The purpose of the project was to optimise use of sluice gates to give improved integration of water control for natural fish stock enhancement with rice farming to benefit poor fishing and farming communities. Research activities included:
1. Determination of pattern of use and hydraulic characteristics of sluice gates in water management of compartments in consultation with local communities;
2. Investigation of existing use of fish and rate of fishing in communities inside and outside compartments around sluice gates, in relation to farming and other activities.
3. Participatory analysis of community views and expectations with regard to fish and farming leading to an understanding of their decision-making processes with regard to water control. Interactive consultations held with participating communities as the information was synthesised and the protocol developed.
4. Investigation of seasonal fish movements in the vicinity of sluice gates following a review of the interaction of fish swimming characteristics with the likely operation of sluice gates.
5. Synthesis of the water control needs of rice and fish given new data, with the communities, to arrive at an acceptable strategy and protocol for sluice gate management to increase livelihood options for natural enhancement of fisheries;
6. Creation of simple dissemination package.
The project outputs were:
1. An optimal procedure and protocol for the operation of sluice gates and regulators to promote best integration of fish immigration and natural stock enhancement with rice farming in empoldered floodplains;
2. The understanding of the local social and institutional framework of fisheries, rice farming and water control to promote integration and co-management at the micro-level.
3. A synthesis of the information into a water management plan for uptake by the local participating communities and institutions.
4. A simple dissemination package for NGOs or government extension services to promote uptake of the protocol or synthesis on a wider basis.
The project contributed towards DFID's development goals as follows:
1. The participatory approach to research and involvement of local people in terms of obtaining information, providing feedback, modifying recommendations etc. made a major contribution to achieving the project goal. Use of participatory approaches raised awareness and empowered local people. It also ensured that dissemination occurred throughout the project.
2. Dissemination of research results at an Upazila level workshop resulted in an agreement to alter sluice gate operation. This will benefit poor fishers.
3. A good understanding of the local social and institutional context means that research is relevant and locally appropriate.
4. Dissemination of research results to policy and decision-makers at national, regional and local levels will affect water management policy and decision-making. Benefits will filter down to poor people. Some of this dissemination has already occurred, for example research results were published in a local Pabna newsletter (in local languages), and a three page project results brief was disseminated to over 100 key government and non-government national decision and policy makers in the area of water management, fisheries and agriculture.