Shimulbhanga is (was) flowing between Agailjhara & Gournadi Upazilla in Barisal District of Bangladesh.
Mainly due to various unisectoral development policies and practices – those have been pushed into the locality, most of the surface water sources are shrinking at a rapid speed and are being contaminated with agricultural inputs residues.
The major (may be the only) open water source in our local community, the historical canal SHIMULBHANGA was borne around the year 1893 is going to be vanished because of non renovation since dicades and of a failed sluice gate construction at one end- thus of siltation and encroachment. The canal was the habitat of enormous flora and fauna including 24 indigenous fish species, flood water recession channel, irrigation water supplier, transportation, loamy silt carrier for the lands, bathing of people and livestock, Children’s play ground of recreation and physical exercise. Ultimately it was the source of happiness to the locality.
But we – the local people were so much habituated to construct the development of common property like the Shimulbhanga under project culture and so we could not even think to renovate a yard ourselves. We simply lost the connection with the useful canal. Most of the community people even did not know its name. Thus the Shimulbhanga was going to be a memory only.
Since undertaking the action research initiative pertinent to water issues in the community, KSFVbd did provide the community with a good bulk of information gathered through various scientific sources, networks and newsletters. Made aware the local people with the existing situation and integrating ourselves to find out the possible solutions and strategy of the water struggle. Bridging the gap with water issue among farmers, researchers and policymakers is a good achievement of the institute. With the goal of making possible the renovation of Shimulbhanga, the initiative was lunched in 2000 while acting as a water voice messenger [Mr. Zakir; ID# 00854] to the 3rd World water Conference, the issue of Shimulbhanga was brought into light ranging from international to local level. Information then was collected from the community by interviewing, discussion, competition, local field study, survey and so on. A continuous knocking with both levels of research and action towards the forgotten mind of the local people mainly made it possible to think beyond project discourse with the Shimulbhanga. In the wetland day of 2005, children from the school marked the portion (about 500 feet) of Shimulbhanga in a magnificent way and festive mood.
The colourful flags raised the question marks with the canal. The total community and even the passersby did attracted with some remarks. News board, non stop discussion, traditional information sharing mechanisms were being used properly for communicating. The activities were displayed audio visually. Mass of the local people were touched by the enthusiasm of their children. They instantly promised to provide 200 people with spades on the renovation day. The issue was raised at different national seminars, workshops. At begening of 2006, the government did include Shimulbhanga in the list of ‘To be renovated”. But the total project did not started yet because of ‘lack of fund’.
Now the initiative of our institution with Shimulbhanga is to renovate 9000 feet during a festival day of coming dry season. So that the local people (including elites) will be more enthusiastic to be involved with our own development by ourselves.
In the mean time, some of us are connecting our ponds with Shimulbhanga to restore the synchronized water ecosystem. We are conserving ponds for drinking water as alternative to contaminated ground water. We are re-looking the water and water sources as living being. Communities around our community will be stimulated to undertake such initiative by perceiving the new style of water bodies’ development.