DECCMA co-organises session on climate change, migration and adaptation at the South Asian Network on Economic Modelling annual conference in Bangladesh

by Saiful Alam

DECCMA co-organised a session with the South Asian Network on Economic Modelling on “Climate change, migration and adaptation: Challenges and way forward for Bangladesh” at the 3rd SANEM Annual Economists’ Conference 2018. The conference was titled “Leave no one behind in South Asia” and took place on February 17-18, 2018 in Mohakhali, Bangladesh.

Mashfiqus Salehin introduces the DECCMA project

Dr. Mashfiqus Salehin, IWFM, gave an overview of the aims and objectives of the DECCMA project and the ways in which it has investigated the nature of climate hazards, vulnerability, adaptation and migration in coastal Bangladesh. He explained the empirical evidence received from extensive stakeholder engagement, the analysis of vulnerability in the hotspots and concluded with the importance of household adaptations in the reduction of climate related vulnerability in the coastal region.

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Dr. Bazlul Haque Khondker and Zubayer Hossen from SANEM presented DECCMA’s economic framework. This involved the use of stakeholder consultation to provide insights into the Input-Output table of Computable General Equilibrium model in explaining its linkages with livelihood, income and other economic parameters in the agriculture-dominated coastal environment.

Panelists Dr. Anwara Begum, BIDS and Mr. Saiful Alam, DECCMA, discussed the gender dimensions of adaptation and how the research findings on livelihoods and adaptation can influence climate-related policy and planning in Bangladesh. In an open discussion, the panelists answered a number of question from the audience related to the relevance to climate policy and the Sustainable Development Goals.

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ESPA Deltas project publishes short film on creating a sustainable future for climate-vulnerable deltas

The Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation Delta Project has just published a short film that highlights its findings in Bangladesh. The project was concerned with assessing health, livelihoods, ecosystems and poverty alleviation in populous deltas to provide knowledge and tools to enable policy-makers to evaluate the effects of policy decisions on people’s livelihoods.

A multidisciplinary and multi-national team of policy analysts, social and natural scientists and engineers collectively used a participatory approach to create a model to formally evaluate ecosystem services and poverty in the context of the wide range of changes that are occurring. In the film, DECCMA Principle Investigator Professor Robert Nicholls and researcher Dr Helen Adams talk about the environmental and social stresses facing delta populations, from salinity and subsidence to poverty and marginalisation.

ESPA Deltas holds final workshop with the Planning Commission in Bangladesh

by Saiful Alam

DECCMA builds on a project under the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme – ESPA Deltas. Following closure of ESPA Deltas in 2016 policy-makers in Bangladesh requested support in the use of tools developed within the project to assess the implications of government project proposals on ecosystem services and livelihoods in coastal Bangladesh. An additional year of funding was granted to ensure that the developed research could be translated into use to inform policy.

ESPA workshop (photo: Saiful Alam)

The final workshop of this extension project took place last week at the Planning Commission in Dhaka. Chaired by Professor Shamsul Alam, Senior Secretary in the General Economic Division of the Planning Commission, the workshop provided the opportunity for researchers to present their evaluations of the effect of three interventions proposed under the Delta Plan 2100.

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Research team members Professor Robert Nicholls and Dr Alex Chapman (University of Southampton) and Professors Md. Munsur Rahman, Mashfiqus Salehin and Anisul Haque (Institute of Water and Flood Management, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology) outlined the implications of three structural interventions under the Delta Plan 2100: ‘Green belt’ along the  coastal vulnerable area and sea walls along a selection of polders (sea-facing and a cluster in the south central part of the coast).

Professor Alam expressed his appreciation for the analysis and stated that it will allow more confidence about its application. DECCMA has furthered the evolving relationship with the Planning Commission. Professor Alam expressed his interest in DECCMA’s integrated assessment model to assess the impacts of cyclones on the coast, sediment management and water-logging.

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Prizegiving for the enumerators of Bangladesh’s 1500 household survey

Certificates were awarded to 18 young researchers who acted as enumerators in DECCMA’s survey of migration and adaptation in 1500 households in Dhaka and Chittagong – two of the most influential cities in Bangladesh and the destination of many migrants.

The certificate award ceremony took place at the end of October at the Institute for Water and Flood Management at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. It coincided with a Bangladesh Country Team meeting, that brought together more than 80 researchers from the various partner organisations, including RMMRU, BIDS, TARA, CEGIS and SANEM.

Certificates were awarded at the Bangladesh Country Team meeting

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There were different categories of prize. One was for best supervisor of the DECCMA receiving area survey, two were available for best enumerators (one each for Dhaka and Chittagong) and  two for the best photography. Mr Md. Masum Ebne Haque and Muhammad Sehab Uddin got the prize for their valuable photos. Mr Md. Ataur Rahman and Ms Nahida Akter was selected as the best enumerators and Mr Robi Ray was selected for the best field supervisor. Congratulations to all!

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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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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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Migration and adaptation: a case study from the Khulna-Jessore region

by Nazia Bushra, Research Assistant, Refugee and Migratory Movement Research Unit (RMMRU)

Khulna stands on the banks of the Rupsha and the Bhairab rivers, located in southwest Bangladesh, and it is the geographical mid-point between the ports of Jessore and Mongla. It is also the second largest seaport of the country.

image001In the coming years, the Khulna-Jessore regions are going to become increasingly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.  Khulna is already prone to salinity intrusion and cyclones.  Less fresh water now flows in the adjacent rivers and saltwater intrudes here from the Bay of Bengal.  Also, the local shrimp aquaculture is affected by viruses and other harmful factors related to high salinity and the increase in water temperature.

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In the case of Jessore, the increased salinity, floods, and storms are all major drivers of human migration from this locale.  In order to obtain accurate data on the magnitude of migration and adaptation status of these two regions, we conducted a household survey of the 8 mouzas of these two cities. During the household listing survey, we found that people are suffering here from livelihood crises and related economic challenges. A large portion of household members that we interviewed were educated, which might explain their tendency to migrate to other regions and abroad.  However, some of them are adapting to the present situation by adopting new technologies.  They cultivate saline-resistant rice varieties (e.g. IRRI-11, 23, 54) and vegetables (e.g. water-melon, pumpkin etc.) but most cultivation takes place only during the rainy season; in dry season they usually buy vegetables and crops from neighbouring areas.

In Khulna, some of the most challenging environmental situations are found in Amurkata and Paikgachha. The communication system, mobile networks and food accessibility are all hampered by logistical issues.  Environmental problems such as salinity of drinking water, low diversity of crop varieties, waterlogging, and cyclone-induced tidal surges are pervasive in this area. Local NGO’s such as ASA, BRAC, JJS, NOBOJUG etc. are trying to provide fresh water to these areas and the government is also constructing some cyclone shelters. Because of the prevalence of cyclones, most of the houses are made up of mud and conventional golpata, and electricity is relatively scarce among these types of dwellings.

In Jessore, Bahadurpur village has two areas named Mathpara and Hotatpara which received many migrants from neighbouring areas during times of flood and other natural disasters. These displaced persons are economically vulnerable as they try to adapt to life here. They face unemployment, job insecurity and the lack of other basic facilities, such as a scarcity of clean water. The unhygienic sanitation conditions, combined with the other difficulties, have led to a high incidence of diseases.

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The challenges of living with climate change in Noakhali and Laxmipur Districts

by Aysha Akter Akhi

It is a nice opportunity to work with RMMRU on the DECCMA project. For the purpose of completing this work, I got a chance to visit the Noakhali-Laxmipur region of Bangladesh. This visit enabled me to talk with the people of this remote area. I visited 7 Mouzas in Noakhali and Laxmipur district. The people of these areas are mostly affected by the consequences of climate change. Cyclone, flood, river erosion, scarcity of rain, heavy rainfalls are frequent in these areas. Among 7 Mouzas, I found that the Char Elahi Mouza of Companigonj of Noakhali district is the most vulnerable.

image001I went to Char Lengta of Char Elahi which is very close to the Meghna River. People who live on the bank of the river are at serious risk.  Because of environmental factors like river erosion, many people have lost their houses, lands, and other belongings. They live in bamboo or tin-metaljhupri houses.

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Economic difficulties mean that attaining regular meals is difficult for many people here. Some have responded to these difficulties by becoming migrants. Many are living in the homes of friends and family places, while some have taken shelter in Mosques and Primary Schools. The usual occupations for many of these people are fishing and cultivation, but at present they have no land to cultivate and there has been a drastic reduction in fish populations in the river. Many are not provided with basic human rights, like food and shelter.

For these reasons, people in Char Elahi have a lot of complains against their local representative. They claim that not a single person is ready to hear them or even to talk with them, and that help is far away. When I went to talk with those people, they thought that perhaps I would do some help or provide financial aid to them.  Alas! there was nothing I could to for them except listen to their sorrows and sufferings.  I observed their lives and their needs very closely. They fight with nature early and late with great courage.

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The lives of littoral people in Rehania

by Tamanna Nazneen

Rehania is a coastal village in Bangladesh on Hatiya Island, Noakhali.  Cyclone, coastal flood and water salinity are some of the common natural hazards in Rehania.  Recently, a research survey led by DECCMA (Deltas, Vulnerability and Climate Change: Migration and Adaptation), under RMMRU (Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit), has been held in this area.  For this reason, I had the great opportunity of going to Hatiya and observing the lifestyle of the people in the Rehania village.

Most of the people of Rehania are the victim of natural hazards like floods, river erosion and cyclones. They migrated here from other coastal areas of Noakhali, Lakshmipur, Bhola and Sandhwip (Chittagong). They lost everything from river erosion and cyclones. The Government re-housed them on the two sides of river dam and gave them a small amount of land per family but it was inadequate.


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There is a lack of effective livelihoods. At first, people earned their livelihood by farming and fishing but the farming lands in the surrounding areas are also affected by flooding, more than three times per year. Flood water is very saline here and as a result the farming land has become saline. During the dry season, a white layer of salt is visible on the land so farming becomes difficult.  Farmers grow Aaush paddy (a variation of paddy which grows in the summer and is harvested during the monsoon), chilli and ground nut but in most cases crops are destroyed because of flood and water salinity.

Due to global warming, sea levels are rising and salinity of the sea is entering up stream through rivers and feeder canals resulting in most of the farmers changing their livelihood.  In recent years, they earn their livelihood by fishing and doing other jobs through migration.  Seasonal migration is an important livelihood strategy to these families.  More than 70% of their incomes are derived from outside the village.  Most of the seasonal migrants work in brickfields in Chittagong under a contract and after a working season return home with their wages, of which a significant amount is spent buying fishing nets and boats (in share).  They also send some remittances for their family. Fishing is their monsoon season job and during dry season they always migrate for other work (in brickfields).

In Rehania, many women are self-employed doing animal husbandry.  They lease cattle and tend. In exchange, they get some money and can sell milk after giving a specific portion to the cattle owner.  When we went to Rehania village for the survey and wanted to interview them, at first, they thought we were government workers who had come to them for reporting about their life conditions, so that they could get their desired governmental help for materials for building more sustainable houses and a sanitary latrine. They were eager to take effective training about cultivation methods of flood prone areas and also wanted a subsidy for agriculture, saline water tolerant crop seeds and fishing materials.

When they came to know about our research and its aim, they became tamed, but most of them spread their helping hand and cordially responded to our questionnaire. Though their life is afflicted with lots of pain, they never give up their smiles and hospitality.  Whenever we went to any respondent’s house, they treated us with green coconuts, ground nuts, mangoes and whatever they had.  We were amazed with their cordial behaviour and realised again the hospitable nature of the Bangladeshi people.

We were also amazed with the children of Rehania. They were very interesting and curiously stared at us with our tablets and questionnaire papers. They wanted to follow us around but we insisted that they did not and instead go to their school. Whenever it was possible we offered them chocolates, biscuits and juice to have with us. They also gave us red hibiscus flowers. This flower is available in every house and roadside.

Natural disasters are a part of their life.  They always have to face it and struggle against it just like other littoral people. Naturally, they are brave and have adaptational capacities in such a hostile environment. They know how to keep their house safe from cyclones by planting banana and coconut trees around their houses.  For a better livelihood they migrate to other places and try to send remittances. They are optimistic about their life. They just want some help from the government to make their livelihood more sustainable.  The days may be hard, but their hopes and aspirations are never tamed. The always-smiling face is the symbol of their life spirit.

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