Articles | Volume 376
Proc. IAHS, 376, 45–50, 2018
Proc. IAHS, 376, 45–50, 2018

  01 Feb 2018

01 Feb 2018

An integrated approach to improving rural livelihoods: examples from India and Bangladesh

Barry Croke1,2, Wendy Merritt1, Peter Cornish3, Geoffrey J. Syme4, and Christian H. Roth5 Barry Croke et al.
  • 1Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Canberra, 0200, Australia
  • 2Mathematical Sciences Institute, Australian National University, Canberra, 0200, Australia
  • 3School of Science and Health, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, 2751, Australia
  • 4School of Business and Law, Edith Cowan University, Perth, 6027, Australia
  • 5CSIRO Land and Water, Brisbane, 4001, Australia

Abstract. This paper presents an overview of work in West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and SW Bangladesh through a series of projects from 2005 to the present, considering the impact of farming systems, water shed development and/or agricultural intensification on livelihoods in selected rural areas of India and Bangladesh. The projects spanned a range of scales spanning from the village scale (∼  1 km2) to the meso-scale (∼  100 km2), and considered social as well as biophysical aspects. They focused mainly on the food and water part of the food-water-energy nexus. These projects were in collaboration with a range of organisations in India and Bangladesh, including NGOs, universities, and government research organisations and departments. The projects were part funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, and built on other projects that have been undertaken within the region. An element of each of these projects was to understand how the hydrological cycle could be managed sustainably to improve agricultural systems and livelihoods of marginal groups. As such, they evaluated appropriate technology that is generally not dependent on high-energy inputs (mechanisation). This includes assessing the availability of water, and identifying potential water resources that have not been developed; understanding current agricultural systems and investigating ways of improving water use efficiency; and understanding social dynamics of the affected communities including the potential opportunities and negative impacts of watershed development and agricultural development.

Short summary
Water and food security are vital for improving livelihoods in disadvantaged rural areas. Understanding the water cycle is central to the design of watershed development works intended to improve water security. Better farming practices can help improve food security. It is also vital for social constraints and equity to be considered. Finally, a participatory learning approach is useful for ensuring that watershed development work is effective in producing long-term improvement in livelihoods.