A new photostory reflects on the opportunity by students from the University of Southampton to work with colleagues from Jadavpur University to undertake fieldwork for their dissertations in the Indian Bengal delta.
To mark the release of the IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5ºC, the University of Southampton hosted a panel discussion focusing on the coastal and marine implications and relevance for the Paris Agreement. Among the panelists were DECCMA Principle Investigator Professor Robert Nicholls and researcher Dr Sally Brown, who led the recent paper in the journal Regional Environmental Change that outlines the implications of sea level rise under 1.5ºC, 2ºC and 3ºC in deltas, and was a lead author on the IPCC special report. A video recording of the panel discussion is now available.
To mark the release of the IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5ºC, the University of Southampton is today hosting a panel discussion focusing on the coastal and marine implications and relevance for the Paris Agreement. Among the panelists will be DECCMA Principle Investigator Professor Robert Nicholls and researcher Dr Sally Brown, who led the recent paper in the journal Regional Environmental Change that outlines the implications of sea level rise under 1.5ºC, 2ºC and 3ºC in deltas, and was a lead author on the IPCC special report. A summary of the discussion will be posted here shortly after the event.
by Prosper Adiku and Gertrude Owusu
During the monitoring and evaluation of the DECCMA Ghana project, it came to light that the Planning Officer for the Keta Municipal Assembly has been making efforts to incorporate some of the learnings from the DECCMA project engagements. This feature article highlights his involvement in the DECCMA project and how useful the learnings from the project have been to him as a Municipal Planning Officer of the Keta Municipal Assembly.
The DECCMA project through the Ghana research team has engaged with stakeholders at the national and district levels. Notable among these stakeholders has been the engagement with the Municipal Planning Officer for one of the Ghana project districts, Mr John Ntibrey.
Mr Ntibrey has twelve years of experience as a Senior Development Planning Officer and has been working in the Keta Municipal Assembly for the past three years. His involvement with the DECCMA project started in late 2016, having participated in a stakeholder engagement workshop at Sogakope where interim project findings were presented. Subsequently, he took part in the National Expert Advisory Group (NEAG) meeting in 2017 as well as the district stakeholders validation workshop in January 2018. He also participated in the DECCMA-led field visit to the Keta Municipality during an FAO workshop in December 2017.
These engagements have influenced Mr Ntibrey personally and contributed to his personal capacity and work. According to him, the ‘engagement was great and it has enlightened my understanding into the delta management and it attendant challenges’. He indicated that the key impact areas resulting from the DECCMA engagements include; improvement in planning skills (through the incorporation of vulnerability issues), understanding of migration in the delta, an improved understanding of the impact of climate change on social and economic life, and adaptation issues. As a development planner, the engagements have further enhanced his understanding of the conditions that promote migration and its outcomes as well as the governance mechanisms that promote or hinder migration of men and women in deltas.
On the overall impact of the project as a result of the various engagements, Mr Ntibrey noted ‘‘…the project in general has enlightened a planner on how the lives within the Volta delta have been affected in terms of their vulnerability, migration issues and the adaptability. It’s been amazing how the various work packages have dealt with the various expertise. It has also built our desire to take the life of the people living in the various deltas seriously’’.
Mr Ntibrey also made some recommendations for future engagement of policy-makers and practitioners in research projects. These included deeper involvement of stakeholders in the collection and analysis of project data and visits to other project partner countries to promote the sharing of first-hand knowledge and information on delta management. He further called for the extension of the DECCMA project in Ghana to ensure wider dissemination of the research.
by Katharine Vincent
Last week I was privileged to attend the 5th Climate Change Adaptation Policy and Science conference, which also served as the final workshop for DECCMA’s sister project within the CARIAA programme-Himalayan Adaptation, Water and Resilience (HI-AWARE). Whilst DECCMA is investigating climate change and adaptation in deltas, the biophysical “hotspot” in which HI- AWARE focuses is glacier and snowpack-dependent river basins, which include the Indus, Upper Ganga, Gandaki and Teesta river basins in Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
The conference was split into 2 days – the first had the theme “gendered vulnerability”, and the second was a launch of HI-AWARE final products.
On the first day community members had been invited from the project pilot sites across the four countries. It was very inspiring to hear how the pilot adaptations are actively reducing people’s vulnerability to climate change: through climate-smart agriculture in Pakistan, eco-san toilets in India, and flood-resistant houses in Bangladesh. The gentleman from Bangladesh reported that, whilst he was with us, neighbours were sheltering in his home as the Teesta had flooded and his was one of the few houses that had not been submerged.
HI-AWARE’s findings on gendered vulnerability were presented from case studies upstream, midstream and downstream in each basin. New “genderscapes” are being produced, particularly as a result of migration. Whilst individual women may be empowered with new decision-making capacity when their husbands leave, the institutions have not caught up with these evolving gender norms and thus can still act to impede gender-equitable access to services and facilities. Building on our CARIAA-wide synthesis work on gender-related findings, I participated (alongside colleagues from PRISE and ASSAR) in a panel discussion highlighting results of our qualitative comparative analysis of 25 cases, and the predominant conditions that can support or dampen women’s agency.
On the second day, the HI-AWARE team launched 15 briefing papers describing key findings relating to the projected magnitude of climate change in mountains, heat stress, water availability (for agriculture and urban use), flooding and critical climate moments (in adaptation pathways). This was followed by presentations on their approach to research into use – or research impact – activities, knowledge management/communications, and M&E.
In addition to the content findings, one of my favourite parts of the conference was when HI-AWARE-supported postgraduate students (“fellows”) and early career researchers, communicators and practitioners talked about their journeys as part of the project, and how it has affected their career paths. The confidence and skills gained by these young men and women was obvious, and their enthusiasm and commitment inspiring. Almost all of them also spoke about their improved knowledge and understanding of gender and the importance of communicating research findings for impact. Both of these elements are things we have also prioritised in DECCMA and are, I believe, essential for transdisciplinary research that is effective in enabling socially-equitable adaptation to climate change.
by Martin Watts
Undertaking Masters research in the delta
Crop farming provides a livelihood to millions living on or below the poverty line in the Indian Bengal delta (IBD). Crop farmers are especially vulnerable to adverse effects stemming from environmental change, as the availability and quality of natural resources for production is changing. Deltaic crop farmers have meagre adaptive capacities owing to their geographical and economic marginalisation, and thus cannot always adapt sufficiently. To understand what influences crop farmers’ processes of adaptation, and to build on my initial analysis of the DECCMA household survey, in June I visited the villages of Dulki and Sonagar to undertake interviews with crop farmers.
Three key emerging findings
Poor coordination undermines some adaptation strategies
While several government and NGO run agricultural extension services were encouraging organic farming as a sustainable approach to enable cultivation in increasingly saline soils, a fundamental constraint is that market actors did not distribute it to village shops. Instead, chemical products, which farmers recognised had adverse environmental implications, were intensely advertised and sold. This indicates a lack of coordination in the area’s governance network, which had ramifications on farmers’ and government’s goals to operationalise organic agriculture.
Social networks are essential for equitable transmission of information required to enable adaptation through changed practices
Farmer-to-farmer social actions were found to increase the adoption of crop management strategies, such as crop diversification. This was because even the most uneducated farmers understood information communicated practically, contrasting to the approach extension services undertook that encompassed more theoretical teaching. This particularly hindered the adoption of climate-tolerant crops, meaning that most farming systems exhibited low climate resilience.
Access to financial capital enables access to adaptation options
On a positive note, banks loan schemes specific to farmers were enabling the uptake of irrigation systems and new crop varieties due to greater financial capacity. The latter strategy was highly important, given that many farmers cultivated mono-crop. This permitting them to spread out risks of production loss that was perceived to result from an increasingly unpredictable climate.
Reflections on my first visit to the delta
For me, the field visit in general was extremely insightful. Having spent time previously analysing survey variables, adaptation strategies and quantitative associations, actually viewing the strategies and hearing farmers’ accounts was quite stimulating. As most social science researchers experience, there were challenges relating to the weather, especially the humidity, and interviewee participation. Regarding the latter, it was not simple to keep participants discussing the research agenda, since I was perceived by some farmers to be from foreign aid organisations. However, this usefully enabled farmers to elaborate on the current institutional context which can restrict the suite of adaption options available to them. Coming away from the fieldwork with 16 interviews completed, not only did I gain rich experiential data, but the survey became much more comprehensible and aided further quantitative analysis.
DECCMA’s latest story of change outlines a policy change in Ghana’s Coastal Development Authority Bill 2017. Based on submissions from DECCMA, made by the chair of DECCMA Ghana’s National Expert Advisory Group, Honourable Clement Humado on 20th October 2017, the Bill had a clause added, that the governing body of the authority would have “two persons with relevant expertise nominated by the President at least one of whom is a woman” (Section 4.1(i)). Prior to this submission, there was no mention in the draft Bill of the need for coastal development expert advisory input. DECCMA’s contribution here has thus been to create a tighter link between science and decision-making, thereby supporting evidence-informed policy in Ghana. More information on how this change came about can be found in our latest story of change.
by Prosper Adiku
DECCMA Ghana organised a panel session to share their project findings with participants during the 6th Climate Change and Population Conference on Africa (CCPOP2018) held from 23rd to 25th July 2018.
The session, under the theme population-climate nexus, was entitled “The Volta Delta: A multidisciplinary perspective on climate change impacts”. Professor Kwasi Appeaning Addo, Co-PI of DECCMA Ghana, provided and overview of project findings. The panel comprised the lead research scientists of the DECCMA work packages. It was moderated by Mr Winfred Nelson of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) and chaired by Honourable Dr Beatrice Adiku-Heloo, Member of Parliament for Hohoe Constituency and a member of the Appointment Committee of Parliament.
Findings shared related to climate change impacts in the Volta Delta, including: policy responsiveness and household adaptation strategies to climate change impact; biophysical and socio-economic factors affecting livestock-based livelihoods; determinants of immobility in hazard-prone communities and economic and livelihood impacts of climate change vulnerabilities. Particular points that arose in the discussion included what the future will look like and recommendations on how to address these challenges.
On the issue of policies promoting or hindering migration, the governance analysis of DECCMA reveals that no explicit policy exists that hinders movement, however, other factors (economic and family ties) remain critical. It also emerged that change in governments do not promote policy implementation as prioritisation of issues tend to hinder the implementation of some policies.
Also featured on the panel was Professor Christopher Gordon, the ASSAR Ghana project lead, who shared highlights of ASSAR research findings noting migration as a key adaptation option with the issues of food security, and disconnect between opportunities at district and national level, being the major problems for adaptation.
The CCPOP is an annual Conference organised by the Regional Institute of Population Studies (RIPS) at the University of Ghana aimed at promoting lessons on the best scientific practices with a focus on potential development impacts on Africa. This year’s conference was under the theme “The Future We Do Not Want” and focused on various risk related themes such as the population–climate nexus, population health and climate change, coastal zones and green growth, cities and climate change, adaptation and mitigation among others.
by Sumana Banerjee, Tuhin Ghosh and Shruti Thakur
Environmental change in the Indian Bengal delta is making traditional livelihoods, such as agriculture fishing, increasingly challenging. Other economic activities, such as going to the forest to collect crabs and honey, puts people at risk of tiger attacks. In a new photo story, Sumana Banerjee, Tuhin Ghosh and Shruti Thakur elaborate how beekeeping and crab fattening are providing alternative livelihood opportunities.