowledge and
information on horticulture, aquaculture, crop diversification, improved energy services such as
improved stoves, supply of arsenic free safe water, sanitation etc. can be of great support in reducing
vulnerability. These also help to poor to develop improved coping strategies which in turn reduce
their vulnerability.

Enhanced Market Access

Many poor households of Bangladesh are responding to the challenges and producing goods for the
market. Agro-based products such as vegetables, eggs, poultry, cattle, crafts sweets etc are
marketable. They need market access. Infrastructure such as roads, rural electrifications and
connecting vehicles such as rickshaw vans and tiller driven transports are making poor household
product enter local markets.

A quantum jump could come if international market could be accessed by the poor with appropriate
marketable products. Here local entrepreneurship would become important. The support needed will
also have to be more sophisticated. But many poor men and women can rise to that challenge has be en
demonstrated by the thousands of women working the readymade garments industries.

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Trends in Natural Resource Management: Bangladesh NRM Workshop Paper Series # 2

Micro-Macro Linkages

Local level natural resource systems are significantly affected by macro policies, political processes,
and investment decisions. These macro level guidelines or decisions need to be sensitive to the needs
of the poor, particularly the very poorest (those without skill, credit, land and social support).

A recent study (Paul Thornton) has identified the key institutional challenges as follows:

- Dealing with complexity and exclusion.


- Increasing Transparency
- Addressing Human Capital Constraints.
- Tackling the Macro-governance agenda.
- Reforming Local Government
- Addressing the Disconnections

Towards Integrated and More Responsive Institutional Framework

In view of the above discussions and the analysis of the other two authors (Mandal and Ahmad) it is
imperative that the institutional challenges are enormous and yet central to addressing the concerns of
poverty reduction and sustainable NRM simultaneously. The institution has to address a number of
salient issues or criteria. These are –

Inclusion: All sections of the communities particularly the poor, women and children must be
included and their welfare and access must be addressed.

Integration: The institutional framework will need to integrate several dimensions

- Spatial Integration : These could and probably should be based on manageable geographical
units such as – ecosystems, watersheds, river basins or agro-ecological zones.

- Social Integration: Efforts must be made so that the very poorest and the poor whose lives
and livelihoods are inextricably connected to the natural resources are integrated in a new
institutional paradigm.

- Investment Integration: Investme nt made by government, donor or private sector should be


harmonized so that welfare and access of the poor along with sustainability of the natural
resource system is harmonized.

- Policy Integration: The different sectoral policies would need to be in tegrated and harmonized
between sectors and within sectors so that the natural resource management institutions and
systems can respond rapidly and function smoothly.

- Implementation Integration: At the level of implementation of projects from different


governmental and non-governmental agencies should be responsive and incorporate the needs
of the poverty – environment nexus as essential.

Enhanced Peoples Participation at Local Level

Peoples participation must be incorporated are all levels. Participation of local communities, local
level government agencies, NGOs, political opinion leaders, stakeholder groups would bring in the
local realities. They should not only be consulted but enabled to genuinely participate in decision
making at all levels from conceptualization through design to implementation Criteria of poverty
alleviation and good practices on natural resource management should be integrated at all stages.

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Trends in Natural Resource Management: Bangladesh NRM Workshop Paper Series # 2

External Connectedness

Given the demographic and consumption pressures, the natural resource system will not be able to
provide support for all. Enough efforts must be made to increase skills so that skilled people can
access the job market, both nationally and internationally. This trend is already evident but specific
and focused programme with value addition and responsive to the job market will be essential.

Better Local Government

Local Government institutional infrastructure is undergoing rapid and erratic changes. Local
Government structures with adequate financial authority and responsibility is likely to address NRM
issues more coherently and better.

Better Governance Practices and Reducing Corruption

The laws and policies must be implemented fairly and decisions must be made in a transparent way.
The occupation of public or common property domains by powerful vested interests, often with
political overtones jeopardize good governance practices.

Corruption is integral part of many decision making processes. The tragedy of corruption is two folds.
The first is the extraction of a portion of the allocation as rent seeking or sheer malevolent transfer.
This does make the project or the investment neither cost effective nor efficient. But ever greater
tragedy is that corruption often ends up in an inefficient and inadequate choice of performers. This
can totally destroy a project and distort potential outcome. The evil nexus between performers and
evaluators not only results in sub-optimal end-results but the social development process based on
cumulative knowledge gathering get dis torted and truncated. Hence good governance practices are of
paramount importance.

Ensuring Access to Existing Resource and Investment

The poor and the community at large is often disconnected from the benefits of investment. This is
either due to lack of access or imposed barrier or both. Connecting agents such as NGOs, local level
government, or social change agents such as teachers, local leader, service extension officers or even
external agents may help in enhancing the access of the poor. Education, training, skills development
and exposure to new thinking, access to infrastructure are best investment on the poor. This would
enable them from livelihood management to job market.

Catalyst and connectors

The concept of a set of catalysts and connectors can be considered as an approach to over---- the
disconnect between existing services and access. The catalysts and connectors are individuals or
institutions, who are skilled in identifying the missing link between investment (social or financial)
and the purported beneficiaries of such investment. This is analogous to the electric power generation
and the electric bulb to be lighted. The connecting system is vital. But in social institutions and
particularly for the poor their access and connection to many formal investments get disrupted. Efforts
may be made to ensure the enhancement of the efficiency of existing and future investment through
identifying and operationalizing these catalysts and connectors.

Enhancing and Rewarding Sustainable Use and Conservation Practices

In many areas poor are already aware of many conservation practices. Offering and availing rewards
as cash, kind or social recognition may work as incentives better than punitive threats on non-
performance of conservation practices or laws.

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Trends in Natural Resource Management: Bangladesh NRM Workshop Paper Series # 2

Sustainable use of resources and traditional – indigenous practices may also be coded into
conservation practices and rewarded.

Respecting and Integrating Indigenous Knowledge

Not all knowledge and practices of the poor are helpful in the poverty-environment nexus. But the
poor and communities have many indigenous practices, technologies and knowledge that can be
utilized in all aspects of project cycle and social skill development.

Towards an Institutional Framework on NRM

There is a general reluctance for creating any new institutions. The challenges of poverty reduction
are old in Bangladesh. Local level government and its institutionalization is at a flex. This creates a
new opportunity where addressing sustainable livelihood practices, addressing poverty alleviation,
sustainable natural resource management and rapid economic growth particularly in the formal
economic sector can coexist. Each of these components can be strengthened through interaction with
the other and resultant synergies. Several of the elements of such a paradigm have been listed and
discussed above.

Bangladesh has many successful experiments in social mobilization, community base natural resource
management, micro-credit facilitation, eco-specific participatory management. Based on these and
other lessons from success and failures we could and should move towards an Integrated Natural
Resource Management Framework (INRNF) where livelihood of the poor could be ensured and
enable the poor to get on to the track of economic growth and sustainable development.

Looking Ahead

The conservation of the natural resource is not a luxury. It is a necessity for the productive systems to
function. The reduction of poverty is not a benevolence that the rich of Bangladesh has to offer to the
poor. Rather reduction of poverty is a necessary condition for the rich component of Bangladesh
society to be able to function smoothly and obtain the minimum security of life, property and
institutions. Reduction of poverty means more purchasing power to the poor, which implies a larger
market and greater choices and opportunities for all.

Bangladesh Vision 2020 (BCAS and World Bank, 1998) has demonstrated that by the year 2020 if
Bangladesh wants to be a medium developed country, focus on poverty alleviation with a rigorous
institutional frame is a must. Today’s protection of natural resource will only increase the quality of
life of the next generation of Bangladeshis. A new and integrated institutional framework based on an
increasing scientific understanding and system approach, increasing commitment of some national
and international actors, community involvement and stakeholders participation offers new
opportunities to serve the growing needs of livelihoods of the poor as well as better functioning of
natural resources, market and economic growth.

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