Call edition 2012
A new edition of the Prize of the Belgian Development Cooperation has been launched. This call is open until March 31st, 2011. You can read in the regulations whether you comply with the criteria for participation.
This thesis was written as part of the ‘Master of Science in Water Resources Engineering’ degree programme and sets out a model of the interactions between groundwater and surface water, with the goal of facilitating water management. Specifically, the model is applied in detail to irrigation farming in northwest Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is highly dependent upon agriculture. In recent years, the demand for irrigation water – especially for rice cultivation – has risen sharply, resulting in a significant drop in groundwater levels in many areas. In the area studied for this thesis, the demand for irrigation water hugely exceeds supply and in some places wells have consequently dried up.
In order to determine how the available water supply can best be used, this thesis develops a model for quantifying the interactions between groundwater and surface water. This interaction, in addition to replenishment of the underground water supply by seeping rainwater, is an essential yet extremely complex and difficult to calculate parameter for estimating the sustainable use of groundwater for irrigation.
The strength of this thesis is that, because the model it presents is based on both a sound theoretical foundation and a high degree of personal investment and creativity, especially in the last chapter, it formulates very practical recommendations for the agricultural sector in the study area. As such, the thesis surpasses the purely theoretical level and the approach it presents can be applied in a variety of contexts.
With a few adjustments, this model could indeed be used for making decisions about sustainable water management in other areas with an irrigation water shortage. The study thus combines sustainability and economic development, and shows that the two are not always in conflict, but are often very closely linked. The agricultural sector can only experience long-term development through the sustainable use of natural resources. In addition, stabilising or re-establishing groundwater depths will also guarantee the continued participation of small-scale farmers, who would be unable to continue growing their crops, when faced with continually dropping groundwater levels and the ensuing increased costs.
report: Mrs An Eijkelenburg, Department of Sectoral and Thematic Expertise, Belgian Technical Cooperation, Brussels, Belgium