Before travelling to India for the 5th DECCMA consortium meeting I was constantly checking the weather forecast for Kolkata. Being one of the DECCMA northern team members and never having been in India before the idea of 35oC and heavy rain made me feel a bit uncomfortable. However on our way from the airport to our 70 km away conference venue Ffort Raichak nobody was thinking about rain (there was none) nor temperature. All that counted was hoping that the “mariokart – style” bus driver would deliver us at the hotel in one piece (which he did).
Luckily we had the rest of the day to recover from the trip before the meeting took off in full speed. After half a day of meetings amongst our seven work packages each of them presented an up-date to the plenary. This was continued on the second day and followed by country up-dates.
Key to the country presentations were what we like to call the “wow!” findings – significant findings that contribute to the knowledge base on climate change, migration and adaptation.
Key emerging findings from Ghana relate to attitudes to migration in the context of environmental stress. Living in an area identified for its prevalence of out-migration, 43% of the respondents would consider migrating as a positive option in response to environmental change in the future. This perception is informed by having seen and heard of the cases of other migrants. Knowing this has important policy implications as Ghana considers how to support adaptation in the Volta delta.
Findings from the Indian Bengal Delta (IBD) also illuminate our understanding of migration processes. What is apparent there is that there are clear hotspots where people prefer to migrate. Again this has important policy implications in terms of knowing where population is likely to grow (or diminish) due to migration.
In the Mahanadi Delta findings counter the common belief that floods are bad and need to be stopped. People from various villages actually consider low and moderate intensity flood to be “Blessings in Disguise”. This is because floods bring prosperity to agricultural households. This occurs in three ways: agricultural production is improved firstly because of the improvements in soil fertility; and secondly because the floods eliminate weeds; and floods also bring fish which serve as an extra source of protein.
In Bangladesh, research on the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) delta highlighted their finding that thrust force is a critical cause of damage to infrastructure during storm surges. They are also investigating the duration of storm surge-driven salinity. These results have practical implications for adaptation, because local authorities can make well informed decisions when building or renewing infrastructure such as roads, houses and cyclone shelters in the affected regions.
Beyond the findings from each delta, it was great to see that GBM and IBD have joined forces to learn from each other. The entire team is really looking forward to their next joint steps and what emerges when the delta is considered as a biophysical system without the political boundaries.
Obviously a lot more exciting things were passed on between the researchers, and good plans were made for the coming months. But in such a large and geographically dispersed consortium, such meetings allow an invaluable opportunity for team building. Those of us that are new can put faces to the names previously only known through email addresses, and for those who knew each other already the opportunity to touch base again reinvigorates enthusiasm going forward.
By the way while being in Ffort Raichak there was hardly any rain but still it was so hot and humid that one was soaked form the inside when taking more than 10 steps outside an acclimatised room. However me personally I had the pleasure of experiencing very serious rain when staying on in Kolkata for a few days after the meeting.