Project Overview

IWMI is coordinating a project to investigate flood-based farming systems in Myanmar, as part of an international program on Flood Based Farming Systems (FBFS) funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The project aims to enhance capacity of decision makers, extension officers and local communities to improve productivity and identify the full benefits of flood-based farming systems (FBFS).  Flood-Based Livelihoods Network - MyanmarIn Myanmar, we will be working to understand the status of FBFS in the Ayeyarwady Delta; trends and their drivers, and opportunities to sustainably strengthen FBFS contributions to human development in the Delta and broader national development objectives.

Pressures such as population growth, urbanization, migration and altered consumption patterns, along with climate change are rapidly transforming traditional production systems.  There is an urgent need to understand the trade-offs between modern food production practices, and existing social-ecological systems which provide a wide range of benefits, including fish habitat, flood mitigation and biodiversity as well as agricultural production. This understanding needs to inform the changing policy landscapes related to natural resources management and human development. This also calls for developing in-country capacities to support these production systems and represent them in the policy arena.


The project is based around three core activities that respond to the need to update the knowledge base on current conditions and trends related to FBFSs, development of in-country capacities and networks, and promote  knowledge of FBFSs to decision makers.

Knowledge development and management

A case study-based and consultative survey of FBFS in the Ayeyarwady Delta will support a comprehensive document on the status and trends in FBFSs and their drivers. The scope of the document will include:

  • Maps on the extent of FBFS in the delta.
  • Ecosystem services provided by FBFSs.
  • Risks/disbenefits of flooding
  • Emerging trends in FBFSs, their drivers and how these shape opportunities for promoting FBFSs in current development policy landscapes.
  • Opportunities to enhance these services and minimize risks, and contribute to SDG delivery, climate adaptation. other national goals and international obligations.

Some of the case studies will be implemented by IWMI, while others will be offered to university students as part of the project’s collaboration and capacity development strategy.

Capacity Building

Since maintaining the relevance of FBFSs in future policy development is likely to require coordination between academics, government, NGOs and farmers and other local stakeholders, the project will bring these groups together in a loose network of core actors with an interest in FBFSs. An in-country host institution with an interest in maintaining the network will be identified to provide continuity post project. This network also links with the other project components by way of identifying key knowledge gaps, providing resource persons to conduct training for farmers and other stakeholders, and knowledge communication, including to decision makers. Training also includes opportunities for individuals to participate in international training courses. The feasibility of establishing a course on FBFS at one national university will also be assessed.

Support to investment programs and policies

The knowledge generation and capacity development components will feed into one or more dialogs with policy makers and national and regional development agencies and farmers representatives to identify how FBFSs can be integrated into evolving national policies and regional development plans. Based on these discussions, the project will explore the feasibility of co-developing an investment proposal that can be taken up by policy makers and farmers and supported by development agencies.

Intended Outcomes

Status and trends in FBFSs and their drivers better understood, and forms a platform for action to improve these systems, and incorporate them in development policies and plans.

Updated knowledge of FBFSs from multiple dimensions that recognize and capture the systemic nature of the ecological-people and people-people relationships that shape FBFSs. This includes their contributions to current and future development objectives at household, community and national  scales, and understanding trends in current FBFSs and their drivers, leading to identification of threats and opportunities identified and used to shape capacity building and to engage at policy level. This knowledge is documented and made available for current and future generations of farmers, practitioners and policy makers, and supports an active research program endorsed by key stakeholders.

In-country and cross-regional networks established and operational for information and knowledge sharing on FBFSs and collective action to influence national policy to support these systems.

Capacity for collective action around common needs, concerns and opportunities built, that includes mechanisms for information and knowledge exchange between farmers, practitioners and key government agencies. This is supported by Databases of FBFS farmers and farmer organizations, practitioners and professionals active in FBFS, lodged in an in-country institutional home for continuity of project initiatives

The ecosystem services provided by FBFS systems are better appreciated by policy makers, with greater visibility of FBFS systems in overall and sectoral policies and development plans.

A case is developed and communicated to decision makers for incorporating FBFSs into development policy and plans based on how these systems can help deliver on national developmental and natural resource management goals, SDGs, climate adaptation and other international obligations. In-country networks and other capacities needed for continued policy dialog will be enhanced.

Project Leaders:

Sanjiv de Silva ( and  Robyn Johnston (


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