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Study Overview

Evaluation of Aquaculture in Bangladesh (EAB)
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Drawing on the insights from nutrition-sensitive agriculture and their long-standing work on fisheries and aquaculture in Bangladesh, WorldFish is implementing the 50-month project ‘Aquaculture: increasing income, diversifying diets and empowering women in Bangladesh’. To the best of our knowledge, EAB is a first of its kind, rigorous evaluation of a bundle of aquaculture interventions – implemented at scale - and aimed to increase smallholder productivity and incomes, improve the dietary diversity and nutritional outcomes of women and children and empower rural women in settings where tradition imposes non-trivial restrictions on women’s mobility and participation in economic activities. With respect to the latter, the project seeks to enhance women’s knowledge, support female entrepreneurship and increase women’s participation in the aquaculture value chain, especially in downstream marketing and trading nodes where female participation so far has been limited. An important and innovative feature of the WorldFish project is the split between two alternative and indirect models of delivery: a private sector model and a hybrid model with Local Service Providers (LSPs) playing a key role in both. In the latter, two large civil society organizations are tasked with the selection and training of LSPs. The EAB is a clustered randomized trial designed to evaluate the impacts of the WorldFish project. The evaluation is expected to contribute valuable insights about the relative merits of the two models of delivery, and which among the productivity, income, nutrition and empowerment objectives were affected – why or why not – and whether impacts were more pronounced for some subgroups than for others.

Registration Citation:

Barooah,B., Gaarder,M., Iversen,V., Martin, A., Wendt, A. Evaluation of Aquaculture in Bangladesh (EAB). RIDIE. January 2020

Agriculture and Rural Development
Health, Nutrition, and Population
Private Sector Development
Additional Keywords:
Aquaculture, RCT, nutrition, women empowerment, private sector
Secondary ID Number(s):
OPP1197415 (Opportunity ID assigned by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)

Principal Investigator(s)

Name of First PI:
Bidisha Barooah
Name of Second PI:
Vegard Iversen
University of Greenwich

Study Sponsor

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF)
Study Sponsor Location:
United States

Intervention Overview


Productivity-enhancing interventions: The project aims to enhance smallholder access to quality fish seed and breedstock, improved fish feed and pond inputs. LSPs will provide a conduit for smallholders to access quality inputs such as seed (tilapia, carp species) from certified fish hatcheries and nurseries, including those arising from WorldFish genetic improvement investments, and from private businesses supplying better-quality fish feed, fertilizer and management solutions.

Interventions to increase value of marketed fish: To strengthen farmers’ market linkages and increase the value of market sales, the project will support the creation and strengthening of small-scale farmer organizations, including women's groups, and develop farmers’ market knowledge, market strategies and business skills.

Enhancing quality, reach, efficiency and sustainability of extension services: In addition to input provision, local extension and input service providers will be the means for delivery of the farmer training and development work. WorldFish will prepare training materials and deliver ‘training of trainers’ sessions. In the decentralized, private sector model, WorldFish will select, train and mentor LSPs, while for the hybrid model, WorldFish will train the two contracted NGOs (TMSS and BRAC), who will in turn select and train their LSPs using guidelines and training materials from WorldFish.

Interventions to improve access to nutrient rich foods : The project will seek to improve the quality and quantity of fish consumption among smallholder farmers through the influence of social behavior change communication and nutritional messaging and the increased production and availability of nutrient rich fish.

Theory of Change:

The productivity enhancing interventions of improved supply and access to high quality fish seed, feed, credit and extension services are expected to lead to the adoption of improved fish and vegetable farming practices by men and women smallholder farmers.

Efforts to enhance quality, reach, efficiency and sustainability of extension services start with the two different implementation models of engagement with input suppliers and service providers, existing and new. These extension agents or LSPs (private sector and NGO) will be the subject of training and capacity building to improve their knowledge and competitiveness and effectiveness in providing access for smallholders to seed, feed and credit, contributing to higher productivity.

The pathway to increasing the total value of fish and fish products sold by smallholder farmers starts with increasing membership of women and men in existing and new farmers groups and developing their business and marketing skills and linking them to input and output markets, developing gender responsive market strategies to capture a larger share of market margins and increasing the total value of aquaculture products sold under sustainable market linkages, which together lead to an increase in the incomes of small holder farmers from the sale of fish and fish-based products.

Increasing access to nutrient rich foods will start with social behavior change communications (though LSPs and digital) to increase the knowledge of farming and non-farming households about the benefit of fish in their daily diet and to influence attitudes and practices.

Multiple Treatment Arms Evaluated?

Implementing Agency

Name of Organization:

Program Funder

Name of Organization:
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Intervention Timing

Intervention or Program Started at time of Registration?
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Evaluation Method

Evaluation Method Overview

Primary (or First) Evaluation Method:
Randomized control trial
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Other (not Listed) Method:

Method Details

Details of Evaluation Approach:

The EAB is a cluster-randomised controlled trial with one control and two treatment arms ) designed to evaluate an intervention bundle that aims to (a) raise smallholder income through improvements in aquaculture productivity, market sales and extension service delivery; (b) improve the nutritional status of women and children through greater dietary diversity and higher consumption of fish; (c) empower women by expanding female entrepreneurship and increasing their participation in different nodes of the aquaculture value chain, bolstering their self-efficacy and self-esteem and increasing their say in intrahousehold decision-making.

The evaluation design is a cluster-randomized trial (CRCT) with union as the unit of randomization. A union comprises of several villages. We chose to randomize at the union level since an LSP’s initial area of operation (and commercial outreach) is likely to be the area where the service provider resides and serving a customer base and market the service provider has easy and established access. A typical union in Rajshahi and Rangpur comprises of 15 to 20 villages that vary in size. Randomization at the union level reduces but does not eliminate the risk of control group contamination since there are many circumstances where an LSP’s commercial operations might transcend union boundaries. Our randomization procedure was therefore designed and implemented to ensure adequate geographical buffers between unions allocated to the three trial arms ((a) A Local Service Provider (LSP) arm or pure private sector model arm and (b) a Hybrid Model arm(HM) and (c) Control arm).

Outcomes (Endpoints):

The three overall research questions can be formulated as: what are the impacts of the aquaculture investments in the BMGF-funded WorldFish project, ‘Aquaculture: increasing income, diversifying diets, and empowering women in Bangladesh’ on:

  1. Smallholder aquaculture productivity; smallholder income with delineation of income from fish and fish-based products.
  2. Dietary intake; food security; nutritional outcomes of women and children.
  3. Women’s participation in different nodes of the aquaculture value chain; women’s empowerment.  

If there are impacts for 1), 2) or 3), what are the effect sizes? If some but not all of the expected impacts materialize, which failed and what may explain this failure?

Unit of Analysis:
Household and individual

Not testing hypotheses.

Unit of Intervention or Assignment:
The unit of randomization is the Union which comprises several villages.
Change History for Unit of Intervention or Assignment
Changed On Previous Value
06/17/2020 The union of randomization is the Union which comprises several villages.
Number of Clusters in Sample:
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Size of Treatment, Control, or Comparison Subsamples:
Control arm: 59 unions, Treatment arm 2 (Local Service Provider model) : 57 unions, Treatment arm 1 (Hybrid model): 61 unions

Outcomes Data

For the purpose of this study, several datasets will be used like: a. Household survey dataset b. Women empowerment survey dataset b. Nutrition survey dataset All these datasets will be generated from several rounds of primary data survey.
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Treatment Assignment Data

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Data Analysis

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Study Materials

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Registration Category

Registration Category:
Prospective, Category 1: Data for measuring impacts have not been collected

Completion Overview

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Preliminary Report:
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Data Availability

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Other Materials

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Description of Changes:

Study Stopped