DECCMA team discusses the forthcoming Bangladesh Delta Plan with the country’s Planning Commission

by Saiful Alam

The Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 (BDP) takes an adaptive management approach and the strategy is based on eight hotspots in the country, one of which is covered within the DECCMA study area. In a meeting with Professor Shamsul Alam, Member Secretary of the Global Economic Department in the Planning commission, the DECCMA Bangladesh team highlighted how project findings can inform the plan.

DECCMA Bangladesh PI Professor Munsur Rahman presents Professor Shamsul of the Planning Commission with the latest project publications

DECCMA’s research is helping to build deeper understanding of the cross sectoral adaptation that will be required in future. Dr Michele Leone, who oversees DECCMA for the International Development Research Centre, outlined the inventory of adaptations and findings of autonomous adaptations in the household survey would inform the implementation the Bangladesh Delta Plan.

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DECCMA Bangladesh Deputy PI, Dr Mashfiqus Salehin, added that the focus of DECCMA on migration has created significant insights who migrates, where, and with what consequences, and that the findings will be integrated into a model that will project changes in the delta in the context of climate change.

Referring to the linkages between adaptation and economic growth, Professor Alam said that the  Bangladesh Delta Plan makes significant progress compared to earlier water sector plans, by forging linkages between adaptation and economic development and growth in the country.  Professor Alam reiterated that for improved adaptation we need improved knowledge through multi-disciplinary research and innovations, and welcomed a Ganges Brahmaputra Meghna Delta Brief from the team, which summarises research findings to date.

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Should we unpack “community-based adaptation”?

by Natalie Suckall                           

Despite many examples of successful community-based adaptation, DECCMA’s extensive household survey  across four deltas found very little evidence of collective action. Rather than being activities in addition to those of the household, instead community-level effects are only observed when there is an aggregation of household-based activities. Does this mean that we need to better interrogate “community-based adaptation”?

Natalie Suckall presents at the Development Studies Association 2017 annual conference

Interest in this topic emerged at the recent Development Studies Association 2017 annual conference, held at the University of Bradford. Five DECCMA researchers led a panel on sustainable deltas. From varied presentations on observed adaptation, adaptation governance, migration and remittances, and migration and adaptation, a common theme emerged – that of scale. In particular, how does DECCMA understand events that take place at the community level, as opposed to the household or national level?

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One of the issues faced by DECCMA researchers was that no examples of collective action and very few examples of community based adaptation were found during our initial literature review of observable adaptation in the deltas.

Although some adaptation interventions were characterised as CBA, their impact was often felt at the household level where different households within the community were affected in different ways. For example, polders (land reclaimed from the sea) in Bangladesh are often described as a community adaptation as they aim to protect entire communities from flooding as well as providing land for farmers and fishers. Sometimes communities are involved in their construction.

Whilst communities may be involved in the construction of polders, this does not mean that the benefits are equally spread.  Within each polder there exist multiple competing interests between government, farmers, pond owners, and the landless.  Larger and better off households are more likely to be successful farmers and fishers, with profit and yield unlikely to be distributed to the landless poor. What this really means is that each household is affected by the polder in a different way – and thus to talk of it as a community-based adaptation hides these differences.

Our survey of 6000 households in the four study sites provided an opportunity to search for examples of collective action. We found that in all four locations less than a quarter of households were involved in a cooperative group.  The highest membership was in the Indian Mahandi at 25%, whilst it was 14% in Ghana, 8% in Bangladesh, and only 6% in the Indian Bengal delta.

In light of these findings, DECCMA’s integrated assessment model considers only national and household-level adaptations. Our survey evidence shows that community-based adaptation is far less important than household level, and is captured by aggregating household-level benefits. Since findings show that community-based adaptation can have variable effects, we should perhaps interrogate it before promoting as an appropriation adaptation to climate change.

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DECCMA and ASSAR present at UNU-WIDER Development Conference in Ghana

by Prosper Adiku, DECCMA Ghana RiU focal point

On October 6th, Kwasi Appeaning-Addo participated at the UNU-WIDER Development Conference held in Accra.

The UNU-WIDER Conference, held under the theme ‘Migration and mobility- new frontiers for research and policy’ was jointly organised by the UNU-WIDER and the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA). The 2-day conference comprised plenary, parallel sessions with contributed papers, and a poster session. The conference explored the relationships between migration, mobility, and development, with a focus on South-South movements and the African region. It aimed to bring together new and innovative research from economics and other disciplines that can inform broader policy-relevant debate and action.

UNU WIDER conference

Profs. Chris Gordon (2nd L) and Appeaning-Addo (2nd R) at the Environment and Natural Resources parallel session of the Conference (Photograph credit: Wendy Boakye)

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Presenting on DECCMA’s findings on migration and mobility across deltas, Professor Appeaning-Addo was part of the “Environment and Natural Resources” parallel session chaired by Linguère Mously Mbaye. The Collaborative Adaptation Research in Africa and Asia programme was also represented by Professor Chris Gordon of Adaptation at Scale in Arid and Semi-arid land (ASSAR). Drawing together their findings on deltas and semi-arid lands in Ghana, DECCMA and ASSAR jointly developed a research brief ‘Migration: An Opportunity or Threat to Adaptation?’ which was available at the conference.

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DECCMA participates in webinar on gender roles in water scarcity-induced migration

by Katharine Vincent

Creating evidence to contribute to policy support for gender-sensitive adaptation in deltas requires significant sex-disaggregated data and investigation of gender implications of migration. DECCMA has, so far, surveyed 6000 households across four deltas in migrant-sending areas, and is in the process of surveying a further 6000 households in migrant-receiving areas.

Where possible in the survey, the household head and an adult of the other sex have been separately surveyed, giving rise to a significant data set. This illuminates gender differences in the causes, patterns and consequences of migration, and was highlighted by DECCMA during a webinar on “Gender roles in water scarcity-induced migration.”

The webinar took place as part of the GEF International Waters: LEARN project (gender sub-component), undertaken by UNESCO’s World Water Assessment Programme and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The aim of this project is to raise awareness of the importance of gender mainstreaming and how to do it in international waters project. They recently published a report on “Migration and its interdependencies with water scarcity, gender and youth“.

Bringing together research to inform disaster risk reduction in Bangladesh

by Saiful Alam, DECCMA Bangladesh RiU focal point, BUET

Ensuring university research feeds into policy and practice is key to reducing disaster risk reduction. DECCMA is building evidence on how climate change is affecting deltas, how people are adapting to these changes, and the role of migration.

In Bangladesh the Institute for Water and Flood Management (IWFM) at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology is participating in a platform to bring together research and knowledge generated by universities to strengthen capacity for improved water management and disaster risk reduction. This sits under the project “Research on Disaster Prevention / Mitigation measures against Flood and Storm Surges in Bangladesh” (SATREPS).

DECCMA BD workshop

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As part of its efforts to disseminate research findings, IWFM organized a University Networking workshop in August 2017 to present five training modules developed under the SATREPS project with the aim of building capacity at the field level. The five modules discussed topics relating to flood management and disaster risk reduction:

  1. Evolution of flood management policy and planning
  2. Evaluating resilience against flood disaster
  3. Learning from experience of NGOs in disaster management
  4. Review of measures for river flood management in Bangladesh
  5. Flash flood risk management using information and communication technologies in Bangladesh

The workshop was attended by researchers from 19 universities in Bangladesh and further afield. DECCMA Bangladesh PI, Prof. Munsur Rahman, outlined findings from DECCMA. He also called for joint action-oriented research with emphasis on governance to reduce disaster risk among vulnerable delta populations.

Following from this successful workshop, another will be planned to further disseminate DECCMA research findings on vulnerability hotspots and adaptation. This will likely take place at Potuakahi University of Science and Technology, and further details will be available on the DECCMA website when a date has been finalised.

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