Local irrigation system

In the early September rainy season, there is water in all directions in the southern coastal areas of Bangladesh. But just as sometimes you can have too little, too much is also a problem. And sometimes, it just isn’t the right kind.

All of the above take a huge toll on farmers in the region who depend on a steady flow of low-saline water to irrigate their rice fields, feed their families, and earn an income.

A recent trip to the district of Narail, some 200 kilometers southwest of Dhaka on the side of the tidal Chitra River, showed that if you want to ensure water and food security, it’s also important that the right people are deciding how much water is needed, and when.

These days, most farmers in the region pay around Tk20 (about $0.25) a month—or an in-kind rice donation—to belong to one of 102 Water Management Groups, all headed by local men and women. — blogs.adb.org/blog