Water Productivity Journal (WPJ) Quarterly Publication

Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 MSc. Department of Geography and Environment, Jagannath University, Dhaka 1100, Bangladesh.

2 Assistant Professor, Department of Geography and Environment, Jagannath University, Dhaka 1100, Bangladesh

3 MSc.Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), Dhaka, Bangladesh

4 MSc.Department of Geography and Environment, Jagannath University, Dhaka 1100, Bangladesh


Introduction: Drought poses significant environmental and economic threats in northwestern parts of Bangladesh. The area is characterized by long-dry weather pattern. Climate-change driven uncertainties such as low rainfall, precipitation and water scarcity puts more strain on agriculture and agro-based economy of the region. Farmers and agricultural laborers faces challenge in finding alternative income sources during prolonged drought. To survive, they interact with changing socio-hydrological systems and utilize different absorptive, adaptive and transformative capacities. The country has experienced frequent hydro-climatic disasters including flood, cyclone and drought due to the increased climate change impacts. Drought is a recurring and creeping phenomenon in the Northwest part of Bangladesh. Particularly, the districts such as Chapainawabganj, Rajshahi, Naogaon, Bogra, and Joypurhat face agricultural drought. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted warmer climate and a drastic change in rainfall patterns in the districts. Recent research has also identified the annual maximum temperature increase by 0.16°C in two decades, and the significant decrease of rainfall during 1994-2013 along with the forecast of increase of average minimum temperature by 1.3°C
Materials and Methods: Taking Sapahar Upazila of Naogaon District as a case, it is aimed to identify and explore the coupled socio-hydrological systems and how farmers of the Upazila deal with the stresses caused by drought. It is also explored the socio-hydrological and social sub-systems that supports livelihood of the villagers to cope with the challenges posed by water scarcity. The research identified increased susceptibility of households to water scarcity, crop failure, food insecurity, and unemployment resulting from recurring drought. Farmers have changed their land use pattern and traditional agricultural practices, cultivating drought-tolerant species, introducing rainwater harvesting systems, and re-excavating pond and canal to store water to cope with draught. They also manage small water systems based on their shared learning, and coordinate with different stakeholders to foster the adaptive system. They also change their conventional occupation and migrate to nearby cities. Long-term transformation in land use and land cover change is identified employing Geographical Information System (GIS) analytical tools.
Results: The change includes gradual decline in the area and coverage of paddy fields and an increase of mango cultivation and fish farming. The study recommends the increased institutional cooperation among relevant stakeholders. It also suggests taking measures like innovating drought tolerant and less water consuming crops and supporting farmers to strengthen the resilience against drought.
Conclusions: Change that occurs at individual level is not transmitted to encourage learning and broaden participation. Besides, strategies need to best utilize the available local knowledge and augment the practices through local government institutions such as Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief. Measures form Ministry of Agriculture is also required to (a) subsidizing farmers to increase their access to water during drought; (b) and promoting drought tolerant species and short-lived crop; (c) capacity building activities for farmers to cope with water related stresses and promote the rainwater harvesting systems. Strong interrelationship between government and non-government organizations and scientists is also prerequisite to facilitate an effective adaptation policy. Integrated approach will help farmers not to leave their traditional agricultural practice. In this backdrop, the study will provide information about the dynamics of the socio-hydrological crisis and opportunities to the policymakers to assist the local people to enhance their resilience.


Main Subjects

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