Blue Gold aims to reduce poverty and improve food security through equitable water management and strengthened value chains – resulting in improved livelihoods for communities.
Equitable water management involves representatives of all community stakeholders (eg farmers, fishermen, landowners, landless, etc.) working through water management organisations (WMOs) in partnership with government, NGOs and the private sector to manage water to meet agricultural requirements. Interventions include the rehabilitation of flood embankments to reduce the risk of loss of lives and crops; maintenance of main khals to remove water from the fields, or to store water for supplementary irrigation; operation of sluices to drain excess water or to introduce fresh water in times of shortage. Based on the work of IRRI in Polder 30, community-led agricultural water management (CAWM) demonstration schemes are set up to enable collective action to ensure timely drainage, synchronisation of cropping patterns and improved agricultural production strategies. CAWM helps establish resilient, productive and diverse cropping systems; and the capacity to manage that into the future.
Strengthened value chains enable the farm households to enhance their productivity, be it for home consumption or sales; to make use of additional availability of land and opportunities for different cropping systems; and to pursue better services from government and private agencies; and better deals from input suppliers and bulk buyers (see Alauddin Khan’s case study below). These linkages are created through Market-Oriented Field Schools (MFS), which introduce new technology and practices, innovations, collective action, and a focus on horizontal learning. This results in an increase in, and diversification of, agricultural production with better profit margins.
The Blue Gold Program addresses poverty and vulnerability in the south west by developing local capacity to manage water resources, agricultural production and market access. Lasting cooperation between rural communities, their organisations, local governments and technical agencies such as DAE and BWDB forms the core of this capacity.