An integrated approach to improving rural livelihoods: examples from India and Bangladesh
This paper presents an overview of work in West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and SW Bangladesh through a series of projects from 2005 to the present, considering the impact of farming systems, water shed development and/or agricultural intensification on livelihoods in selected rural areas of India and Bangladesh. The projects spanned a range of scales spanning from the village scale (∼ 1 km 2) to the meso-scale (∼ 100 km 2), and considered social as well as biophysical aspects. They focused mainly on the food and water part of the food-water-energy nexus. These projects were in collaboration with a range of organisations in India and Bangladesh, including NGOs, universities, and government research organisations and departments. The projects were part funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, and built on other projects that have been undertaken within the region. An element of each of these projects was to understand how the hydrological cycle could be managed sustainably to improve agricultural systems and livelihoods of marginal groups. As such, they evaluated appropriate technology that is generally not dependent on high-energy inputs (mechanisation). This includes assessing the availability of water, and identifying potential water resources that have not been developed; understanding current agricultural systems and investigating ways of improving water use efficiency; and understanding social dynamics of the affected communities including the potential opportunities and negative impacts of watershed development and agricultural development.