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Community-Based Adaptation in North-West Bangladesh


Agro-forestry (adaptation)

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Agro-forestry is an integrated approach to the production of trees and of non-tree crops or animals on the same piece of land.

As part of a community-based adaptation project piloted by ActionAid Bangladesh, funded by the Embassy of Denmark, communities in Bangladesh had introduced several projects to increase resilience. In the drought-prone region of North-West Bangladesh, the community decided to plant mango trees along the roadside in collaboration with the local government to generate additional income.

However, when the mango plantations are grown by local landlords communities had noticed some negative effects. Communities noted that where the local landlords (shahus) switched from rice production to mango plantations without consultation with local communities, this led to a form of 'maladaptation'.  Mango trees are less labour intensive than paddy fields, and though they require less water, they also provide less work for agricultural labourers. Local communities reported that: “Those without land cannot cultivate mango trees on other people’s land. The rich people plant mango trees, and only call on us when they need us to do particular work, like spraying pesticides. The rest of the time we have no work.”

Community members felt that it was important that the benefits of agroforestry are shared to avoid greater inequity. Members of the local community described how they have a "new policy" of growing mango and onions together, and when the mango trees get too big "they grown turmeric and ginger" because these can survive in the shade.  This local innovation avoids any negative effects of mango-growing.

Author: Helena Wright

References: Local interviews (February 2012) and M Sajid Raihan, M Jahedul Huq, Nana Gerstrøm Alsted, Manja Hoppe Andreasen (2010)  Understanding climate change from below, addressing barriers from above: Practical experience and learning from a community-based adaptation project in Bangladesh.

Implementing Partners: 

ActionAid Bangladesh, DABI


Stage of Project: 
Main activity and output: 

The community in North-West Bangladesh are planting mango trees in collaboration with the local government.

Expected impact: 

Additional income for the local community, building relationships with local government, reduced consumption of water, and increased resilience in drought periods.

Information about costs: 


Lessons learned: 

-Benefit-sharing and local consultation is crucial to ensure benefits are shared equitably and avoid maladaptation.

-Access to land and tree tenure is a barrier to sharing benefits of additional income from agroforestry.