New CARIAA brief on migration in climate change hotspots

Synthesising migration findings in India from three CARIAA projects

by Sumana Banerjee

With the Collaborative Adaptation Research In Africa and Asia (CARIAA) programme slowly heading towards to a completion, the thrust is now upon what we have learnt together as a research programme. In India, CARIAA has three consortia working in the different hotspots- deltas (DECCMA), mountains (Hi-AWARE) and semi-arid areas (ASSAR). Built into the programme design was the idea of the Country Table which gave a chance to the three consortia to provide a national perspective on different topics.

DECCMA, ASSAR and HI-AWARE teams at the India meeting

The India Country Table had met earlier for workshops and meetings during the life of CARIAA but the workshop on migration which was held at Kolkata on 19th January 2018 was different as it was the first time that the three consortia came together to share their findings on migration.  DECCMA-India​ (​Jadavpur University) ​hosted this one-day workshop on migration on the 19th January 2018 in Kolkata which was attended by researchers of ASSAR from Indian Institute of Human Settlements (IIHS) and Hi-AWARE from The Energy Resources Institute (TERI). Dr. K S Murali from IDRC was also present.

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Migration experts Prof S Chandrasekhar of Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR, India) ​and Dr Amina Maharjan of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD, Nepal)​ provided feedback on the findings.

For an effective Research into Use effort, the Indian Country Table decided to produce policy briefs on three topics – Hotspots (led by Hi-AWARE-TERI), Adaptation (led by ASSAR-IIHS) and Migration (led by DECCMA-JU) and then share these with relevant policy makers. While dissemination of findings is encouraged at this stage of the programme, we realised the need to use the one day workshop to gather a clearer understanding of where we stand vis-à-vis migration across the respective hotspots.

Synthesising findings across different disciplines, hotspots, and methodologies on a topic which was not envisaged to be researched upon on a same scale by all the three consortia was a challenge. Moving beyond one’s own research methodology and bringing together qualitative and quantitative findings required some discussion. The feedback and guidance from the experts helped us identify some themes which could guide us to tie the findings from the three consortia together.

The workshop was a success. How effective are workshops if they don’t make one “work”?! The team is now working on the India migration policy brief which should be available online by March 2018.

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“Climate change is triggering a migrant crisis in Vietnam” now published on The Conversation

by Alex Chapman, University of Southampton

DECCMA and ESPA Deltas researcher Dr Alex Chapman’s piece “Climate change is triggering a migrant crisis in Vietnam” has just been published on The Conversation UK. The article outlines how net out-migration of one million people from the delta – over double the national average – relates to a reduction in agricultural productivity and the effects of repeated exposure to cyclones that cause erosion of land and infrastructure.

Courtesy of The Conversation

Crucially, the article highlights that the creation of embankments, intended by the government to support in situ adaptation, actually often have the opposite effect. This is because in protecting the land, the embankments prevent “normal” flooding that replenishes soil nutrients and supports fishery-based livelihoods. Dr Chapman concludes by highlighting the importance of ensuring economic growth and adaptation supports all groups of the population to reduce a potential migrant crisis.


Gender and the Paris Agreement to the UNFCCC

By Katharine Vincent

Climate change does not affect men and women in the same way.  DECCMA recognises this and, through its research, aims to “deliver policy support to create the conditions for sustainable, gender-sensitive adaptation”.  How is DECCMA in line with the gender dimensions of climate change in international policy?

African Working Group on Gender and Climate Change side event at COP22 in Marrakech

The Paris Agreement is the latest legally-binding outcome under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – the global policy framework for addressing climate change.  The Paris Agreement has been in the spotlight again after the recent 23rd Meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC, hosted by Fiji and held in Bonn.

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Despite the existing UNFCCC commitments to gender, the Paris Agreement is, outside of the Preamble, largely gender-blind.  A set of recent papers, commissioned by the African Working Group on Gender and Climate Change with the support of IDRC, show that the term “gender” features only three times throughout the whole Paris Agreement: once in the Preamble; once in Article 7 (adaptation-focused); and once in Article 1 (capacity building-focused).  Neither the articles on mitigation nor technology transfer mention gender.

By not explicitly referencing gender there is a risk that Parties do not apply a gender-responsive approach in implementing the Agreement, and thus existing gender inequalities are reinforced.   Women typically have less control over land, lower education levels, more restricted mobility (due to their home-based roles), and poorer levels of participation in decision-making compared to men.  However gender differences are context-specific and unpacking them is essential to develop gender-responsive adaptation.

Within its household survey DECCMA has been investigating the different ways that men and women adapt to climate change in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna, Indian Bengal, Mahanadi and Volta deltas.  It is our intention to use this to support gender-responsive adaptation, as outlined in Article 7 of the Paris Agreement.  Gender-responsive adaptations are better targeted to the different needs of men and women, and thus more effective and efficient.  We are also gender-sensitive in our capacity building attempts, and thus consistent with Article 11 of the Paris Agreement.

For a detailed gender analysis of the Paris Agreement, see this background paper produced by the African Working Group on Gender and Climate Change (with support of IDRC), and an accompanying gender-responsive implementation framework.

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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“.

Senior Bangladeshi policy maker visits University of Southampton

By Alexander Chapman, University of Southampton

Professor Shamsul Alam, Senior Secretary of the General Economics Division (GED), Government of Bangladesh visited the University of Southampton (24-25 August 2017) to continue our collaboration on several large delta-focused projects.

Prof Alam visit

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The severe flooding ongoing in Northern Bangladesh, which has destroyed an estimated 640,500 homes, highlights the threat the country faces from a wetter, more extreme, future climate. As head of GED Prof. Alam oversees the development strategy in Bangladesh, including the design of over 70 large projects associated with the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100, the centrepiece of the country’s response to climate change.

In his meeting with Southampton’s Vice Chancellor & President, Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, Prof Alam emphasised the importance of designing interventions which give consideration to the complexities of the social-ecological system of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Delta (GBM). In the low-lying GBM, where interactions with upstream developments, flooding and storm surges, and rural livelihoods are constantly changing actions can often have detrimental effects if not systemically analysed. Through three ongoing multi-million pound research projects the University of Southampton and its partner The Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) aim to provide integrated systems modelling support to the government. Our work will help stakeholders, drawn from a cross section of society, understand the impacts of future policy trajectories.

On day one of the visit Prof Robert Nicholls, Principle Investigator of the ESPA Deltas project, reported on our progress evaluating two of GED’s key coastal zone projects. The team are currently calibrating the ESPA Deltas model, ΔDIEM, ready to simulate development of large-scale coastal embankments and natural buffers in the Southwest region. In March 2018 ESPA Deltas will report on the poverty, livelihood, and ecosystem service implications of various different options being looked at in the Delta Plan. Looking forward, the DECCMA project, which has also placed great emphasis on stakeholder engagement, hopes to provide insight into different migration and adaptation policy trade-offs in the coastal region. Prof Alam is Chair of the Bangladesh National Advisory Expert Group within the DECCMA project – a group of key stakeholders that provides high level direction to the project.

On day two we discussed the projects’ legacies. In October Southampton will host a further representative from GED, as well as two researchers from BUET, as we aim to build in-country capacity to run and best utilise ΔDIEM and other integrated models for policy evaluation. Both building knowledge sharing and capacity building into ongoing projects, and ensuring a pipeline of technical and research projects into the future are important objectives for GED, who have strong ambitions for poverty reduction and livelihood improvement in Bangladesh. The team spent a productive afternoon with Ken de Souza of DFID discussing how to build legacy for the current work which, it is hoped, is only a test case to demonstrate what is possible with collaboration on integrated systems research projects.

It was a pleasure to welcome Prof. Alam to Southampton, his passion for achieving ambitious poverty reduction goals in such a challenging context, and his openness to challenging conventional approaches to policy were impressive. We look forward to working together further and playing our part in building in-country capacity which will hopefully serve Bangladesh long beyond the lifetime of our research there (which, with a bit of funding luck, still has a good few years left in it!).

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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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Indian Bengal Delta State Level Stakeholder Workshop 2nd Round

indian bengal stakeholder workshop

Indian Bengal stakeholder workshop

The second State level Stakeholders’ Workshop in Indian Bengal Delta (IBD) was organized with active support from Department of Environment, Government of West Bengal on 10th November, 2016 in Kolkata.

With this workshop, the DECCMA India team tried a new strategy to ensure wholesome participation from government departments. The team approached the Department of Environment, Government of West Bengal, to send out invites for this workshop. A total of 19 Departments from the State Government Departments, and 4 Chambers of Commerce and 4 Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) were invited for the Meet through the office of the Principal Secretary, Department of Environment, Government of West Bengal. This was beneficial as the number of senior government officials attending the workshop was more than the last workshop.

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The meeting was presided by the Principal Secretary, Mr. Arnab Ray, IAS, Department of Environment, Government of West Bengal. In his inaugural speech, Mr. Ray mentioned about the West Bengal State Action Plan on Climate Change and how the Line Departments are trying to implement the plan collectively.

DECCMA’s initial findings were shared with all to give an idea how we are approaching towards our research goals. The different government departments and NGOs were invited to share their experiences relating to DECCMA’s key areas of climate change, vulnerability, migration and adaptation. While the issue of climate induced migration due to possible loss of livelihood came up a number of times, we learnt of successful adaptation instances to make alternative livelihoods, renewable energy, viable for all.

Garnering stakeholders’ opinions and feedback is crucial to DECCMA’s research as it opts for a stakeholder-driven approach. Stakeholders’ feedbacks were collected on Evaluation Criteria of Successful Adaptation and Barriers to Policy Implementation. The research team, comprising members from Jadavpur University and Centre for Environment and Development, helped the attendees by guiding how to fill the questionnaires and resolving any queries. Difficulties with the questionnaire and suggestions to simplify those were received from the stakeholders.

This stakeholder workshop gave us a day to exchange our experiences, findings, and learning to strentgthen our work.

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Out-migration and effects on women in the Mahanadi delta

DECCMA is committed to providing policy support to develop sustainable, gender-sensitive adaptations within deltaic environments. Taking a gender-sensitive approach to the research process, and ensuring that data can be analysed with a gender lens, are integral to achieving this aim.

Awareness of the importance of gender has increased as a result of global commitments, such as the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Beijing Platform for Action. The recently-announced Sustainable Development Goals includes one where the aim is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Gender equality and empowerment of women also features in the text of the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

At local level, however, gender differences are pervasive. Understanding context-specific differences in the roles of men and women, and the relations between them, is essential. Only when these are known is it possible to ensure that planned adaptations are equitable and contribute to gender equality.

In this clip, University of Southampton PhD researcher Giorgia Prati explains how she is investigating the effects of out-migration on women left behind in the Mahanadi delta, India.