Revitalizing the Ganges coastal zone: turning science into policy and practices

The Ganges coastal zone of Bangladesh and West Bengal, India, is characterized by extremes in terms of both challenges and opportunities. Despite the huge investment in the coastal zone over the past 50 years, the poverty of farming families in the region remains extreme. The CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food’s conference ‘Revitalizing the Ganges Coastal Zone: Turning Science into Policy and Practices’ brought together researchers, extensionists, development partners and policy makers to share plans, progress and ideas for unlocking the production potential of the coastal zone. The 41 papers in these proceedings provide up-to-date information on current and likely future water resource availability, and opportunities for improving water management, increasing productivity, and improving livelihoods. Specific topics include: the current status of coastal zone surface water resources and likely impacts of key drivers of change, such as climate change, sea level rise and construction of the Ganges Barrage; opportunities for increasing the productivity of available surface and groundwater resources; current water governance policy and practice at local and Indo-Bangladesh scales, and proposals for improving water management through improved institutional arrangements; the importance of homestead production systems, their current (low) productivity, and opportunities for improving productivity and livelihoods and empowering women; opportunities for increasing the productivity of brackish water aquaculture; opportunities for increasing the productivity, diversity and resilience of rice-based production systems; outscaling of improved production technologies and extrapolation domains – which improved cropping systems are most suited to which parts of the coastal zone landscape.