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Dhaka Tribune

What is the Asian mega-deltas initiative?

Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam are part of the AMD

Update : 10 Mar 2024, 09:24 AM

CGIAR – the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research – together with government agencies and other relevant stakeholders, launched the ‘Initiative on Securing the Food Systems of Asian Mega-Deltas for Climate and Livelihood Resilience (AMD)’ in Dhaka in August 2022.

With the goal of promoting resilient, inclusive, and productive Asian Mega-Deltas, the first 3-year phase of AMD (2022-24) initiative focused on the three main deltas in Asia: the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta in Bangladesh and India, Irrawaddy Delta in Myanmar, and Mekong River Delta in Vietnam and Cambodia.

In late February and early March this year, Dhaka hosted the annual meeting of CGIAR Initiative on AMD with high hopes of it rolling out to a second three-year cycle (2025-27) and thousands of farming households, particularly in Bangladesh’s saline-prone regions of south and southwestern coastal belts benefiting from the AMD initiative. There are 1.2 million hectares of farmlands in Bangladesh’s coastal polder zone.   

Headquartered in France’s Montpellier, CGIAR is the world’s largest global agricultural innovation network. CGIAR Research Centers are non-profit research organizations conducting innovative research. Home to more than 9,000 scientists, researchers, technicians and staff, the Centers work to transform food, land and water systems in a climate crisis.

The CGIAR Initiative on Asian Mega-Deltas aims to create resilient, inclusive and productive deltas that maintain socio-ecological integrity, adapt to climatic and other stressors and support human prosperity and wellbeing. 

Home to 177 million people, the densely populated Asian mega-deltas are biodiverse, fertile and productive food baskets dominated by rice, fisheries and aquaculture and so hold great potential of making the regional and food systems more sustainable. They support millions of people beyond the delta dwellers themselves. Deltas are nearing a significant tipping point. Tens of millions of small-scale producers in Asian mega-deltas face risks to food and nutrition security and livelihoods from the impacts of climate change. 

Recent models of coastal elevation show that the Asian mega-deltas are much lower than previously assumed and will be severely affected by more frequent and more intense floods, sea-level rise and salinization of freshwater and soil. The models also predict water shortages, severe cyclones and climate extremes, which could lead to an annual loss of 6% of GDP in Southeast Asia, over twice the global average. These trends will put increased pressure on those remaining. The result is likely further erosion of food security and increased poverty and hunger. 

AMD Objective

The AMD initiative aims to create resilient, inclusive and productive deltas, which maintain socio-ecological integrity, adapt to climatic and other stressors, and support human prosperity and wellbeing, by removing systemic barriers to the scaling of transformative technologies and practices at community, national and regional levels. 

Bangladesh apart. AMD initiative’s mandated countries also include India, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam. At the recent Dhaka meet, Vietnam awarded a certificate of merit to the CGIAR Initiative on Asian Mega-Deltas (AMD) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for their outstanding performance in implementing AMD, contributing to the sustainable development of the country’s agriculture and rural development sector. Dr. Dao The Anh, Vice President of the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences presented the award to IRRI and AMD through Dr. Bjoern Ole Sander and Dr. Khondker Murshed-e-Jahan, lead and co-lead of AMD, respectively.

Five focus areas

The CGIAR Initiative on Asian Mega-Deltas is working to identify, synthesize, evaluate, adapt and scale technical, institutional and policy innovations through a range of activities focused on the following five specific areas:  

  • Improving deltaic production systems: Working with farmers and local governments to identify, synthesize, evaluate and scale interventions to ensure systems can adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change. 
  • Developing nutrition-sensitive deltaic agrifood systems: Promoting sustainable production and consumption of nutritious foods, involving institutional stakeholders in the co-design of investment strategies and interventions. 
  • De-risking delta-oriented value chains: Using digital climate advisory and complementary services and engaging with stakeholders at all levels to reduce climate risks among smallholders (including women and youth) and facilitate investment in deltaic value chains. 
  • Facilitating inclusive deltaic food-systems governance: Strengthening capacities of national, provincial and local actors to plan, design and implement more sustainable food systems and improve inclusivity and accountability of public and private agriculture related investments and interventions in the Asian mega-deltas.  

Introducing evidence-based delta development planning: Improving the development of climate-resilient and inclusive food systems in Asian mega-deltas through evidence-supported policy dialogue and strategic planning, including dual adaptation/mitigation development options in national and sub-national planning for the deltas.  

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