Drones over the delta: Monitoring coastal protection structures along the shoreline of Ghana’s Volta delta using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)

Coastal erosion in the Keta district of the Ghana’s Volta delta is causing increasing problems by destroying property and infrastructure and displacing people. With erosion rates of up to 8 metres per year, proactive efforts are required to manage these impacts. Within the Keta Sea Defence Project (KSDP) various erosion control measures have been employed. These include hard engineering, such as groynes and revetments, and soft engineering, such as beach nourishment.

Since its establishment in 2004, there has been no sustainable scheme in place to monitor the effectiveness of the coastal defence structures within the Keta Sea Defence Project.
Traditional methods of monitoring the rate of coastal erosion include Differential Global Positioning Systems (DGPS), aerial photographs and satellite imagery – but these are expensive to buy, require specialist training to use, and can be time consuming. Although some satellite images are freely available, their coarse resolution (30m x 30m) mean that that are unsuitable for monitoring the KSDP.

Kwasi Appeaning Addo and his team in the Department of Marine and Fisheries Sciences at the University of Ghana and the Centre for Tropical Marine Ecology at the University of Bremen, Germany are pioneering a new mechanism to monitor the rate of coastal erosion. Unnamed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or “drones” are relatively inexpensive to buy (less than US$1000) and easy to use (it takes only a day to train research assistants to fly the drone). In addition they allow flexibility in the monitoring process – the researchers determine the flight path and the altitude at which the drones fly, which results in much more relevant and reliable data. Being able to choose the height at which the drones fly means that clouds are not a problem as they can be in both aerial photographs and satellite imagery.

Dr Appeaning Addo and his team have been undertaking bi-monthly repeated surveys were undertaken using a drone known as DJI Phantom Series. They first established ground control points using a high precision differential GPS system in order to effectively guide the drone. The survey produce in high resolution aerial photographs which are then analysed and used to create 3D models of the earth’s surface. The models from each drone monitoring mission are then overlaid with the previous ones. In comparing them, it is possible to identify any changes over time and also the extent of change allows calculation of the rate at which the change was occurring. Since the drones produce photographs, it is possible to use them to investigate of what is causing the changes and whether they are permanent or cyclical, for example. The preliminary results from two months (May and July 2015) of drone-led field surveys showed that there was significant lateral and topographic changes in the beach system.

As drones provide more reliable data for scientists to analyse, they will be able to have a greater understanding of the nature and rate of coastal erosion in the Volta Delta shoreline. This provides a reference point to assess the effectiveness of the KSDP. It also provides important information for the government of Ghana to ensure that their attempts to address coastal erosion are well targeted and effective.

Drone footage of community flooding and coastal erosion in the Volta delta

On February 3rd 2016, the Daily Graphic, the main newspaper in Ghana, reported of destruction being caused by ocean waves in a number of communities within the Volta Delta, including Fuveme. In response to the news, the DECMMA Ghana team set out to verify the situation on 6th February 2016 and carried out a drone survey using DJI Phantom 3 Professional drone.

The video shows strong wave activities during high tide resulting in overtopping of the beach and flooding of the Fuveme community. Buildings were destroyed during the flooding, which rendered people homeless. Natural fish landing sites were also eroded. This has affected fishing business, which is the main source of livelihood in the community and resulted in migration from the community.

Qualitative research training in India

qualitative research training

Qualitative research training

On Friday February 26, 2016, School of Oceanographic Studies, Jadavpur University (JU) organised a One Day Workshop on Introduction to Qualitative Research which was facilitated by Dr Colette Mortreux of University of Exeter.

The workshop had 26 participants out of which 16 were female participants. Most of the participants were young researchers who are either pursuing MPhil or PhD degrees from schools and departments of JU. There was also representation from Calcutta University and NGOs like WWF and DRCSC Kolkata.

Colette is a human geographer specialising in qualitative research methods and during her visit to India as a part of the DECCMA consortium to conduct resettlement field visit and interviews, she took time out to conduct this workshop. When multi-country projects function well, such effective exchanges between countries become possible thereby opening portals for knowledge sharing.

The workshop provided an introduction to Qualitative Research based on what it is, its strengths and weaknesses, its theoretical foundations, comparison with quantitative research. The workshop was evenly punctuated with activities which encouraged interactions among the group. The participants felt the interactions helped them to learn better. Adequate stress was laid on choosing the right method of for research design – deciding on the sample size and strategy, which method is best suited for what purpose. This gave ample clarity for the young researchers on the differences between when to use a focus group discussion and when to go for in-depth interviews. The issue of Ethics was discussed as involvement of human participants in research needs informed consent. Procedures for written/oral consent were discussed and ethical considerations during interviews were also laid stress upon.

Role of interviewer, practical tips for interviewing, tactfully combating challenges during the interviews and focus groups, how to make the respondents feel comfortable and ideas for group activities were shared.

Following the in-depth guidance on data collection, the workshop then steered towards the analysis of data and use of software to aid the analysis.

Lastly, the communication of findings was discussed and the workshop was summarised.
As a concluding activity, DECCMA brochures were distributed among the participants and a small talk was given on DECCMA’s research areas and objectives.

The workshop was closed by distributing certificates to all the participants and gratitude was extended to Dr Mortreux for conducting such a fruitful workshop.

A Tale of two Cities

2015 saw an acceleration of DECCMA with extensive work on the development of Household Surveys across four study deltas in India, Bangladesh and Ghana, looking at the component role climatic change might play in migration and adaptation. This work has been substantially supported by the outcomes of a sister project to DECCMA in the form of ESPA Deltas. Both of these projects were represented at the AGU December 2015 in San Francisco at a specific session relating to Delta research, called Sustainable Deltas: Multidisciplinary Analyses of Complex Systems II, Global Environmental Change (Primary Convener Irina Overeem CSDMS/INSTAAR on behalf of Belmont Deltas), with cross-referencing between the talks demonstrating a continuity of learning and development. The following were presented:

Hutton C.W., & Nicholls, R.J. & Allan, A. (2015), Migration in Vulnerable Deltas: A Research Strategy. AGU, 2015, San Francisco, 14-18th December

Nicholls, et. al. (Hutton, C.W) (2015). Ecosystem services and livelihoods in deltaic environments (Invited). AGU 2015, San Francisco, 14-18th December

Lazar, A. et. al. (Hutton, C.W) (2015). An integrated framework to assess plausible future livelihood and poverty changes in deltas: an application to coastal Bangladesh. AGU 2015, San Francisco, 14-18th December

Payo Garcia, A. & Hutton, C.W. (2015). Assessing the time scale response of Health, Livelihoods, Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation in Populous Deltas. AAG, Chicago 2015

The presentations within the session were wide ranging and thought provoking with examples of papers and posters from highly developed contexts to regions of the developing world under extraordinary stress from environmental degradation and climatic changes. One common thematic approach that might be drawn from the session was the diversity and complexity of the social interaction across these landscape scale features with competing requirements for industry and food production as well as the socio-economic and cultural needs of the people who occupy the lands including the complex drivers of migration and urbanisation. The meeting was followed by a meal in down town San Francisco where, Profs Overeem and Nicholls lead a discussion on possible collaborative efforts that have continued from this meeting.

Drawing on a specific component of this discussion, namely that of land and water and the relation to food security, The DECCMA project was also presented as a case study at the Land and Water Days, November 2015 in Rome where a conference was jointly convened by FAO, IFAD and WFP as part of efforts aimed at reaching effective and lasting impacts for land and water actions on the ground. The event is presented as an opportunity to review policies, technologies and approaches to secure sustained improvements in support to activities on the ground; and foster exchanges of experience between countries and regions. The University of Southampton presented a detailed study of DECCMA in the “Land and Water assessment for identifying vulnerabilities and sustaining rural livelihoods” session entitled; Deltas, Vulnerability & Climate Change: Migration & Adaptation: Assessing vulnerability of populations to land and water shocks, with elements of the lessons learned in ESPA Deltas as an example of how remote sensing can be used to extract both social and biophysical data of relevance to planning in food security and livelihoods. The talk was well received and as well as ongoing established links with FAO (specifically John Latham NRL) has spawned some discussions and potential collaboration with WFP.

Migration: A complex phenomena which defies simplification

Climate change, poverty and the nexus of socio-environmental drivers that drive or influence migration has emerged as a challenging issue to a wide group of researchers, policy makers and practitioners. Recognised in Paris and the Sustainable Development Goals alike (SDG 10, which sets out a target for “facilitating orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies) the issue has made it in where it had not in the MDGs 15 years earlier. However, when we drill deeper into these phenomena it becomes clear that unlike say poverty, social injustice or the disease burden, migration describes a social phenomenon to which it is disputed as to whether it poses a threat or an opportunity to society, or as seems more likely, sits as some complex connective tissue between the two.

What is responsible migration and who is the beneficiary? Within the experience of the DECCMA project, the universal tacit response has been that Migration is generally a bad thing, a port of last call, a sign of decline. However, discussions with communities and local policy makers nuance this picture and mark the requirement for a far more subtle understanding of this multi-stranded process. Whilst It is clear this is a complex process with many different sub-phenomena occurring we perhaps need to ask ourselves whether it might be helpful to explicitly differentiate between types of migration in our common lexicon (as is common in the literature). Could we use the word commute for shorter periods of activity with migration reserved for more extensive periods only? Or introduce a typology of migration with type 1, 2 and 3 where type 1 represents weekly migration and type 3 permanent. The reason this might be suggested is that migration is sometimes handled, particularly by decision makers, as a single phenomenon requiring a single policy response.

Perhaps even more pressing is the need to recognise that there really is no consensus on, if and when different types of migration might be a benefit and to whom. It seems reasonable to say that as a component of livelihood diversification it provides input to the overall resilience of a society, allowing communities to respond to shocks and stresses by offering an alternative income (the classic example being the temporary rickshaw puller dispatched by a family to supplement income), but what of more permanent migratory behaviour? On the one hand this can pick at the fabric of a community with the generation of women headed households where the burden of work and family care falls to women alone and migrators being isolated from family and community. However, it is also apparent that such migratory behaviour underpins elements of developing and emerging economies. Indeed, we might ask ourselves where the West would be if migration to industrial centres had not occurred?

In a development context we often conflate economic growth with a decline in poverty (although the relationship is in fact more complex) but are we then, de facto, really saying cheap labour from the rural areas is often the fuel of competitive industry. A thought inducing example of this that has been recognised in the ESPA Deltas project (www.espadeltas.net) is that salinity ingress to the delta is associated with shrimp production. Plausibly this might be seen as a reasonable adaptation to a climate related phenomena, however the process induces large-scale loss of livelihood which can be associated with migration. This in turn generates cheap labour forces with supressed wages in urban environments. In both cases, GDP will be benefited but the distribution of that wealth is of grave concern. Further to this, it is possible to see that policy perspectives in this area can also be rather simplistic with economic investments designed to retain people in their region of origin potentially mobilising people to move. It is perfectly plausible to see investment in agriculture providing better incomes, which in turn allow for migration, which is a costly business in itself. These subtleties became substantial phenomena when considered across the populations for which migration is a potential option. As such we need to work towards an understanding of this phenomena, before establishing policy strategies.

DECCMA Poster Competition Winner – Shouvik Das

poster competition winner

Winning poster

The winner of the PhD Category of the Poster Competition at the DECCMA 4th Consortium Workshop was Shouvik Das’ (Jadavpur University, India) poster ‘The implication of applying IPCC AR4 & AR5 framework for Vulnerability and Risk assessment in relation to Climate Change in the Indian Bengal Delta’.

The term ‘Vulnerability’ is used by the disaster risk reduction (DRR) community to describe the interaction of the physical and societal factors that contribute to disaster risk. This is closer to the IPCC AR4’s conceptual framework of vulnerability to climate change. The AR5 introduces a new approach and terminology which moves closer to the disaster risk concept, thus differing from the current understanding of vulnerability as expressed in the IPCC AR4. In this comparative study, different indicators based on AR4 and AR5 frameworks have been used to assess vulnerability (AR4) and risk (AR5) in the 51 Community Development Blocks of Indian Bengal Delta. The high score of ‘risk’ obtained through AR5 approach appears to be governed more by the climate induced hazards (like flood/cyclones). The external stressors of vulnerability (as conceptualized in AR4) comprise hazards as well as other climate variability as ‘potential hazard’. It also has a problem of neutralizing the impact of one specific hazard by the adaptive capacity to another potential hazard. The final results however show some disparity in scores in assessing ‘vulnerable’ zones and ‘risk’ zones. Sandeshkhali-II is assessed as the most vulnerable block (AR4) whereas Gosaba is found to be exposed to high risk (AR5) although both the blocks are spatially contiguous and geographically similar. The present study thus emphasizes efficacy of AR5 framework in assessing hazard specific risk zone which will be more suitable to correlate with impacts such as human migration or in designing appropriate hazard specific adaptation options.

Interview with the winner:
1. Why did you choose the topic for the poster?
Climate change acts as a ‘threat multiplier’ with a growing population and a deteriorating natural resource base in the deltaic environments. In recent years, Vulnerability or Risk Assessments are being used to identify climate change impact hotspots and to provide input for adaptation and development planning at different levels. Vulnerability or Risk Assessments being one of the thrust area of DECCMA, this poster could be useful, significant and interesting for all relevant ongoing research activities in the sphere of Disaster Management or Climate Change Adaptation. This study might also be helpful to compare the efficacies of IPCC AR 4 and AR 5 framework to apply in a particular research problem.

2. What data sources have you used for the analysis?
In Vulnerability or Risk Assessment, we use an integration of classified indicators to assess the interaction of human beings with physical and social surroundings at the Sub-District level (Community Development Blocks for India). Different bio-physical and socio-economic indicators have been used to conduct the study. The climate-related stress or extremes events like Flood Frequency (National Remote Sensing Centre, 2004-2014), Cyclone Intensity (Indian Meteorological Department, 1992-2009), Coastal Erosion (Landsat TM images, 2001 & 2011), Salinization (National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning) have been considered to determine Hazard (AR 5) and Exposure (AR 4) under different frameworks. The datasets of District Census Handbook (DCHB) and District Statistical Handbook (DSHB) of 2011 have been used to estimate Sensitivity and Adaptive Capacity (IPCC Contributing Factors) with their catalytic influences in the system.

3. What’s the significance of your conclusion?
Applying the AR 4 and AR 5 concept and framework on the same data set, two different blocks have been identified to be most vulnerable or exposed to highest risk. However, both the blocks are spatially contiguous and geographically similar. The results have been validated through ground truth survey and stakeholder engagements. It proves the efficacy of AR5 over the AR 4 framework. Moreover, the hazard specific risk assessment (AR 5) can be more appropriate and suitable method to correlate with impacts such as human migration, and thus appear to be more appropriate for designing hazard specific adaptation options.

Download the poster here: http://www.geodata.soton.ac.uk/deccma/uploads_working_papers/Das_S_In_The_implication_of_applying_IPCC_AR4_+_AR5_framwork_for_vulnerability_to_CC_in_the_Indian_Bengal_Delta,_India_20160125_035018.pdf

Pre-test of sending area household survey at Jhapa Village of Satkhira, Bangladesh

Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) carried out a pre-test survey on the DECCMA Sending Area Household Survey on 8-12 December, 2015 at Jhapa village of Shyamnagar, Satkhira, Bangladesh. A team of 9 researchers traveled to Satkhira, Bangladesh to conduct the survey.

The objectives of the pre-test were:

  1. To assess the effectiveness of the questionnaire in collecting information on migration and adaptation.
  2. To explore different issues related to sending survey questionnaire e.g., length of the interview, flow of logic, wording of the questionnaire, logistics issues etc.
  3. To produce a report on the questionnaire to assist northern team to modify the final questionnaire for sending household survey.

pretest of sending area household survey

Survey setting

A total of twelve households were interviewed during the pre-test survey. Among the households, 9 were migrant households and 3 were non-migrant households. From each household, the team interviewed two persons – one with the household head and another adult of opposite sex (except one household where the household head was migrant and no other adult family members were available). Altogether, the team interviewed 23 people(12 female and 11 male).

After the survey, a detailed report on the questionnaire was prepared and sent to the DECCMA Northern team to assist them to produce the final questionnaire. The report contained the issues encountered by field facilitators during the interviews. Among the issues, personality related questions, adaptation related questions and length of the survey were of major concerns. The average time of the survey varied from two and half hours to three hours. The report compiled every single comment made by the field facilitators to help the Northern team to enlighten the actual scenario of the pre-test.

The DECCMA Household Survey is scheduled to be rolled out to 1500 households within the delta study site in February and March 2016.

Findings from the District Level Stakeholders Workshop in Ramgoti, Lakshmipur, Bangladesh

district level stakeholder workshop

District level stakeholder workshop

DECCMA Bangladesh team organized 2nd District Level workshop at Ramgoti Upazila of Lakshmipur District on November 18, 2015. The objectives of the workshop were:

i. To explore migration, adaptation and governance issues of Ramgoti Upazila related to climate change.
ii. To compare the findings with the 1st District Level Workshop held at Khulna on August 31, 2015
iii. To sensitize different upazila/local level stakeholders about the DECCMA project

Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) and Bangladesh University of Engineering Technology (BUET) jointly organized the workshop with the help of the local Upazila Nirbahi Office (UNO). There were 104 participants (69% Male and 31% Female) from different communities, government organizations, NGOs and media.

To conduct the group discussion, the participants were divided into five different groups: three community groups, one government officials and one media and NGO representatives. Each group was facilitated by a DECCMA member who collected the responses from the relevant group. A lively and informative group discussion took place which was later shared and validated among other groups through the oral presentation from different groups.

The responses from different stakeholders on different issues are as following:

Hazard types

  • River Erosion
  • Storm Surge
  • Cyclone
  • Water-logging
  • Salinity
  • Tidal Flooding
  • Drought
  • Sea level Rise

Migration patterns, reasons and destination


  1. Seasonal /Temporary
  2. Permanent
    a) Internal
    b) International (very low)
    c) One Family Member
    d) Whole family (The number is moderate or high when they migrate within the same upazila, but the number is very low when they migrate to other places e.g. other upazilas, district town and divisional towns)

1. River erosion
2. In pursuit of better life (voluntary)
3. Storm surge
4. Sea level rise
5. Temporary migration for climatic hazards
6. Lack of job opportunity

1. Upazilla (Sub-district)
a) Within same upazila: Char to Char
b) To other upazilas within the same district
2. District Town
a) Within the same district: Lakshmipur
b) To other districts (but not divisional town): Noakhali, Feni, Bhola
3. Divisional Town
a) Within same division: Chittagong
b) To other divisions (but not the capital): Barisal
4. Capital: Dhaka
5. International: Oman

Adaptation types, results and recommendations

1. Government Initiatives:
a) Resettlement Projects: Guchhogram, Asrayon project
b) Shelter Projects: Cyclone Centre, Killa
c) Protection Initiatives: Polders (Past), Bank protection measures, sluice gate (to reduce congestion)
d) Agricultural Intervention: Cultivation of flood tolerant rice variety,
e) Fishing Intervention: Restriction in fishing during breeding/reproduction season
Relevant Organizations/Projects: Prime Minister’s Office; Water Development Board; Department of Fisheries; Water Resources Planning Organization (WARPO); Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP)

2. NGO Initiatives:
a) Resettlement Projects: Guchhogram, resettlement centres
b) Agricultural Intervention: Cultivation of hybrid crops
c) Advocacy Initiative: Awareness building
Relevant Organizations: Community Development Centre (CODEC); Centre for Natural Resource Studies (CNRS)

3. Self-initiatives:
a) Tree plantation in vacant land and mangrove forest
b) Change of Profession: (i) fisherman/farmer to rickshaw puller, Brick field workers, micro business; (ii) fisherman to farmer
c) Employment of Female Members: (i) garment workers in divisional town (Chittagong); (ii) local income earning activities: making caps, mats etc.
d) Raising livestock (hen, duck)
e) Raising plinth

4. Other Interventions:
a) Reserve rain water adjacent to Killa
b) Drinkwater from river using Phitkiri (Alum)

Result of Adaptation (Successful Adaptation/Maladaptation):

1. Successful Adaptation:
a) Meghna river bank protection
b) Asrayon project
c) Livestock farming (hen, duck)
d) Soybean cultivation
e) Women Employment: Cap making

2. Maladaptation:
a) Reducing depth of connecting canals/ water bodies
b) BishwaBeri

1. Inefficient money transaction
2. Insufficient funding
3. Lack of sustainability/proper planning
4. Lack of coordination with experts/interagency
5. Management and supervision

1. Increased height of the roads

Governance Issues

Existing Gaps/problems:
1. Embankment and river protection mechanisms are not efficient
2. Irregular river dredging
3. Inequitable distribution of resources
4. Lack of proper management of in resettlement interventions(Guchogram, resettlement centres)
5. Inefficient number cyclone centres andKilla
6. Lack of coordination in among different stakeholders in different development interventions
7. Lack of forest coverage

Gender Issues

1. Women’s Participation in income generation activities followed by disasters (garment worker, cap and mat making)
2. Fewer natural resources (firewood, vegetables, fruit) available to provide family members
3. Increased domestic (duck/ hen rearing) and financial responsibilities

Considerable number of participants from different stakeholder groups (government officials, NGOs, media personnel, community members) participated in the workshop and expressed their opinions willingly. Learning about the potential of DECCMA project, participants shared their knowledge with DECCMA Bangladesh team members without much reservation. Significant number of female participation also enlightened DECCMA Bangladesh with their concerns. Overall, the workshop provided DECCMA Bangladesh team with insightful and interesting information for their research activities.

Dr Bernard Cantin’s visit to the Indian Sundarbans

bernard cantin visit

CARIAA director Bernard Cantin visiting the Sunderbans

CARIAA Program Leader Dr Bernard Cantin visited the Indian Sundarbans last month. As a part of the CARIAA family and DECCMA, we were lucky to host him on a trip to our study area.

On Friday the 20th of November, we set out early in the morning by road. After a round of self-introduction within the group, the areas we were passing by were introduced. Maps made their advent and the physical features of the areas were discussed. The journey by road was through the district of South 24 Parganas, a part of our study area of the Indian Bengal Delta (IBD). The demographic situation of the district as emerging from our DECCMA research was shared. Being a peri-urban area of the megacity Kolkata, those areas were the receiving areas of migrants as observed from secondary data analysis. We shared our learning from the DECCMA stakeholder workshops and focus group discussions about the employment opportunities in and around the area which lure in migrants from the islands of IBD. While sharing the findings we were rediscovering the nuances of the features of our study area. It was interesting for me as I was participating in an inter-active session and not trying to merely absorb from reports laden with graphs and tables. This rekindled in me the importance of the Research into Use component as the way knowledge is tailored and presented to the audience determines how the knowledge is accepted and finally put to use.

Amidst discussions, we reached Canning which presently houses the headquarters of the two community development blocks (sub-districts) of Canning I and II. Named after the erstwhile Governor General and Viceroy of India, Lord Canning, Canning now houses an abandoned port. Canning has its fate in the flow of the Matla River on whose bank it is situated. Due to siltation in the river, the port had to be abandoned and the last ship to have left Port Canning dates back to 1872. A local artist, Mr Kshitish Bishal, was kind enough to host us at his studio which houses his collection of historical artefacts obtained from the Sundarbans. Bricks from the different eras of the Indian history, the Holy Bible written in Bangla, little clay figurines was on display. We saw the skull of a water-buffalo, intact with its majestic curved horns, once a resident of Sundarbans but are now believed to be extinct. A collection of artefacts from Sundarbans could never be complete without something to do with a tiger. A plaster cast from a prominent pugmark holds a special place in the collection and it kindled the hope of sighting a tiger the next day when we venture into the forest. After enjoying tea here, we resumed our journey by road.

We reached Godkhali by noon and our boat plied through the Bidyadhari River. During our journey, we finished our lunch and went to the Sajnekhali Sundarban Tiger Reserve. We showed Dr Cantin the captive breeding of the highly endangered species of turtle, the Batagur Baska which was done successfully at this Interpretation Centre. Sunbathing Bengal Monitor Lizards, playful Spotted Deer and a shy crocodile let us glimpse at them. A tour around the Mangrove Interpretation Centre showcased the rich flora and fauna of the Indian Sundarbans, the different livelihoods that the residents of the islands undertake and the precarious situations that they brave every day to make both end meet.

Following this tour, we reached our hotel where we were greeted by the cordial staff. It was still some time till sundown and we made full use of the daylight by taking a walk down the temporary mud embankment and showing Dr Cantin the various features of the Jamespur Village of Satjelia Island. The use of solar energy in this island is a development option that many residents enjoy. We shared with Bernard the local belief in the goddess Bon Bibi (literally the lady of the forests) who is regarded as the spirit of the forests and is worshipped by Hindus and Muslims alike. Anyone venturing into the forests worships her to keep them safe from the dangers that lurk in there. The setting sun beyond the veil of mangroves and the waters guided us back to our hotel. In the evening, a local tribal dance troupe performed for us. Echoing the Brechtian notion of “breaking the fourth wall” the performers invited us to sing and dance with them and it was a fun moment for us all. After this, we sat together for informal discussions. I thought that when a Program Leader of a research project and professors and researchers unite over informal discussions, it would entail technical and scientific topics. How wrong I was! Our discussion was instead ruled by Philosophy, Spirituality, History, Ethnography, Politics, Religion, Art and Literature – the interactions of these across the two axes of Space and Time. While sharing our Indian history, it was a case of rediscovering the Self. I was learning a lot and felt enriched. After dinner, we retired for the day hoping to spot a tiger in the forests the next day!

Early morning we left for the forest in our boat. Bernard informed us that he went for a walk and also visited Bon Bibi’s temple since we were venturing into the forests! We were touched by this warm gesture. The clear blue sky, various species of Mangroves and the still waters were greeting us. The effect of erosion on the mangroves was prominent as many were succumbing to the tidal waters. I knew that many of these trees would not be around the next time I visit the area. A Lesser Adjutant Stork (locally called Madan Tak) spread it majestic wings right in front of our boat and perched on the top of a tree prompting the cameras to go into frenzy! Different species of Kingfishers, cranes, doves, kites were spotted during our journey. Crocodiles and Bengal Monitor lizards were also basking in the morning sun along the banks. Spotted deer with antlers were out in the forest munching on young leaves. A rare moment for all of us was when we spotted an alert fawn whose eyes spelt out the danger it was sensing. Soon the doe emerged from the shrubs and shielded its young. We were waiting with bated breath to see what the mother and the young were apprehensive of. The first thought was what if it was a tiger but what emerged from the shrubs was a Wild Boar! We finished our lunch and went to the Sudhanyakhali Reserve Forest. From atop the watch tower we spotted a number of errant monkeys, swimming Bengal Monitor lizard, deer and a Little Black Cormorant who was drying its wings on a branch. It was time for us to start our journey back to Godkhali where the car was waiting for us. Our tour guide said that we might not have seen a tiger but sighting so many animals and birds within a span of few hours is rare.

We reached Godkhali and began our journey by road to take Bernard to the airport for his flight back to Canada. I had read about the differences between a Boss and a Leader but this was my practical lesson as Bernard asked for my feedback on the last CARIAA reporting template and whether the KM Platform is found useful by my team members, discussed on how RiU can be made effective, how communications can be improved between the four consortia etc. He was impressed to learn that DECCMA has local coordinators in each country of research to better facilitate coordination between country teams and the lead team at University of Southampton.

We said our goodbyes once we reached Kolkata, thanked him for taking time out to visit the Sundarabans and invited him for a longer trip the next time so that we get to take him to the Mahanadi Delta as well. For all of us, it was a weekend well spent amidst nature and refreshing discussions away from our desktops and deadlines!

Prof. Sugata Hazra, Dr Tuhin Ghosh, Dr Somnath Hazra, Subhajit Ghosh and Sumana Banerjee were the DECCMA India members who hosted Dr. Bernard Cantin.

Household Survey to further understanding of adaptation options in deltas

household survey understanding

Street scene

The WP6 survey aims to understand all the changes a household has made within a given time frame. This includes changes to livelihoods, as well as changes to the household more generally. During data collection, we will not distinguish between true adaptations (i.e. changes that seek to reduce future climate risk that a household makes in response/in anticipation of climate drivers), serendipitous adaptations (i.e. changes made for any reason that coincidentally reduce future climate risk), coping (i.e. short term strategies that may increase future climate risk) and maladaptation adaptations (i.e. the changes a household makes in response/in anticipation of climate drivers that may increase future climate risk for the household or other members of society). These distinctions will be made during our analysis using additional data from the socio-demographic and well-being sections of the survey, which are being led by WP3.

The approach we propose is innovative as, instead of beginning with perceptions of climate drivers and then examining how people change their livelihoods as a result of them, we will begin by examining the way in which people have changed their livelihoods and then try to understand why they have done this. Our approach means that we capture data about the changes people make in response to multiple drivers. This means that the DECCMA project will be contribute to debates on the relative importance of climate drivers in adaptation. We will also capture information about serendipitous adaptations.

More specifically, the WP6 part of the survey starts by understanding the changes that respondents have made within a specified period of time. We then seek to understand the drivers for these changes (climate or other), as well as their perceived success. We will also explore the barriers that stop households making the changes that they would most like to make. Finally, we will collect data on perceptions of environmental change.

The WP6 Adaptation survey will examine two hypotheses. These are;
i. Households stay in vulnerable locations due to policy choices that encourage maladaptive behaviour
ii. Migration of one household member improves the adaptive capacity of the household who remain in-situ.