Story of change-DECCMA’s inputs to the Odisha State Action Plan on Climate Change 2018-23

DECCMA is committed to providing policy support to create the conditions for sustainable, gender-sensitive adaptation in deltas. The DECCMA India team in the Mahanadi delta, through consortium members Sansristi and the Chilika Development Authority, has actively engaged with stakeholders in the Odisha state government.

As a result of this engagement, the DECCMA India team was invited to provide comments into the second Odisha State Action Plan on Climate Change 2018-23. Whilst gender was minimally considered, as a results of DECCMA’s inputs and research findings the plan now contains a separate chapter on gender. This short video clip tracks DECCMA’s contribution to the change in the content of the Action Plan.

Deltas: present and future-new infographic from DECCMA

DECCMA has released a new infographic that summarises what we know about deltas in the present and future. Deltas are already exposed to sea level rise, coastal erosion, flooding and salinisation. In the future climate risk will increase beyond 2050, but the particular nature of hazards differs between deltas. In the Volta in Ghana, for example, erosion and flooding is driven by waves and sea level rise; whereas the future of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna is more dependent on sediment input than other deltas.

Deltas are already important contributors to national economies. In the future agriculture will become less significant in economies due to land degradation and erosion, but models show a slight increase in the productivity of brackish fisheries.

People in deltas are already mobile but in future mobility will be exacerbated by the effects of climate and environmental stresses on livelihood options.

Adaptation is already taking place, but more will be required in future. Infrastructural adaptations, such as dykes and embankments, are required, as is effective planning, such as the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100. Policy frameworks should be revisited to enable gender-equitable adaptation and support for internally displaced persons. Migration also provides opportunities for adaptation.

New insights on climate change, migration and adaptation in the Mahanadi and Indian Bengal deltas

by Sumana Banerjee

DECCMA has released two new briefs that outline the latest findings on climate change, migration and adaptation in the Mahanadi and Indian Bengal deltas. Among the highlights are the relationship of migration to climate stress (with most stressed locations sending more migrants in both deltas), the barriers to policy implementation (particularly relating to embankment (re)construction), and lack of gender-sensitive adaptation policies.

The briefs provide an update to our earlier delta briefs (for the Mahanadi and Indian Bengal deltas).

DECCMA gender outputs published in India’s Economic and Political Weekly

by Katharine Vincent

The issue of India’s Economic and Political Weekly published on 28th April 2018 features two papers from DECCMA researchers. Asha Hans from DECCMA and Nitya Rao from ASSAR penned a piece “Gender and climate change. Directions for research, policy and practice” that introduces various articles that interrogates a statement in the Indian National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) that states that “the impacts of climate change could prove particularly severe for women”. “Adapting to climate change-induced migration. Women in the Indian Bengal delta” is by the late Asish Kumar Ghosh, Sukanya Banerjee and Farha Naaz. It highlights how climate change-induced migration by men after cyclone Aila left women with the burden of running households – but the positive role of self-help groups in enabling empowerment.

Fish drying technology used by women’s groups (photo by Sumana Banerjee)

DECCMA India and CARIAA partners release policy brief on migration

DECCMA India and the two other CARIAA projects that work in country, Adaptation at Scale in Arid and Semi-arid Regions (ASSAR) and Himalayan Adaptation Water and Resilience (HiAWARE)  have released a joint policy brief on migration. The policy brief synthesises research findings from across the projects, and was officially launched in Delhi on 4th May. Evidence from the three climate change hotspots (deltas, glacier-fed river basins and arid areas) shows that most migration is internal, undertaken by men, and to urban and peri-urban areas. Most migration is for economic reasons, and remittances from migration are important sources of income in migrant-sending areas. Environmental change is leading to displacement in some cases (e.g. from the eroding land in deltas), and in others contributes to the economic stresses that drive migration.

Gender and Climate Change addressed for the first time at the XV National Conference on Women’s Studies, India

Inaugural session of the conference

Inaugural session of the conference

Gender and women’s rights are being increasingly addressed worldwide through movements and media, which are inspired by the realm of women’s studies. While this change is a welcome one, it also has to be kept in mind that the challenges and disparities still remain and a long way has to be traversed. At this juxtaposition of phenomenon, the Indian Association for Women’s Studies (IAWS) organised the XV National Conference on Women’s Studies at the University of Madras, Chennai from 22 – 25 January 2017 with a theme “Women in a Changing World: Restructured inequalities, counter currents and Sites of Resistance”.

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The conference had a number of sessions focussing on themes related to women’s issues however the theme on “Gender and Climate Change” was introduced for the first time in an IAWS conference. Dr Amrita Patel (DECCMA) and Prof Nitya Rao (ASSAR) were the convenors of this sub-theme. Dr Patel chaired General Sessions, Prof Rao chaired sessions on Energy and Adaptation and Prof Asha Hans (DECCMA) also chaired a session on Flood and Deltas.

With two members from Sansristi as Session-chairs and four researchers as paper-presenters, DECCMA objectives and research undertaken were disseminated well. Brief summaries of the presentations are as follows:

Farha Naaz (Centre for Environment and Development) presented a paper titled “Climate Change and Adaptation: Strategy and coping mechanism – Role of women Self Help Groups in Indian Bengal Delta”. The presentation was based on the work done earlier by CED but the study area is a part of the DECCMA Study Area. DECCMA research studies the impacts of climate change on deltaic populations and involves having baseline knowledge on migration and adaptation initiatives taking place in the study areas and this study corroborates that. The presentation discussed the post-2009 Cyclone Aila scenario in IBD where male migration is on the rise as the delta in becoming increasingly vulnerable and the women who are left behind are tasked to take on more responsibility of the household looking after both the elderly and the children. In such a situation, Women Self Help Groups (SHGs) started acting as powerful means of social development and an important tool of micro financing. The scheme of micro financing through SHGs has given significant economic power to the hands of women thereby elevating the economic status of their families.

Gender and climate change session in progress

Gender and climate change session in progress

Jasmine Giri (Sansristi) presented a paper titled “Climate change effects on women: a case study of Odisha”. DECCMA has a strong focus on gender in its research components and this presentation based on secondary analysis examined the impact of disasters on women’s livelihood in Jagatsingpur district of Odisha. The paper relied on secondary data to identify the impact of disasters in the district and its effect on women’s livelihood, particularly after the super cyclone Kalinga in 1999. The dominant livelihood in Jagatsingpur area is agriculture and fisheries and thus the community, specifically the women are vulnerable to the slightest changes in the availability or access to these natural resources. The coping mechanisms adopted by women in such a situation were also shared.

Sukanya Banerjee (Centre for Environment and Development) presented a paper titled “Climate Change and Male Migration: Role of Women in the Changed Environ”. During the presentation, DECCMA’s overview was shared followed by the adverse impacts of Climate Change on the vulnerable Indian Bengal Delta (IBD) and its people. This presentation was also based on work done earlier by CED but the study area is a part of the DECCMA Study Area and the study was adapted to this presentation to throw light on DECCMA’s research questions pertaining to migration. The paper primarily focused on the fact that cyclone Aila wreaked havoc in IBD in 2009 as a result of which many people lost their livelihoods and 50% of able bodied males were compelled to migrate out of their homes to as many as 10 different states in India to work as unskilled labour in the real estate sector. The regular remittances which they send to their families as a result of this ‘climate induced’ migration has brought about a significant change in the social construct of the area. The women of the households were suddenly burdened with a new sense of responsibility in the form of being the new household heads in the absence of the male members of their families. The need for empowerment of women was also focused on to adapt to climate change.

Sumanta Banerjee (Chilika Development Authority) presented a paper titled “Linking Women Empowerment, Resilience in the context of Climate change: A case study of Bhusandapur in the shore of Chilika lake of Odisha” which aimed to conceptualize and understand the links of women’s empowerment and resilience in the context of the climate change. This presentation was based on Focus Group Discussions conducted in Bhusandapur village of Tangi block in Khordha district of Odisha. The environmental fragility of the study area was explained in the context of indicators of climate variability and then with the help of women’s empowerment framework by Longwe (1995), the paper looked at resilience as the result of absorptive, adaptive, and transformative capacities. The absorptive and adaptive capacities responses were captured and subsequently with the help of an example the transition phase of the Bhusandapur village was explained. Then, the successful case study of tent-house and Dry-fish business led by women’s organization in the context of climate change adaptation was linked with the primary objective of the study.

All the researchers felt that interactions with other researchers and attending relevant lectures helped them to gain a deeper understanding on the issues plaguing women in a changing world, be it employment, inequalities, discrimination, violence or women farmers (labour, livelihoods and resource rights). Case studies as shared by the speakers helped to bring together instances from across the country to one platform. In the theme Session 10 on Climate Change, discussions focussed on the impacts of climate change on health, socio economic conditions, particularly on women, and the risks and vulnerabilities that women face in the context of climate change. Adaptation strategies, coping mechanisms and approaches of mitigation were also discussed. This theme did not have as many presentations as compared to the other themes which may throw some light on the need to bring attention to the emerging issue of how a changing climate can have differential impacts based on gender. However, akin to a baby’s first step where the effort has to be continued to make sure the wobbliness disappears, this effort of addressing gender and climate change has to be continued to make our concerns visible.

This post was written with contributions from reports written by Dr Amrita Patel, Prof Nitya Rao, Ms Farha Naaz, Ms Jasmine Giri, Ms Sukanya Banerjee and Mr Sumanta Banerjee.

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Training opportunities availed by Indian researchers

Besides creating learning opportunities for its members, the DECCMA project also encourages them to make use of opportunities provided by institutes external to the project. Training opportunities help researchers to garner new knowledge and implement the lessons in their ongoing research.

Two researchers from the DECCMA-Indian Team, Dr Somnath Hazra & Subhajit Ghosh attended two trainings each during the past two months. While attending the trainings organized by the DECCMA consortium, the researchers were aware where in the project the knowledge will be utilised. For the trainings organized by other institutes, the knowledge provided a foundation for further learning and it helped them think about the applicability of the training in their DECCMA research areas. Continue reading

Interview with #DECCMA5th Poster Winner – Gregory Cooper

Poster Greg Cooper

Greg Cooper poster

Gregory Cooper, PhD student at the University of Southampton, won the Poster Competition at DECCMA’s 5th Consortium Workshop in Kolkata (Aug 2016). Here he is interviewed.

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1. Why did you choose the topic for the poster?

This poster relates to the wider topic of my PhD, which focuses on exploring social-ecological tipping points and nonlinearities in delta systems. The Chilika lagoon of the Mahanadi delta, India, captured my interest due to its historical productivity collapse from 7200 tonnes/year (1980s average) to 3100 tonnes/year (1990s average), triggering declined fisher wellbeing, livelihood opportunities and the first recorded instances of economic migration from the region. Therefore, this poster communicates progress (September 2016) on the development of a systems dynamics model of Chilika’s fishery, to assess the causes and probabilities of future productivity collapses. The model’s structure and parameters show how the different components of the system fit together. The small section on model performance analysis argues that the model is capable of reproducing historical fishery trends. Thirdly, initial findings show that the model is producing realistic and policy relevant outputs, which may eventually inform the future governance of Chilika’s fishery.

2. What data sources have you used for the analysis?

The construction of the model has relied on a combination of quantitative and qualitative data, from a mix of primary and secondary sources:

  • The rainfall-runoff models of the Lower Mahanadi and Chilika’s western catchments are built from daily resolution rainfall and temperature datasets from the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD). Daily river discharge from Tikarapara on the Lower Mahanadi catchment is obtained from the Indian Central Water Commission’s ‘Water Resource Information System of India’.
  • Ecohydrological monitoring datasets of the Chilika Development Authority (CDA) parameterise interactions between freshwater inflows to Chilika and lagoonal salinity, dissolved oxygen, temperature and aquatic vegetation coverage.
  • CDA datasets also inform the model’s socioeconomic components, including estimations of fisher populations, boat numbers, fish price, fishing costs, catch per unit effort and so on.
  • Interviews were conducted with Chilika’s stakeholders and experts to understand any qualitative feedbacks driving Chilika’s fishery catch. For example, Chilika’s fishers spoke of how they adapt fishing efforts to their perceptions of fish stock abundance, in an attempt to protect against overexploitation of Chilika’s resource. Moreover, interviews with Chilika’s scientists and governors have helped consider feasible management approaches to model, such as the necessity of continued sediment dredging and the difficulties of implementing productivity quotas.
  • With the exception of the hydroclimatic datasets, all data was obtained during the field visit of February-April 2016. I express gratitude to the CDA, Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project of Odisha and Jadavpur University for their kind assistance during my visit.

3. What’s the significance of your conclusions?

The model’s outputs have two main significances:

  • Although known since the lagoon’s ecorestoration in 2000, outputs support the argument that Chilika’s sediment requires periodic flushing to sustain fish catches. Without reopening, the lagoon’s main tidal outlet effectively closes by 2040, inhibiting the seasonal migration of 70% of Chilika’s marine and brackish species.
  • Outputs also show that higher annual catches do not necessarily mean higher income for Chilika’s fishers. Fish catch may decline beyond 2060 as fishers pursue alternative livelihoods, but per capita income is higher than it would otherwise be under a future without alternative livelihoods. By guarding against anthropogenic overexploitation, such falling catches promote the multidecadal sustainability of Chilika’s fish stock for future generations of fishers.
    Further work aims to assess how alternative governance approaches can enhance Chilika’s sustainability under a spectrum of plausible futures, before investigating critical driver thresholds leading to collapse, to design a “regional safe and just operating space” for Chilika.

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DECCMA India’s Household Survey in Mahanadi Delta

The DECCMA Household Survey went live on May 31 2016 and was completed on July 19 2016. A survey company was appointed (according to our survey protocol) and representatives from Jadavpur University, Chilika Development Authority, and Sansristi were present from the project.

Prior to this, training of enumerators, field testing of the questionnaire with the use of tablets, were done.

Households from fifty locations within our study area were selected for this survey based on migrant and non-migrant as emerged from our household listing activity. The survey team travelled to four locations in Bhadrak district, eight locations in Jagatsinghpur district, five locations in Kendrapara district, twelve locations in Khordha district, and twenty one locations in Puri district to complete this survey.

A total of 1427 households were surveyed which included both migrant and non-migrant households, and male and female respondents. DECCMA’s gender sensitive approach ensured that male enumerators interviewed male respondents and female enumerators interviewed female respondents.

The biggest challenge faced by the team during this activity was the heat wave. Odisha was suffering heat wave conditions since April and temperatures almost touched 50 degree Celsius during the survey. Necessary precautions were taken by carrying sufficient water and glucose. The afternoons were the worst and we had members from the survey team suffering blackouts due to the extreme heat. Some had to be hospitalised as well. Under such conditions, the survey had to be paused for a few days.

During the data collection phase, some locations were revisited to maximise the response percentage. This was done since during the main data collection phase, there were some households where members were not present or unavailable to give responses at our time of visit.

Simultaneously with the data collection, continued the data checking processes. The research team put in hard efforts to ensure that checking was done meticulously. The data from this survey will be guiding most of our research work.

Since the DECCMA Indian team works in two deltas (Indian Bengal Delta and Mahanadi Delta), learning from this survey in Mahanadi Delta will help us in implementing it in the survey for the Indian Bengal Delta.

The DECCMA-India team thanks all who have participated, guided, contributed, and helped in this Mahanadi Household Survey activity.