Participation of women is less in aquaculture due to lack of knowledge, less mobility and poor linkages with support providers. Small homestead ponds with presence of aquatic vegetation, shades and decomposed matters are often not considered suitable for aquaculture production. These ponds are an opportunity to encourage participation of women and empowered them with access to resources for fish production, control over income and leadership.
The Ecopond-I project tested how small homestead ponds could be successfully used by women for fish production and empowering women. Ecopond-II is designed to scaling-out this innovative approach effectively to large numbers of women within Blue Gold polders.
Description of the Innovation
In Ecopond-I, a participatory action research (PAR) with 60 women showed how native fish (e.g. local catfish, climbing perch) could be grown with tilapia and carps by creating artificial fish habitat inside the pond. Aquatic weeds, coconut leaves, bamboo tubes and bamboo branches were used as fish habitats. The PAR included formal training of women, use of training manuals with theoretical and practical sessions on technologies and empowerment of women.
In Ecopond II project, communities and women with small homestead ponds were selected with support from the members of water management groups (WMGs) and local staff of BG program. The major focus of the scale-out process is to cover large numbers of women with small ponds with very few project staff and limited funding and with involvement of women, the community, lead farmers and local support providers. Total 3377 women with around 4500 small ponds were selected.
Suitable fish habitats with shade and shelter can be created by using aquatic weeds, coconut leaves, bamboo tubes and bamboo branches. Ecopond I project involved women producing fish in their small homestead ponds, with high interest and great success. Most fish were found to breed inside the pond.
The key to success lies in regular harvest of the fish, to guarantee enough breeding space. Fish production increased from 500 to 1785 kg/ha/year, and is still increasing. Mixed sex tilapia showed the highest contribution, followed by carps and small fish. Habitats prepared with bamboo branches, dry coconut leaves, bamboo tubes and aquatic vegetation showed best results, especially in perennial ponds. The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) showed significantly empowerment for women involved in the intervention.
Following Ecopond I, a lot of adoption by other women in the communities took place. In the following year, through improved management, the productivity of fish increased to 4-5 metric ton/ha.
Sustainability and up-scaling
The Ecopond approach has been undertaken also by other institutions such as the CREL project of Winrock International who scaled-out the approach by working directly with more than 500 households near the Sunderbans.
Ecopond II is showing that the participatory methods and tools used are effective to engage women actively in the program even with small number of staff. It clearly shows that development of community groups, setting up of the Learning Centers, involvement of women leaders and linkages with the WMGs and other stakeholders along with training are useful.
Dissemination of the Ecopond Approach
Bangladesh has millions of small homestead ponds with huge potential to adopt the Ecopond approach. Further development and dissemination of outcomes through DoF, BWDB and others are important. To support this, WorldFish has planned to complete by 2018 the following documents: A Training Manual in Bangla and English, a Video Documentary, a Database on baseline and monitoring outcomes of production, income and household fish consumption, popular articles and papers for journal publication.
WorldFish Bangladesh Office, House 22B, Road 7, Block-F, Banani, Dhaka 1213|
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Download a PDF version: WorldFish – Ecoponds v1