Beekeeping and crab fattening-Alternative livelihoods in the Indian Bengal delta

by Sumana Banerjee, Tuhin Ghosh and Shruti Thakur

Environmental change in the Indian Bengal delta is making traditional livelihoods, such as agriculture fishing, increasingly challenging. Other economic activities, such as going to the forest to collect crabs and honey, puts people at risk of tiger attacks. In a new photo story, Sumana Banerjee, Tuhin Ghosh and Shruti Thakur elaborate how beekeeping and crab fattening are providing alternative livelihood opportunities.

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.

What is life like in the Indian Bengal delta? New video clip of recent fieldwork

In June 2018 a group of students from the University of Southampton and the DECCMA India team visited Dulki, a village within the Indian Bengal delta, to investigate migration and adaptation and their opportunities and challenges. This short video clip provides insights into the nature of livelihoods in Dulki, how they are affected by climate and environmental change, and how they respond.

The aftermath of Aila-The lingering effects of a tropical cyclone in the Indian Bengal delta

by Katharine Vincent and Sumana Banerjee

When a tropical cyclone hits, the loss of life and destruction of land and property is immediately evident. But the effects of such extreme weather events can endure for years. In a new photostory  “THE AFTERMATH OF AILA. The lingering effects of a tropical cyclone in the Indian Bengal delta”, Katharine Vincent and Sumana Banerjee reflect on how, nearly a decade after it occurred, cyclone Aila still has an impact on the lives and livelihoods of island residents in the Indian Bengal delta.

Dulki village, Gosaba block, Indian Bengal delta (photo: Katharine Vincent)

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.

5 new DECCMA papers published in Science of the Total Environment journal

Six papers arising out of DECCMA climate impact and water modelling research have just been published in the journal Science of the Total Environment. Authors come from the University of Southampton, University of Oxford, UK Met Office, Jadavpur UniversityPlymouth Marine Laboratory and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.

Finding Thanos (from Avengers: Infinity War) in a climate change research project

by Sumana Banerjee

Bitten by the Marvel bug, I wasted no time to catch a showing of Avengers: Infinity War before the spoilers started filling my social media timelines. This post obviously does not contain any spoilers-but rather shares how a cool movie like Avengers made my brain think of some research project oriented lessons.

(photo: Lylesmoviefiles.com)

Working for DECCMA has trained me to be attuned to the mention of themes related to environmental change, sustainability, and resource use. So when Thanos shared his grand vision of salvaging the universe from overpopulation which leads to resource scarcity, I was all ears for this Marvel villain. The SDGs started flashing in my mind as some could be realised by his grand vision (after some thought I feel at least these would apply – 2 for Zero Hunger, 12 for Responsible Consumption and Production and 13 for Climate Action).  Before I could finish counting the SDGs, Thanos revealed his strategy to implement his vision, which was to kill half the universe! It goes without saying that our proposed strategies in DECCMA are very different to his…

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This was clearly playing on my mind, and it was much later when it struck me that I have encountered glimpses of Thanos in people when it comes to teamwork and the linkages between grand visions and implementation plans. I surely do not mean that the team members wanted to kill off half the universe-or the team for that matter. But in the real world of research projects, teams must manage competing priorities, worldviews and disciplinary training of their members in order to build consensus on how to achieve common goals. In other words – the grand vision is achieved by collectively defining the implementation plan.

Effective teamwork and leadership often have the “five C’s” where character, competency, chemistry, compatible vision, and capacity feature. All these C’s are integral to any kind of teamwork and external efforts can improve these, with the exception of character.  For a change in character, it has to be internally-motivated and enabled. Since research teams often have young researchers, it may be worthwhile to share good practices which can help build the character necessary for effective (and enjoyable!) teamwork. It is important for leaders and senior researchers to instill in the young members the importance of the following –

Communication

Talking, and more importantly listening, will help in exchange of perspectives, problem-solving, and generation of new ideas. Scheduling formal or informal meetings, depending on the work culture, amongst researchers can facilitate better work. As researchers it is important to understand that the concept of “hearing all voices” and gender sensitivity should not be limited to talking to more women in a stakeholder workshop. Just like charity begins at home, it is important to apply these principles in the team environment, providing a space that welcomes and actively encourages all voices within the team irrespective of sex, seniority, background and profile.

Acknowledgement

It is a good practice to acknowledge the support of anyone who has positively contributed to help your work. Academic papers are the core currency of research careers, and authorship should reflect contributions. In DECCMA we follow Vancouver rules, which state that people should only be named as authors when they have contributed substantively to the conceptualisation and research design or execution and at least some part to the writing.  Vancouver rules partly address implicit norms in some research environments, where there is an expectation that being senior in age and position warrants being named as an author, regardless of (lack of) contribution.  It may be good to keep in mind that naming authors in outputs is not akin to signing a greetings card where everybody’s name should be there!  Instead acknowledgements are there to appreciate efforts that enabled the work to happen without direct inputs – for example funders are usually (gratefully) acknowledged.

Publications are the end of a research process in which acknowledgement is also important, and often overlooked. For example it is good practice to acknowledge the support of people who enabled fieldwork and research to take place – which includes those involved in organisation as well as those interviewees and survey participants that provided the data to analyse.  It is also important to understand the difference between support and contribution.

Dealing with disappointment

Working in teams often involves many members applying to the same conferences but not all who applied get selected. In such cases, researchers should put aside any individual disappointment and rather be glad for the recognition that comes from being part of the team whose research is profiled.

Addressing Differences

Teams are composed of people with different backgrounds and, increasingly, from different countries – such that interdisciplinary teams are often an eclectic mix. This creates exciting opportunities for appreciating different worldviews and expertise.  However, the flip side of this is that conflicts can arise relating to the respective norms and behaviours that are constructed in different contexts. It should always be kept in mind that everybody has something to offer and the more we try to learn from the positives, the more we grow as individuals. If a conflict over an issue carries on, it is best to let it rest for a while and then come back to it with a fresh perspective.

Without this getting too preachy, I would like to end this on a positive note. Thanos had concerns which echo the reality of our current world, but what made him the bad guy was his proposed way of implementing his vision, not the vision itself. The thought of killing half the universe just because he acquired the power was not only autocratic and heinous also the easiest thing to do. How I wish Peter Parker could tell him – “With great power comes great responsibilities.” In research teams we have the opportunity (and responsibility) to come up with more effective implementation plans for the same vision of a better world.

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New ESPA open access book available “Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation: Trade-offs and Governance”

The Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme has just released a book – “Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation. Trade-offs and Governance”. It synthesises the headline messages from the 9 year duration ESPA programme and over 120 products that were funded within it.

Particularly timely in light of the 17 ambitious Sustainable Development Goals, the book provides  evidence to address the questions at the heart of ecosystems and wellbeing research. It reviews the impacts of ongoing drivers of change and presents new ways to achieve sustainable wellbeing, equity, diversity, and resilience. The authors evaluate the potential solutions that can be offered by carefully-designed conservation projects, payment schemes, and novel governance approaches across scales – from local to national and international – highlighting trade offs and governance systems to achieve sustainable development.

The entire book is open access, and includes a chapter by DECCMA Co-PI Professor Neil Adger on Interactions of migration and population dynamics with ecosystem services.

DECCMA team members reflect on the experience of working in an international and multi-disciplinary consortium

by Katharine Vincent

The DECCMA team comprises an international, multi-disciplinary consortium all working together to achieve the common goal of evaluating migration as an adaptation in the context of climate change in deltas. In this short clip we outline some of the highlights and challenges of working as part of a consortium, and some lessons learned for future consortium projects.

New short film-Sustainable livelihoods in the Volta delta, Ghana

by Katharine Vincent

The Volta delta in Ghana is a challenging place to live. Since the construction of the Volta dam at Akosombo, the regulation of downstream river flows have affected fish spawning and migration patterns, and the reduced likelihood of flooding affects the suitability of floodplain land for agriculture. Mangrove cultivation and harvesting is being promoted by the government as a sustainable livelihood for delta inhabitants. The wood is traded, used for construction, and popular for smoking fish. A new short film, produced by Klaus Wohlmann with the DECCMA team, outlines this activity.

Mangrove forestry (photo: Klaus Wohlmann)