Water Resources

Being a lower riparian country, Bangladesh largely depends on freshwater availability from the country's transboundary rivers. Recent research on global freshwater storage depicts the area in-and-around Bangladesh to be water deficit areas (Rodell et al., 2018). It is characterized as an area with water depletion and percolation decrease. Due to climate change, the average annual flow of GBM Basins will increase, resulting in the more frequent river flood. Additionally, flash flood might occur early and become more frequent, drought during dry season might become more severe and water scarcity will be aggravated. Besides, due to sea level rise and consequent increase in salinity, more areas in the coastal region will face freshwater shortage and damage to agriculture, while extreme heat might cause reduction in waterbodies.

The National Adaptation Plan (NAP) as well as BDP2100 provides an overall view of the links between climate, agriculture and livelihoods. The major challenges related to agriculture and food security in Bangladesh are:

  • Curse of poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition
  • Degradation of natural recourses
  • Low agricultural productivity and limited modernization
  • Weak research extension linkage and technology delivery
  • High post-harvest losses
  • Problems of market linkages and value chains,
  • Scarcity of availability of agriculture labour
  • Farm mechanization
  • Food quality and safety problem
  • Inadequate institutional credit
  • Inadequate availability of quality seeds to the farmers
  • Increased environmental shocks and livelihood risk

Opportunities for Water Resource Sectors

The agriculture sector has contributed considerably to the development of Bangladesh. By, 2000 the national poverty rate had fallen to 49% and rural poverty had come down to 52%, down from the 80% level in the early 1970s. Subsequent progress in agriculture and strengthening of economic transformation during 2000-2015 period saw national and rural poverty decline further to 24% and 30% respectively by 2015- source- BDP2100.

Table: Growth Performance of Agriculture and Sub-sectors, FY1972-15 (%/Year)

Type FY1972-80 FY1981-90 FY1991-00 FY2001-10 FY2011-15
Agriculture and Forestry 2.43 2.58 2.08 3.69 2.73
Crops and horticulture 2.51 2.69 1.83 3.34 2.25
Livestock 2.23 2.10 2.51 4.52 2.79
Fiesheries -2.87 2.35> 8.21 2.72 6.19
Non-crop agriculture (livestock, fisheries and forestry) have gained substantial ground and now plays a significant role in terms of employment generation and contribution to GDP. Although livestock accounts for 10% of agricultural GDP (less than 2% of total GDP), it is very labor intensive. Livestock sub-sector contributes output for both production and consumption. However there exists a gap between the demand for livestock products and their current levels of production. This gap is expected to widen further due to increase in per capita income and change in food consumption pattern. This is a missed opportunity that needs major policy attention
Livestock contributed over 14.2% to agriculture GDP in FY2016 (DLS 2016). Numbers of buffalo, sheep, poultry have increased at a rate of 25-30% over the last decade (BDP2100)). Cattle and goats are the most important livestock holdings. Cattle are a typical part of a traditional cropping system as a source of power, transport, and manure, as are buffalo, which are fewer in numbers.

Table: National Livestock Production (in 000s)

Species 2006-07 2012-13 2013-14 2015-16 % of Change
Buffalo 1,210 1,450 1,457 1,471 22
Cattle 22,870 23,341 23,488 23,785 4
Goats 20,750 25,277 25,439 25,766 24
Poultry 245,970 296,264 304,172 320,633 31
Sheep 2,680 3,143 3,206 3,355 24
A major breakthrough that has happened in post-independence Bangladesh is the growing importance of fisheries. Its share in agricultural production climbed up from less than 9% in the 1970s to 23% in FY2014. As a result, fisheries sector now contributes to 4.4% of total GDP and employs about 13% of rural labor force. There has been a major transformation in the fisheries sector. The small-scale open water capture fisheries which was dominant in the 1970s has given way to close water culture fisheries, which is now playing an important role in the development of the subsector.
Two other notable structural changes are the growing share of marine fishing, from 11% in FY73 to 17% in FY14, and the increasing share of shrimps, from 3% to 6% over the same periods. Since much of the shrimp catch is exported with considerably higher prices than domestic consumption fisheries, commercial value of the export-oriented shrimp production is changing the role of fisheries sector in value-added and incomes. The main driving forces for growth of aquaculture are high intensive technological management and improved fish breeds based on private investment. With growing domestic demand and a large export market, there is considerable further scope for enlarging the contribution of fisheries in the development of Bangladesh.
Challange and Issues

Challanges in Water Sectors

All the successes, described above, could be short lived over a longer period of time. After achieving lower middle income country status, the challenge is not achieving food security but to sustain food security over medium and long term. Bangladesh aspires to become an upper middle income country and then on to become a developed country by 2041. This time frame unfortunately also coincides with onset of sea level rise potentially inundating parts of Bangladesh. Can Bangladesh sustain food security at that time? If not, will that threaten its aspiration to become developed country? The main challenges to achieving and sustaining food security over the longer term include:

  • Polder Management
  • Tidal River Management
  • Wetland and Haor Management
  • Groundwater Management

Expanding urbanization threatens food security

Bangladesh experienced faster urbanization than South Asia as a whole between 2000 and 2010. Over that period, the share of its population living in officially classified urban settlements increased by 1.69% per year. World Urbanization Prospects estimated that urban population will be 56% of total population of Bangladesh by 2050. Bangladesh's expanding urban populations presents it with a considerable affordable housing challenge. In the best case scenario in which urban population density remains constant, meeting this challenge will require expanding the amount of developable urban land by just over 7,000 km2 or almost 45% - between 2010 and 2050 (World Bank, 2015). This will provide extreme stress on lands available for productive economic uses and threaten achieving food security.

Climate change and natural hazards will likely continue to worsen

Bangladesh ranks first in the 2014 Climate Change Vulnerability Index and it will likely suffer more from climate change by 2025. than any other country (Maplecroft, 2014). Rainfall is expected to increase by 10% to 15% during the monsoon seasons by 2030 and 27% by 2075; rising sea level is expected to inundate 120,000 km2 by 2050; 14% more of the country may become extremely prone to floods by 2030; cyclones in the Bay of Bengal will occur more frequently due to increasing temperature, and the peak intensity of cyclones may increase by 5% to 10% (FPMU, 2013). Coastal salinity problems will likely worsen as changing rain patterns reduce the amount of dry season water supply from upstream river sources. Overall, crop production might be reduced by 30% by the end of the century, rice production could fall by 8%, and wheat production by 32% by 2050 (FPMU, 2013). Winter crop production would be seriously hampered due to a warmer and drier environment during non-monsoon seasons, while moisture stress might force farmers to reduce the area under irrigated rice cultivation.


Loss of agricultural land

Bangladesh is losing agriculture land at a rate of 0.5% per year due to various factors including urban encroachment of agriculture land, road infrastructure, water logging, depletion of groundwater and soil fertility, erosion, and salinity (Hasan, 2013). In the last three decades about 170,000 ha of agriculture land has been degraded by increased salinity (FAO, 2012). Soil fertility degradation results from imbalanced fertilizer use ( overuse of subsidized nitrogen fertilizers), absence of micronutrient application, less use of manure for crops and more for fuel, and cropping intensification combined with the increase of mono culture rice without rotation. River bank erosion accounts for about 40% of land loss on about 1,200 km of riverbanks (primarily the Ganges, Jamuna, and Padma Rivers) that are seriously affected as topsoil is washed away and replaced by sand (Hasan, 2013). This problem is expected to intensify with increased climate change-induced sea level rise. This significant land loss when combined with population growth explains why the size of cultivated area per farm has decreased from 0.81 to 0.51 ha between 1984 and 2008 (FPMU, 2013)..

Uncertainty in water availability from upstream

As Bangladesh is located in the low-lying delta of the Ganges- the Brahmaputra- the Meghna basin, upstream infrastructural developments both in India and possibly in China are expected to have a notable impact on the dry season flow in the country. Of particular interest for Bangladesh are the Indian proposals to construct 16 barrages on the Ganges River and the plans to divert water from the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers towards the south of India. In addition, India is planning to construct the Tipaimukh dam in the northeastern part of the country. These will impact the water availability in Bangladesh as well as the ecological condition of the rivers. Fisheries and agriculture activities within Bangladesh are expected to be impacted by these developments.


Preferred & Available Stress Tolerant Varities

The following stress tolerant crop varities are developed by different agencies of Bangladesh and can be used to combat climate change.

Flood Tolerant

BRRI dhan 51, BRRI dhan 52, BRRI dhan 79, (can withstand 18-21 days of submergence); BINA dhan 11, BINA dhan 12, (20-25 days submerged tolerant), BRRI dhan 91, (medium low and where water level below 1 meter).

Diseases Tolerant

BINA dhan-25,(moderate YSB resistant); BRRI dhan 101,(Bacterial Leaf Blight resistant), Binamoog-7, Binamoog-8, Binamoog-9, Binamoog-10, Binamoog-11, (Yellow Mosaic Virus and Cercospora Leaf Spot Resistant); BARI Mung-4, BARI Mung-6, BARI Gom 30, BARI Gom 33,

Other Stress Tolerant

Stress tolerant other corp varities: BARI Gom 30, BARI Gom 31, (heat tolerant, leaf blight tolerant and rust-resistant); Binamoog-11, (drought and high temperature tolerant) .

Highlited Approach

Potential Impact and Adaptation Option

For Agriculture Sector

  • Potential Impact & Risk
  • Adaptation Intervention
  • Adaptation Measures
Climate Signal and Hazards Potential Impacts Risk Level
SSP1-2.6 SSP5-8.5
Excessive Rainfall
  • Waterlogging and drainage problem
  • Frequent erosion
++ +++
Extreme Heat
  • Decreases perennial water bodies and wetlands
+ ++
Frequent River Flood
  • Sediment problem
  • Prolonged waterlogging
+ +++
Early or Frequent Flash Floods
  • Drainage problems in D/S
  • Sediment problem
  • Navigation problem
  • Water management infrastructures become dysfunctional/ damaged
  • Submersible embankment breach
++ +++
Severe Drought/Water Scarcity
  • Less water availability
  • Hampered water security
  • Dependency on groundwater increases, and Groundwater depletion
++ ++
Salinity Increase
  • Less freshwater availability
  • Unfavorable water quality
+ ++
Frequent Cyclone and Storm Surge
  • Polder or coastal embankment breach
  • Water quality deteriorated
  • Saline water ingress
++ +++
Sea Level Rise
  • Salinity increase
  • Inundated land area increases, and potential land loss
+ ++

*Risk level: low (+), medium (++) and high (+++)

Code Interventions Domain NAP Strategy Priority Cost (Billion BDT) Private Sector Investment Potential
CSA1 Extension of climate smart technologies for increasing irrigation water use efficiency SWM | SEE | CHT | FPE | HFF | DBA CBL | NNW | CHI | URB S1.1, S1.2, S1.3, S2.1, S2.2, S2.3 High 313 10%
CSA2 Augmentation of surface water for multipurpose use and irrigation SWM | SEE | CHT | FPE | HFF | DBA CBL | NNW | CHI | URB S2.1, S2.2, S2.4, S1.1, S1.2, S1.3, S4.1, S4.2 High 313 10%
CSA3 Extension of stress, pest and diseases tolerant rice and non-rice cropst SWM | SEE | CHT | FPE | HFF | DBA CBL | NNW | CHI S2.1, S2.4, S1.3, S4.1, S4.2 High 846 5%
CSA4 Introduction and up-scaling of innovative and indigenous agriculture SWM | SEE | CHT | FPE | HFF | DBA CBL | NNW | CHI | URB S2.1, S2.4, S1.3, S4.1, S4.2 High 20 5%
CSA5 Crop diversification/intensification for natural resources optimization and reducing stresses of existing and potential climate stress based on climate sensitive crop zoning SWM | SEE | CHT | FPE | HFF | DBA CBL | NNW | CHI | URB S2.1, S2.4, S1.3, S4.1, S4. Moderate 15 20%
CSA6 Farm modernization/ mechanization to reduce climate vulnerability SWM | SEE | CHT | FPE | HFF | DBA CBL | NNW | CHI S2.1, S2.3, S2.4, S1.3 Moderate 15 5%
CSA7 Increase fertilizer use efficiency for enhancing the production (fertilizer deep placement, organic amendment, green manuring, leaf color charts, soil test-based fertilizer application) SWM | SEE | CHT | FPE | HFF | DBA CBL | NNW | CHI S2.1, S1.3, S4.1, S4.2 High 106 40%
CSA8 Extension of Good Agriculture Practices (GAP), Modern Agriculture Technology (MATH) and Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT) SWM | SEE | CHT | FPE | HFF | DBA CBL | NNW | CHI S2.1, S2.4, S1.3, S4.1, S4.2, S4.3 High 103 10%
CSA9 Strengthening and development of impact based Early Warning System and Data Management for Agriculture Nationwide S2.1, S2.2, S2.3, S1.3 High 25 5%
CSA10 Improvement of storage or post-harvest facilities, transport, communication and e-commerce based market facilities for agricultural product Nationwide S2.1, S2.4, S1.3, S4.1, S4.2 High 145 20%
CSA11 Development of agro-food processing industries based on climate-sensitive crop zoning Nationwide S2.3, S1.3 High 52 40%
CSA12 Development of e-commerce and engagement of gender and youth for e-commerce based entrepreneurship Nationwide S2.1, S2.3, S1.3, S4.2 Moderate 11 20%
WDM1: Management and timely maintenance of inside and outside of coastal polders, sea dykes, embankments and cyclone shelters in an integrated and gender sensitive way considering the sea level rise and extreme storm surge height
  • Repair, construct and rehabilitate coastal polders, sea dykes, embankments, and cyclone shelters considering the sea level rise and extreme storm surge height under varying climate change scenarios
  • Regular and timely O&M of coastal polders/ flood embankments
  • Inside polder management through innovative WRM such as Tidal River Management (TRM)
  • Development of storm surge model and impact-based operational early warning and community-based dissemination system for cyclonic storm surge and facilitating emergency response
  • Regular and periodic M&E system development for polder/embankment management
  • Financial protection of critical coastal infrastructures through risk transfer or insurance mechanism
  • Gender-responsive and youth volunteered effective evacuation mechanism during disaster following updated Standing Order on Disaster (2019)
  • Climate-resilient (flood, storm surge, wind tolerant) housing development for coastal poor and vulnerable communities
  • Introduce ‘ limate Resilience llo ance or Fund’ or people in t e most vulnerable areas
  • Integrated climate and disaster risk reduction project
  • Awareness raising and behavioral change program for accessing cyclone or disaster shelters
  • Dighi, pond, reservoir, construction in coastal areas and drought-prone areas

Other NAP Sectors