Asia

Community-based sustainable management of Tanguar Haor

Project title: Community-based sustainable management of Tanguar Haor

Location: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj District, Sylhet Division

Project Duration: 2006 – 2016

Project background: Tanguar Haor is Bangladesh’s leading internationally significant freshwater wetland. The Haor territory spans over the two sub-districts of Tahirpur and Dharmapasha in the Sunamganj District, covering 9,727 hectares and supporting at least 60,000 people. The livelihoods of the poor community largely depend on the natural resources of Tanguar Haor and hence its social and economic importance is high.

In the past, Tanguar Haor has been subject to ‘elite capture’; rich and well-connected individuals would control the resources. The resource was fiercely guarded, leading to conflict and violence. Declaration of Tanguar Haor as an Ecologically Critical Area in 1999 and a Ramsar site in 2000 provided an opportunity for the government to test a new management paradigm.

Tanguar Haor needed a sustainable management strategy, particularly considering its national and international status, in order to address the pressures on its resources. The major obstacle for initiating community-based management was the ownership of Tanguar Haor and leasing system for its fisheries resources. In 2001, management and ownership of Tanguar Haor was transferred to Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), and subsequently the lease system was banned effectively. MoEF initiated a pilot project in Tanguar Haor, in which a management plan was developed with technical assistance from IUCN.

Although major successes have already been achieved from this project, the existing practices of the co-management system and supportive law and policy for Tanguar Haor management are still facing a number of challenges. A one-year extension currently in place is important in order to strengthen and deepen the successes so far achieved.

Objectives of the project: A collaborative management system is established for the conservation, stabilisation and sustainable use of the natural resources of Tanguar Haor that generates significant improvements in the livelihoods of rural communities. 

Outputs:

Phase I (2006 – 2009)

  • Selected communities of Tanguar Haor have the capacity and organisation to participate in pilot co-management activities
  • Institutional system is negotiated and piloted to support the development of a fully operational co-management system for Tanguar Haor
  • Knowledge on Tanguar Haor is organised to provide necessary input for the development phase
  • Cost recovery mechanisms developed

Phase II (2009 – 2012)

  • A community based management system is established for the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources of Tanguar Haor
  • A sustainable co-management body composed of the state, local government and communities manages the Tanguar Hoar
  • Opportunities have been generated for significant improvements in the livelihoods of communities around Tanguar Haor

Phase III (2012 – 2015)

  • The co-management system in Tanguar Haor is consolidated and effective
  • The communities of the Tanguar Haor have improved livelihoods and increased incomes
  • The sustainability is assured beyond project intervention

Expected outputs for Consolidation Phase (2015 – 2016): Tanguar Haor co-management committees independently implement their mandates effectively, accountably, transparently and in an inclusive manner; Poor communities make use of natural resources of Tanguar Haor and get benefits from their own financial institutions; and Tanguar Haor co-management model comprehensively understood and widely shared.

Donor:  Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)

Partners: Center for Natural Resource Studies (CNRS); Efforts for Rural Advancement (ERA); HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation; Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA); and Gana Unnayan Sangstha (GUS)

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