Project Documents





Project Dates

01/10/2002 - 10/01/2020


More than 13 million people in Bangladesh are dependent upon floodplains for fisheries- and agriculture-related food security. Over 40% of Bangladesh's floodplains have been compartmentalised to give more control over water for rice growing, but this in turn has restricted access to fish which would normally contribute significantly to resources available to poor communities. Sluice gates are used to control water in the compartments.

Enhancement of natural fish populations through more rational water management in these areas would benefit many people. Improved regimes for the operation of sluice gates, for the mutual benefits of fish and rice need to be devised. To achieve this, it is necessary to understand the dynamics and timing of discharge from sluice gates controlling water in compartments in relation to migrant behaviour of the fish.


The project has improved the understanding of the effects of using sluice gates through three main research areas. Firstly, hydraulic operations associated with sluice gates were assessed over an annual cycle in order to determine the purpose of each water exchange in relation to rice growing and how this compared with seasonal movements of fish.

Secondly, movement of major fish species were recorded in the vicinity of active sluice gates using catch monitoring and mark-recapture techniques, to determine how recruitment of adult fish to compartments could be enhanced by alterations in sluice gate operations and design.

Thirdly, a community-based participatory research approach was used to examine patterns of fishing and rice growing inside and outside compartments in order to determine relative dependency on agriculture and fisheries. Existing decision-making mechanisms related to sluice gate operation were investigated and methods of improvement and incorporation of findings into the decision making process were assessed.


The project produced guidelines for development of a procedure for the optimal operation of sluice gates. These guidelines take account of both the need for irrigation water and the requirements for the fisheries, and seek to integrate the two. The guidelines aimed to achieve uptake of the best practice procedures by local communities via promotion to intermediary NGOs and government agencies.

Dissemination of research results at a local government level workshop resulted in an agreement to alter sluice gate operation. Research results have also been published in a local Pabna newsletter (in local languages), and a three page project results brief was disseminated to over 100 key government and non-government national decision and policy makers in the area of water management, fisheries and agriculture.