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Sustainability of Community Based Organisations in Bangladesh

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Thompson, Paul
Conference: Sustaining Commons: Sustaining Our Future, the Thirteenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Hyderabad, India
Conf. Date: January 10-14
Date: 2011
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/7354
Sector: Fisheries
Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): flood management
community development
water resources
Abstract: "In recent decades community based management of commons has been emphasised, whether based on existing local institutions or new local organisations. Bangladesh has a long experience of establishing community based organisations (CBOs) to improve management of freshwater fisheries and floodplain resources since the mid 1990s. Several hundred such CBOs have been formed, aimed at: empowering local communities, especially the poor; sustaining common natural resource bases particularly fish and water; and achieving a fairer distribution of benefits. Initiatives have been project based, raising questions over sustainability of such arrangements, what conditions enable CBOs to sustain, and whether the institutions for commons management change over time. This paper examines the approaches adopted in structuring CBOs, how they have evolved, and the performance of CBOs. The paper is based on work with about 250 existing CBOs that graduated from direct project support and have networked together to learn from their experiences. This reveals that most CBOs are interested to improve their performance in terms of the productivity of their commons, their governance, and the role of and benefits to the poor. On average 64% of CBO members are poor, and almost all CBOs report regularly consulting with poor floodplain resource users. Although most CBOs report that a few traditional users of aquatic resources lost access, 90% claim that overall the access of the poor improved, and this is supported by rules that allow subsistence fishing by the poor, for example. CBOs have over time and by learning from their peers broadened their interests in natural resource management by adopting rules and norms limiting surface water abstraction, pesticide use, hunting, etc., as well as widely adopted fish sanctuaries and closed seasons. Governance has also strengthened with wider adoption of transparency in financial management and elections of leaders."

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