Messages from the Ganges Basin Development Challenge: Unlocking the Production Potential of the Polders of the Coastal Zone of Bangladesh through Water Management Investment and Reform

The coastal polders of Bangladesh are characterized by extremes in terms of both challenges and opportunities. The polders are home to about 8 million people, where 85% of rural householders live under the national poverty line. The polders are subjected to flooding during the rainy season; drought and salinity during the dry season, and cyclones. In addition, the impacts of climate change, especially sea level rise, will be most severe in this region. Much of the poverty of the region has been attributed to soil and water salinity and flooding, which constrain agricultural and aquacultural productivity and cropping system intensification. The CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF) Ganges Basin Development Challenge (GBDC) research shows that this need not be the case! This document draws on the GBDC research findings and discussions over the last decade and presents seven key evidence- based messages. The aims of the messages are to correct misperceptions about water resources and the production potential of the coastal zone, and to advocate for changes in resource-use technologies, resource management policies, institutional coordination and governance mechanisms. The seven messages are summarized below; their details with explanatory notes and supporting evidence are included in the main text.