PADMA Network is a realistic initiative to enhance awareness about the Environment of the Ganges Dependent Area in Bangladesh and to conserve the Environment of the region. It is a forum of 30 NGOs working in this region. PADMA Network was formed in August, 2000. The Network has a set target to initiate program for building capacity of the member NGOs, arrange seminars and workshops regarding River Management and Environment, publish regular bulletins and booklets about environmental issues, collect and disseminate information among the member NGOs. The activities of the member NGOs of PADMA Network are spread over the Ganges Dependent Area of Bangladesh including the districts of Kushtia, Meherpur, Chuadanga, Jessore, Narail, Jhinaidah, Magura, Bagerhat, Khulna and Satkhira. PADMA Network is the sole network of NGOs working to ensure participation of the people in the development, conservation of environment and river management in this region of Bangladesh.
PADMA Network is a non-profit, non-political voluntary organization emerging as a Networking forum of NGOs working for the development and conservation of environment and river management in the Ganges Dependent Area of Bangladesh, envisages to design specific and specialized programs for developing the capacities of the member NGOs, consolidate the integration among them, collect and disseminate information about the various environmental issues with special emphasis upon river management, to improve and conserve environmental soundness in the region.
PADMA Network believes that only
by raising the awareness of the people, appropriate river management strategies
could be evolved. The Network wants to enhance the capability of all NGOs
working in this region, including its members, in raising the awareness
of the people in respect of river management and other environmental issues
and appropriate solutions.
India started construction of the Farakka Barrage
in the 1960s reportedly for augmenting the flow of water in the Hooghly
river to improve the navigability of Calcutta port, and the barrage camc
into operation after a temporary water sharing arrangement was reached
with Bangladesh in 1974. When the proposal for the Farakka Barrage was
made, there were also proposals to
Construct a similar barrage in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) to ensure the flow of fresh water from the Ganges to the Ganges Dependent Areas in Bangladesh. However, the proposal remained limited to a few studies and reports and nothing concrete was achieved for over 35 years. However, after the Ganges Water Sharing Agreement was signed between India and l3angladesh, the government of I3angladcsh finally decided to construct a barrage on the Ganges. This decision has led to a debate on the plea that construction of such large-scale water management works has caused damage to environment the world over. But the proponents of the project claim that it will reverse the trend of environmental damage being caused to the region by the gradual reduction and almost total stoppage of fresh water flow in the region through the last three or four centuries. In order, therefore, to take this debate further and by that means to achieve positive results by engaging in pro-people activism, and in order to enhance the capability of the NGOs working in the Ganges Dependent Area of Bangladesh, 28 potential NGQs have been formed into a Network titled PADMA Network. The functions of the Network will be to enable the people living in the Ganges Dependent Area to actively participate in all the water resource management projects to be undertaken by the government in an informed manner to protect the environment and ecology of the region for the best advantage of the inhabitants.
B. GOAL OF THE PROJECT
The Goal of the Project is to enable the NGOs working in the Ganges Dependent Area to create awareness among the inhabitants of the region in respect of River Management and Development and thus ensure long-term Water Resource Development in the Region with the full participation of the people, by means of enhancing the capability of the NGQs through necessary Training and provision of Information.
Due to lack of appropriate river management in the Ganges Dependent Area, our river resources are falling into the grip of various problems on the one hand, while serious lack of water for irrigation is also being felt all over the region. While the siltation and other causes have reduced the capacity of the rivers, resulting in destructive floods during the rainy season, the region experiences serious drought during the months from November to May.
To solve these inter-related problems and to make
best use of the opportunity offered by the long term Ganges Water Sharing
Agreement wsith India, the Government of Bangladesh has proposed the construction
of a barrage on the Ganges. In order, however, to ensure sustainability
to the solution of this environmental problem, it is necessary to ensure
the participation of the people in all development projects to be undertaken
in the region.
For achieving this objective, it is necessary to organize the people and to fulfil the information needs of Environmental and Development activists, Journalists and concerned citizens. The PADMA Network will be able to fulfil this important responsibility.
At the timc of thc formation of this Network, the people concerned did not have any clear idea about the inter-relationships between River Management and Development. Most of the NGOs concerned were engaged in implementing their local development projects, and were unable to understand the connection between Appropriate River Management and the development of their targeted beneficiaries, though in reality, River Management is intimately related to the development of the region and its people. But as a result of the formation of the PADMA Network, the concerned NGQs have realized the importance of this inter-relationship.
C. ACC0MPLISHMENT BY OUTPUT (CON1I’ONENT) ARLX
28 NGOs who are members of the Khulna, Jessore and Kushtia Chapters of ADAB have been brought into the PADMA Network. As such, the area coverage of the Network is coincidental with the area coverage of the above mentioned ADAB Chapters.
Enhanced Capability of the Networking NGOs in organizing the people and creating awareness among them about the need for appropriate river management and about sustainable development, so as to make them capable of intelligently participating in all development projects to be undertaken in the region:
The activities conducted during the period under review include:
• NGO Meetings
• Training of NGO personnel in “inter-relationship of River Management and Development”.
• Development of a Resource Centre.
As a result of these activities, the following Results have been achieved
a) There have been 3 meetings of member-NGOs of
the PADMA Network. As a result of these meetings, the Network has become
better organized and the Networking NGOs have become better known to one
another. It has also been Possible to collect indigenous peoples’ knowledge
and experience in respect of the rivers of the region by mutual exchanges
of information on the subject.
b) As a result of 50 NGO personnel obtaining Training under this project, they have now become better informed about the development and river management needs of the region. They have also learned about the history of the rivers of the region, their flows and trends, water-logging, and siltation of river-beds. They have also gained an understanding of the development projects implemented in the region in the past, and obtained an appropriate development perspective for the region.
c) Two issues of the Bulletin PADMA have been published, which has already attracted the attention of government agencies and others concerned with the region.
d) Our organizers have collected a wealth of information about the rivers, development projects, water-logging and its causes as well as geographical and topographical data and environment in respect of the region. A number of hooks and journals on the rivers of the region as well as on environment have been collected. All this information has been preserved in our fast developing Resource Centre.
Expected Results of the Activities conducted so
As a result of the abhove mentioned activities, we expect to achieve the under-mentioned results
• The Network will be further consolidated;
• At least two personnel from each networking NGO will become trained in River Management and Development so that they will be able to discuss these matters with the people in their respective working areas and to collect necessary information from them.
• Two issues of the bulletin PADMA will be issued which will be at the same time Awareness material as well as Advocacy Tools.
• A team of trainers and training materials will be developed.
• A Resource Centre will be developed, which will fulfil the information needs of researchers, development and environmental activists, journalists and the people in general in respect of River Management and Environment of the region.
Chunges happened (Result of Activities)- 2000
• A Secretarial has been established for the PADMA Network, and the Secretarial has
completed the preparatory work for the ,management of Secretariat.
• The Secretariat is fulfilling the Junctions in respect of maintaining regular communications with the member organization,. sending letters of them regularly, inviting their personnel for training and collecting information from them in respect of the recent flood.
• Preparation of the hand-outs for the trading
personnel of tile member organizations during training, management of the
training process, prepared and collection of necessary training necessary
training materials arrangements with trainers/facilitators, all are being
performed by the Secretarial in an adequate manner.
• The Secretarial has developed working relationships with the Kkhulna, Jessore, and Kushtia chapters of ADAB, Khulna University, BWDB, WAPRO, Newspaper offices and the Press Clubs.
• The Secretariat has proved its worth byCollecting material for the Resource Centre.
• The Secretariat has not yet achieved the desired efficiency.
• It has not been possible to establish upto the
mark communications with the member organizations.
• It has not been possible to conduct visits to the establishments of thc member organizations to the desired cxtcnt.
• Due to the occasional failure of the member organizations to intimate in advance the particulars of their personnel selected for training, it is not always possible to know how many NGO personnel would he participating in the next training session.
• The member organizations arc not adequately responding to the needs of the PADMA bulletin articles, reports etc. are not forthcoming from them in sufficient quantity.
On review of our experiences, it has become clear that rivers have played the most important role in the development of civilization in this region. Failure to understand the importance of appropriate river management and resultant inappropriate human intervention has caused widespread damage to the environment of the region. Non-government voluntary organizations are in direct day to day contact with the people. As a result of the formation of PADMA Network, the issue of River Management has come to the forefront of their thinking. As such, the initial expectation from the Network has been fulfilled. In a short period of five months, the issues raised by PADMA Network has achieved great importance in the line of thinking of NGOs and concerned citizens. The importance of the inter-relationship between River Management and Development has gained further importance as the government has taken up plans to construct the Ganges Barrage. And we are confident that the PADMA Network will be able to ensure the participation of the People in the construction of that important infrastructure for development.
E. HIGHLIGHTS OF NEXT PLAN:
In the light of the experience of the last live months of the year 2000, we undertake to implement the undermentioned work plan for the year 2001.
• Enhance the efficiency of the Secretariat and make it fully capable of undertaking all kinds of responsibilities, by means of Intensified stall’ training.
• Meetings with networking NGOs to her continued as in 2000.
• Regional NGO meetings to bring about closer cooperation among network members and visits to establishments and working areas of member NGOs.
• Strengthening and further development of the Resource Centre.
• Publication of PADMA Bulletin to continue.
• Publication of easy reading materials for the general public on Environment, Development, River Management and other issues of thc Ganges Dependent Area of Bangladesh.
• Continued/Refresher Training to personnel of NGO partners.
• Issue-based Workshops with Concerned citizens, Professionals and. Journalists, both at Khulna and at regional level.
• Press Conferences, as and when necessary.
• Observance of World Environment Day, 2001
Contact Address: The PADMA Network,
Phone: 88 – 041 – 725772
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