Their hardship is exacerbated by cyclones, storm surges, contamination of land and drinking water by salt water, droughts, river siltation and land erosion. Managing the country’s abundant water resources and fragile land are crucial to long-term development.
The Blue Gold programme will stabilise an area of 115,000ha and ensure the safety of local people by strengthening dykes and clearing silt from drainage channels.
We formed water management organisations (WMOs), a third of whose members are women, to give local people control over the work affecting their lives.
These are complemented by Farmer Field Schools which equip people with training in horticulture and aquaculture, leading to better harvests.
The WMOs have empowered local people, establishing a democratic approach to water management interventions.
The new skills taught to villagers have improved the quality and diversity of their produce, and the project has fostered strong linkages between them and the private sector, creating new streams of income, much of which is reinvested in the development of new farmland.
Blue Gold’s greatest legacy will be the self-sufficiency of the area’s communities once the programme closes.