BMGF_Aquaculture: increasing income, diversifying diets and empowering women in Bangladesh and Nigeria_Progress Narrative_November 2018 to December 2019
WorldFish signed its agreement with BMGF in November 2018 and moved quickly with establishment of the project teams in Bangladesh and Nigeria. Both country projects have made progress against the targets and milestones, though Bangladesh remains behind its anticipated targets and milestones at the end of 2019 due to a number of factors. These relate to delays in recruiting key national and international staff, the time taken to finalize agreements with major partners (BRAC and TMSS), identify Local Service Providers (LSPs) and time taken to negotiate arrangements with private companies that can support digital services. In hindsight, it could be argued that initial time-frames targets set were overly ambitious. As a result, the project was underspent in 2019. However, all key staff in Bangladesh have now been recruited, all components of the project are now moving ahead with purpose, increased expenditure and related activities are proposed for 2020 to get the project back on track. Key assessments have been completed. There are already positive signs that partnering with LSPs is going to be a very effective strategy to engage small-holder farmers to improve their aquaculture technology and productivity. In addition, early feedback from LSP businesses, indicate their training by WorldFish and their own farmer training is assisting their own business development. The training of LSPs and their farmer training has seen a significant engagement with and participation of women. Our partnership with BRAC, especially in nutrition messaging, is going to be very effective in reaching a large number of households, in both the study area and throughout Bangladesh, because of the reach of their existing health and nutrition programs. The completion of 3ie’s baseline survey in 2020, will provide an opportunity for the project to review its portfolio of investment in light of its findings, modify its activities and re-focus to optimize project outcomes. The Nigerian work is well on-track and on-target to accomplish all its activities in a timely manner in 2019, focusing on preparing to produce its major report milestone in mid-2020. The project in Nigeria has effectively engaged with the private sector, Government agencies, donors and research service providers. A symposium / workshop proposed for May is intended to consolidate a shared vision to drive future investment in Nigerian aquaculture. WorldFish remains optimistic of positive results in both Bangladesh and Nigeria, aligned to the shared vision for this project, developed with BMGF. Moving forward, adjustments have been made to the milestones and resourcing of the Bangladesh component of the project needs further review, in light of the costs of engagement with our NGO partners, funding required for digital engagement and the potential value of some focused consultancies to improve overall outcomes. Similarly, for the Nigerian part of the project, the mid-year Go-No-Go exercise will be an opportunity to reflect on future resourcing, once the results of the first 18 months of investigation have been analysed and a future directions agreed upon.