Performance Evaluation of USAID ECOFISH


NII Principal Ian Dutton recently led a comprehensive independent mid-term performance evaluation of the USAID-funded ECOFISH-Bangladesh activity. ECOFISH is a $15 million partnership with the Government of Bangladesh (GOB) and WorldFish with two main goals: First, ECOFISH seeks to enhance ecosystem resilience through the establishment of effective co-management in hilsa shad (Tenualosa ilisha) fish sanctuaries in the Meghna River ecosystem.

Additionally, ECOFISH seeks to increase community resilience by strengthening the savings, livelihoods, and coping strategies of marginalized and extremely poor fisher folk, particularly women. In this way, it minimizes the risk from climate-affected shocks and stresses faced by these vulnerable populations. ECOFISH-Bangladesh commenced on June 1, 2014, and will end on May 30, 2019.


The evaluation team concluded that while the performance of some strategies under ECOFISH has been variable over the first three years, ECOFISH is on track to achieving activity goals. A copy of the full report and recommendations for improvement is available on the USAID Development Experience Clearinghouse (DEC).


Fishing boats

Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Roughly the size of Illinois, the current population of 162 million is expected to increase to 220 million by 2050, threatening to outpace food production. Over 70 percent of the population lives in rural areas and 87 percent of rural households rely on agriculture for at least part of their income.

Agriculture is a key driver of economic growth in Bangladesh, contributing almost 17 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Bangladesh is also a major fish-producing nation. According to Mohammed et al. (2016), fish production contributed 4.4 percent of the country’s national GDP, 2.5 percent of foreign exchange earnings, 11 percent of employment, and 60 percent of all consumed animal protein.

Women’s Savings Group class

Project Goals

The primary goals of the midterm performance evaluation were to

 1. Provide evidence so the United States Agency for International Development/Bangladesh can determine whether the ECOFISH activity has achieved its desired results to date

2. Inform what course corrections, if any, are needed in the time remaining of implementation

3. Determine how effectively this activity has incorporated gender in the interventions

4. Recommend to USAID key strategic and programmatic options for future engagement

The evaluation team comprised Dr. Dutton, Socio-economist Mr. Humayun Kabir and Fisheries expert Dr. Md. Shahadat Hossein and used a mixed-methods approach to gather both qualitative and quantitative data from primary and secondary sources, with specific attention to gender sensitivity and sex-disaggregated data. The team reviewed relevant documents and data provided by USAID and ECOFISH as well as a significant body of published information on hilsa fisheries and ecosystem-based approaches to fisheries management.

Inspecting Coastal Erosion

During three weeks of fieldwork in Dhaka and throughout the Meghna delta region, the team conducted Key Informant Interviews/Information Exchange Meetings with 93 individuals, and 12 Focus Group Discussion meetings with 108 individuals. Team members also conducted informal interviews and field observations during visits to 12 ECOFISH villages and administered mini-surveys of 546 residents of both ECOFISH and non-ECOFISH villages. An additional mini-survey was also undertaken with 10 scientists involved in hilsa research.

The evaluation team concluded that while the performance of some strategies under ECOFISH has been variable over the first three years, ECOFISH is on track to achieving activity goals. A copy of the full report and recommendations for improvement is available on the USAID Development Experience Clearinghouse (DEC).