Sustainability and Financing of Water Management: Operations & Maintenance in Coastal Polders

Sajjad Zohir

In association with

M.A. Sattar Mandal, Nityananda Chakravorty and Mutasim Billah Mubde



Historically, large investments, once resources are mobilized, is less of a concern than the difficulties faced in ensuring operation and maintenance (O&M). The adverse implications of poor O&M, of coastal embankments and the smaller infrastructures inside the catchment areas, are very significant. This paper focuses on coastal Polders and identifies the prerequisites for sustainable operations & maintenance (O&M) management of polders and proposes possible ways to finance the associated activities.

The paper
draws upon the experiences of coastal polders in the coastal districts in southwest and southcentral Bangladesh, and from an extensive review of publicly available reports, documents and articles. The review allowed reconstructing the evolution of organizations dealing with the water and coastal sectors. Field visits to Khulna, Satkhira, Patuakhali and Barguna were made during end 2019 till February 2020, prior to the formal commencement of the Corona pandemic in Bangladesh. The paper goes beyond issues raised in the publicly available literature, and looks into prospects of raising revenue from those benefiting from having wellmanaged polders. To that end, an operational framework is proposed. The paper also highlights on how risks may be mitigated through cooperation by financial supports across groups and regions. Finally, the paper recognizes the specialized nature of services required for coastal polder management and suggests aligning schoollevel education to groom local community in the fields of science of water. For the continuity of knowledge and for making room for innovative ideas, such initiatives may reduce present dependence on consultants and external organizers.

The paper is meant to provoke discussion on a neglecte
d area when Bangladesh starts its journey into the Delta Plan, and the authors’ efforts will be rewarded if the sector is reorganized taking note of all economic incentive issues, beyond the absolutely necessary engineering aspects.


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