Strengthening collaborative research, enhancing the understanding and application of quantitative and qualitative data, and exploring modern techniques of data analysis were covered in a three-day visit (May 16 – 18) to Canberra by Bangladesh Agricultural University researchers. The CSIRO Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio (SDIP) Bangladesh team welcomed Dr Wakilur Rahman and Dr Hasneen Jahan from the Faculty of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology at Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU). The visit established stronger links between the BAU researchers and CSIRO social scientists, economists and hydrologists.
CSIRO has been working in Bangladesh for an extended period with a focus on the northwest. This region is considered the food bowl of Bangladesh and is one of the driest and poorest parts of the country with livelihoods very much attached to agricultural development. The Government of Bangladesh’s initiative to increase agricultural irrigation infrastructure in the northwest region has successfully increased agricultural production. The social, economic and environmental implications of this policy are a focal point for understanding integrated water resource management and data is vital to understanding these impacts. Data provides the evidence required by government agencies to understand the implications of their decisions in managing water resources with the aim to improve food security and economic prospects for local livelihoods. This is a logical path for developing evidence-based new agriculture and water-related policies and introducing changes to existing policies.
The team of BAU researchers presented the questionnaires, surveys and data used to compile a large and extensive qualitative dataset of 110 variables from more than 700 households in the northwest region of Bangladesh. The BAU researchers worked with CSIRO scientists, Mainuddin Mohammad, Shokhrukh Jalilov and Fazlul Karim to check and validate the dataset to improve the quality of the data, and developed scenarios for further data application.
Analysis and interpretation of the dataset was extensively discussed over the three days to understand the richness of information that can be extracted. Areas for further investigation by BAU researchers, students and CSIRO partners were identified and included:
In addition to mutual research collaboration, SDIP Bangladesh scientists support and advise Master of Science students at BAU. As a result of this collaboration one student defended their Master of Science thesis in December 2017 and six students are expected to graduate in June 2018. During this visit CSIRO and BAU researchers have discussed students’ progress and reviewed their draft Master of Science theses.
On the last day BAU researchers had a meeting with Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) staff and learnt more about the SDIP project activities in Bangladesh and how they can be supported. DFAT expressed interest in the BAU team progress in analysis of the collected household dataset and preliminary results related to gender issues in the region. They encouraged the BAU team and expressed willingness to communicate and promote their research results at a higher policy level in Bangladesh.
This work is part of a portfolio of investments supported by the Australian Government addressing the regional challenges of water, food and energy security in South Asia.
The SDIP Phase 2 aims to improve the integrated management of water, energy and food in the Himalayan river basins, addressing climate risk and the interests of women and girls. It seeks to: