Bangladesh wins the Equator Prize for outstanding community initiatives

July 2, 2007 | By admin | Reply More

Bangladesh wins the Equator Prize for outstanding community initiativesThe Shidulai Swarnivar Sangstha of Bangladesh wins the Equator Prize in recognition of outstanding community efforts for poverty reduction and biodiversity conservation. The Shidulai Swarnivar Sangstha uses riverboat-based educational resource centers throughout Bangladesh’s Ganges river delta to deliver information on sustainable agricultural practices and current market prices. Summary:

1. Initiative Description and Innovations
The organization uses the hundreds of rivers, streams and wetlands Bangladesh as communication channels by making available indigenous boats that are “mobile internet-education units” with laptops, multimedia equipment, educational presentations, and a database. The group uses celluar technology and solar energy to provide open learning to 87,000 families every year. The boats dock at villages to teach farmers and children sustainable, effective and ecologically- friendly farming techniques (paddle pumping, solar lanterns) through web-tutorials, animation, and documentaries. Farmers and children can also receive information on commodity and farm input prices, send and receive e-mails, access the internet and use mobile phones. This is a one of a kind project in the world.

2. Poverty Reduction
Allowing farmers to access up to date price lists has enabled farmers to sell their products to the market at higher prices. This has improved the terms of negotiation between middle men and farmers. Agricultural productivity has increased 45%, 2,000 landless poor now receive government owned land and water bodies (khas), and 24,000 micro-enterprises have developed from the revolving funds of the community network. Trainind educates farmers on useful and affordable technologies (e.g. pedal pump). The annual income of farmers has increased 55%. The use of solar lanterns, rechargeable flash lights, and LED lights on boats help fishermen extend catching hours.

3. Biodiversity Impacts
Education and awareness campaigns address envinronmentally responsible farming and promote techniques that are more effective and less damaging to the environment.

4. Combined Impact
Farmers are trained on the proper use of fertilizer and pesticides and on agricultural productivity. Poachers are illegally redirecting water flows to catch more fish which is resulting in stream bank erosion. The group provides the information and resources necessary to defend their water sources. Farmers also receive up to date information on endemic endangered species and their needs vis-a-vis the surrounding biodiversity. The group is also making bridges between farmers and research institutes for better and more lucrative farming techniques.

5. Partnerships
Partners to the group include: Local Government Authority (technical support), Daridra Bimochon Sangstha (volunteers, wtaer quality monitoring), water user associations, micro-enterprise groups, farmers steering committees, and grassroots extension delivery teams.

6. Sustainability
Operational costs are substantially lower than those of a free-standing institution. The boats provide maximium flexibility. Each boat becomes self-supporting after two years. An education fund meets other expenses. A waste exchange program also covers operational costs. This project has high replicability in other wetlands and areas traditionally only accessible by boat.

7. Gender and Social Inclusion
The group targets young people, and in particular girls. Women are increasingly forced to augment family income. Women are often relegated to jobs with low economic returns. Women now take full advantage of the boat school, training and Internet facilities.

8. Biodiversity- based Business Award

9. Other Information
The group holds monthly meetings/dialogues to disseminate findings and to undertake grassroots discussion of agriculture and the environment. NGOs, CBOs, and government officials participate. The information from these meetings is passed on to the press.


Category: Press Release

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.