Abstaining from catching fish in breeding season for poverty alleviation & sustainable development
Upazila Administration

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Bangladesh is a country of 1,56,570 sq. km area and a population of about 160 millions. The Mohonganj Upazila (an administrative area) is mainly a Haor area. Haor is an area of different topography containing diversified natural distribution. The area is submerged for six months and seems like an ocean. All fishes breed at a time during mid April to mid July. Because of poverty and illiteracy people caught the mother and brood fishes in these densely populated areas with illegal nets and devices. It was easy to catch in breeding time because the week brood fishes move in a group in shallow depth of water. The possibility of maximizing the quantity of fishes is hampered drastically because of killing the mother fishes. So problems were marked as follows: i) Acute visible scarcity of indigenous fishes was observed. ii) As almost all people live on fishing or related business. Per day income was decreasing Sharply. Illiteracy, early marriage, dowry, drug addiction, terrorism were increasing alarmingly. iii) Hoar is a rich water body of biodiversity. Because of unplanned fishing many species were disappeared. All species became extinct and endangered. iv) The number of other aquatic creatures were decreasing sharply. It created a threat to aquatic ecosystem. v) The people were depending more on Government relief and grants. The increasing number of people were showing repulsive attitude to work. vi) The poor and illiterate people were affected directly. In Haor areas people are surrounded by inundated water. So, the poor and illiterate people donot have other alternative to select as a way of livelihood.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Kazi Abed Hussain, the former Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) of Mohanganj Upazila of Netrokona district, Bangladesh who is working as the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Revenue), Kishoreganj proposed the solution. UNO is a government officer who is the administrative head of a Upazila. In 2008, he convinced the total poplation of the Upazila. A Population of about of 163 villages and approximately 276 sq. Km area did not catch fishes for four months of breeding season. The time was fixed by the Administration each year from 15th April to 3 or 4 months considering weather, disaster, socio-economic condition Following his planning and leadership the Upazila Administration continued the program in 2009, 2010. The same program he continued with the total population of about 500 thousands at Kurigram Sadar Upazila in 2011 and 2012 when he was transferred. Now ban on hilsa fish (the national fish) is being observed in breeding time each year from 2011 intensively. Government is preparing the list of fishermen countrywide. So it will be easier to support them with food during period. For the survival of the fishermen the Upazila Administration started an innovative initiative like saving in good times for facing the hard times. In this program everybody has saved a money of a cup of tea each day and deposited 100 taka (unit of currency) in a bank by maintaining a Co-operative comprising of around 100 people in each. They invested the money in different business using the local resources. They started micro credit program with their own money without any percentage of interest. The UNO titled the whole program “UJJAL MOHANGANJ” In Kurigram Sadar Upazila it was termed as Ujjal Kurigram. Ujjal is a bengali term which means Bright or enlightened. For implementing his plan no Government money was invested. It is also important to notice that there was no deterioration of law & order situation. The main objectives of his work were: a) To make a visible change in livelihood of the people of backward places and inaccessible areas. b) To utilize local resources effectively for sustainable economic development. c) To raise the potentiality of every individual to expedite growth and development. d) To increase the number of indigenous fishes and catch them in a sustainable way. To concern the extinct fishes. e) To develop economic activities in rural community keeping harmony with local factors, parameters, environment and situation. f) To make rural people self dependent and self employed by developing self resilience. For this extra ordinary work the different media have telecast news and documentaries, news papers printed news and editorial. It was appreciated by the World Bank and the Concerned Ministry. The UNO was awarded National Gold Medal and certificate by the Honorable Prime Minister of Bangladesh. A project was taken by the Government to disseminate the good practice in each District and Upazila.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The initiative was innovative in following views: a) Government is spending lots of money and taking efforts for increasing the production of fishes. Many of the attempts were generating more heat than light. This initiative increased the production without spending the Government money. b) Research cost is high and its not possible to increase each species by research. Its a planning generated from nature and its positive impact is same in all species. c) The endangered fishes and other creatures are returning back to nature. d) Government is donating money and food stuffs regularly to the people under social safety net programs. By giving priority to the fishermen the Government’s help is becoming meaningful and sustainable. e) Without loss of money and assets the daily income of 35,000 families was possible to increase remarkably. f) we can get millions of fishes, and feed millions of people from a few fishes following a plan of three months only. A ten taka can generate approximately 300 thousands of ten taka. If It is followed countrywide we can receive a similar amount of money of national budget each year. g) Its a gate way of making self independent of millions of people

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The strategy was fixed and implemented considering the socioeconomic condition, climatic condition, nature and habit of common people etc. a) Series of meetings were arranged with politicians. Local elites, businessmen, peoples representatives Government officials, cultural societies, club members, teachers, journalists and others. The strategy were fixed with their help and it was revised where necessary. b) In order to give support to the people in ban period UNO with the help of Upazila chairman (People’s representative of Upazila) prepared a list of amounts of running and possible Governments aids and helps. c) The union chairman (union is a unit comprised of a number of villages) made a list of fishermen & vulnerable peoples. d) The total Upazila was divided in different zones. e) Chairman and local influential people gathered the people in a common and popular place. UNO with his Government officers went there and delivered speech to convince them for the initiative. It started four months before the breeding season starts. He made them unified, dedicated and patriotic. The program ran continuously in every night because the poor people work in the day time. f) The Administration involved the NGOs and other bodies to ensure the program in field level specially among their own beneficiaries. g) IN social programs, class rooms, mosques everywhere it became an important issue to consult and share. h) In the same time Co-operatives were formed with around 100 people in each and everybody started saving a day an amount of a cup of tea per day 100 taka a month. i) Government aids which usually delivered to people regularly were distributed this time to those who are giving something to the nation.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The whole population of the Upazila were the stakeholders. The program were designed with about 400 thousands of people including 35 thousands fishermen families of 163 villages at Mohanganj Upazila of Netrokona district of Bangladesh. When planty of fishes reproduced within ban period, the whole nation brought under the service of the attempt. The UNO Kazi Abed Hussain designed and fixed the steps to achieve the goal. The senior Upazila Fisheries Officer contributed in the program. Ultimately civil servants of all departments of the Government, Organizations of home and abroad, NGO’s, school & colleges and private bodies became the part of this nation building work.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
There was no fund for implementing the initiative. It was just a plan to bring the people on the same platform mentally. To make them interested following attempts were taken. a) Everybody of the co-operative saved a money of a cup of tea each day and the money was collected in a systemic way and was deposited in a desired bank. b) They are taking decision to use and invest their money in local resources collectively or in individual business. c) The profit earned is being used simultaneously for raising the fund. d) The fishermen were given importance in all Government offices. e.g. land office, social welfare office. e) They were given importance in services like hospital, school etc. f) As the fishermen were given priority, the Government regular aids under social safety net program acted like fund. The Government aids include Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF), Vulnerable Group Development (VGD) etc. g) By observing the initiative for continuous four years Government has allocated 232 Metric Tons of rice as Gratuitous Relief (GR) on the 5th observing year for the fishermen who were not catching fish in breeding time.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The program brought success and hope to the people of locality and to the nation. The major points are outlined below: a) In the climatic condition of Bangladesh, an indigenous fish gives birth of nearly 300 thousands of brood fishes at a time. Some fishes give birth to maximum three times in a breeding season of four months. b) It became possible that the production increased at least 4 to 5 times. In Everyday it was counted at Mohanganj that 50 to 70 tracks or lorries were transporting fish to Dhaka and other parts of the country for 5 months. c) Different media had telecast that 20 species of extinct fishes returned back to the nature. Other creatures increased in natural harmony as they got standard aquatic environment. d) As the number and quantity of fishes increased the daily income of near about 35,000 fishermen families increased up to 800-1000 taka from 200-250 taka as the marginal farmers are marginal fishermen in Bangladesh. Thousands of family were becoming self dependent economically. e) A new concept developed- i) Creation of fund by the beneficiaries own, ii)Interest free micro credit system and iii) invest in local resources sustainably to be self employed.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
It was a bit important to monitor regularly as the total population was spontaneously maintaining that. There was a body of young generation in each Hoar village. Officers of different departments were engaged to monitor the program forming some individual teams. Chairman’s of different unions also formed body of young generations taking members from some youth clubs to monitor in their locality. local and national news papers and different electronic media evaluated the program by printing and telecasting. A body was formed comprising of officers, Journalists and members of civil society to observe the fish market, transports. A body was formed with officers from Government, non- Government and teachers to observe the spontaneity of the people. The progress was monitored by taking some steps with the people of the locality. The team was waiting in small ports on the bank of the haors, rivers, The monitored the monitored the mobility and availability of fishes.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The problem and solutions were likely as follows: a) In Haor areas the marginal fishermen are marginal farmers. Many of them live hand to month. So the main obstacle relates with their survival in ban period. The Administration had to try for the assurance of food and commodities for the poor fishermen during ban period as they had no alternative work to lead their life. b) The Haor has no boundary. the rivers running through also have the flow in different Upazilas. When the ban proposal was offered, people raised the problem that they are maintaining but people of other Upazilas are catching as the fishes are moving with a freedom. It was a hard reality to make them understand that fishes love to live in undisturbed zone and Mohonganj Upazila became a sanctuary for them. c) Because of illiteracy some fishermen beleived that some small fishes die within 15-20 days. they had to campaign and show document to face the problem. d) The journalists were not mentally really to receive at initial stage. The UNO had to show the news and views published in newspapers prior relating to protect indignenous mother and brood fishes. e) He had to do a hard job of convincing the businessman working in fish market, net makers and civil society. ultimately they understood the benefit of reproduction considering a few days. f) It was a challenge to convince them to take fish from pond and bay of Bengal in the ban period. In order to face the problems commonly these attempts were also taken i) The vulnerable people were given priority in getting government regular help and aids. ii) Forming Co-operatives and offering loan free from interest to start an alternative sustainable business. iii) Before dry season the total area was submerged. After ban period the common fishermen were allowed to catch fish in many areas which are leased out. iv) They were given service with importance in government office e.g. land office, Hospital, School etc.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The impact of the initiative was immense because each and every people of the large catchment area was benefited. The visible and direct changes are as follows: a) All fishes giving birth at a time. So, unlimited quantity fishes are coming out from a limited quantity of fish within a short period of time. It creates a rational ground of receiving an unlimited amount of money b) A renowned journalist of the country Mr. Shaiekh Siraj has shown in a TV program that 20 species of fishes came back to the watershed areas which were not found within 10 to 20 years. c) Per capita income of about 35000 families has increased from 200-300 taka to 800-1000 taka. Mobility and wave of economic benefit was spreading to related businessman, transporters, small sellers and laborers. d) The number and quantity of aquatic flora and fauna increased in harmony with nature. e) People were acknowledged with the sustainable development using their local resources. f) All people were brought under the service of Government umbrella. They came to understand that government tries to the best for their economic development. They also felt that they need to help the government for building the nation and poverty elevation. g) They were given priority in getting government aids, helps and services when they maintained the following aspects i) They will have to maintain family planning, ii) They will not be involved in early marriage and dowry. iii) They will have to be abstained from drug addiction. iv) They will have to send their kids to school. v) They will have to maintain sanitation in the family. h) The initiative taught the people to come out from the traditional practices. They have accepted to work collectively and follow the sustainable way of development. i) A delicate bridge was made with the community and administration. So Government was able to reach to each door. Without spending extra money the Administration was achieving these goals. The way has opened to achieve the goals without spending money and time as the people are on the same platform. The progress was evaluated by observing the number of increased fishes, increasing number of fish carried vehicles, availability of fishes in the market and increase of day income.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The initiative is simple and new one. It is sustainable and transferable in following ways: a) After the banning period people are watching visible change in quantity of fishes. They get straight benefit in protein consumption. The daily earning changes abruptly. So, people will be more interested gradually. Following 2 or 3 years it can be sustainable. b) It will be sustainable maintaining only by the local Government officers not by money and asset. Concerned Ministry can issue an order to maintain that by the regular Government aids and help. So the concept is easy to establish at home and worldwide by of responsibility to the concerned people issuing an order. c) People will be accustomed to the practice for their own interest and their economic change. So, they will take prior preparation for survival in burning period. One fisherman expressed his commitment through ATN (Bangla) TV channel. The sustainability will increase in time. d) Its an approach to stand on same mental platform. People of different sections will feel together gradually. e) The initiative does not cost anymore. It is not money related program. Sustainability is ensured if the design is perfectly done. f) No extra manpower, equipment, vehicle or logistic support is needed. It is sustainable because it is implementable by existing support and manpower. g) It is sustainable because it is financially, socially, economically, culturally, environ, mentally viable. It is transferable in following ways: a) It is an approach of development in and with the existing nature. So, it is applicable in any country and in any environment. b) In many countries scarcity of fishes becoming alarming. It is definitely a befitting approach in densely populated countries of the world specially in Asia and Africa. c) It is nicely transferable to those countries where environmental degradation is increasing.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The initiative was integrally field oriented. The experiences were extracted fully from field. The lessons from the attempt may be as follows: a) It is possible to bring all people on same platform in question of development b) Government and all inhabitants of a large area can stand hand in hand for a change. c) Following a practical based procedure step by step a design can bring a benefit to each and every beneficiary. d) A planning can achieve a goal without any cost of government. e) If Government or other agency takes the responsibility people can create a base of becoming self employed using local resources f) When a good approach develops as the reflection of new sunrise, other community like journalists, NGOs, businessman, freedom fighters of the nation and civil society extend their hands with cohesion. g) Its possible to control drug addiction, dowry, women and child oppression, early marriage, ensure education for all and family planning without any extra effort. h) Its possible to start an interest free micro credit program by the own money of beneficiaries.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Upazila Administration
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Abed Hussain
Title:   Former Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO), Mohanganj  
Telephone/ Fax:   +88094161883(fax),61834tnt +8801716269426 (Mobile)
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   kahussain71@gmail.com  
Address:   Additional Deputy Commissioner (revenue),Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Kishioreganj, Bangladesh
Postal Code:   2300
City:   Kishoreganj
State/Province:   Dhaka

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