Examples of adaptation to climate change in deltas

examples of adaptation

Examples of adaptation

The DECCMA WP6 partners have been recording examples of adaptation that are in practice across our study sites. These examples, from literature and observation, are being collated into Adaptation Inventories for each area – a database of current adaptation practices that are being utilised to combat climate change in deltas.

For a sneak peak at some of the types of adaptation that have been recorded, see these illustrated examples:
Mahanadi Delta, India
Volta Delta, Ghana
Ganges Brahamputra Meghna Delta, Bangladesh
Indian Bengal Delta, India

The full Adaptation Inventories will be completed later in 2016.

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.

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.

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.

Learning from DECCMA India’s District Level Stakeholder Workshop for Kendrapara, Mahanadi Delta

learning from deccma india stakeholder workshop

Learning from DECCMA India stakeholder workshop

Held on September 1, 2015 at Gupti, Rajnagar, Kendrapara District of Odisha, for Mahanadi delta, the objective of the Stakeholder Workshop was to sensitise different stakeholders about DECCMA seeking their responses and knowledge on the migration, adaptation, governance in the context of climate change which they are facing. The workshop was organised by Chilika Development Authority (research partner in the DECCMA India team) and was attended by representatives from Jadavpur University along with representation from 19 organisations including Government Departments, NGOs and SHGs.

Out of the 43 participants, 15 women and 9 men were residents of the Kendrapara district and 19 male participants had an exposure about this district and also provided insight about the neighbouring district of Jagatsinghpur which has similar bio-physical aspects as that of Kendrapara.

For better understanding and participation from the stakeholders, the deliberation was carried out in local language i.e. Odia.

A group activity was organised to ensure effective participation from the stakeholders on the issues of migration, adaptation and governance in the context of climate change.

The following are some of the key responses from the stakeholders –

Reasons for Migration:
• Lack of returns from agriculture which is attributed to the vagaries of climate change
• Environmental regulations for traditional fisherman for conservation of Olive Ridley turtles
• Limited employment opportunity in the district because industries are located in the other districts
• Erosion of the coastline and the river bank have led to migration of residents from the villages of Satabhaya, Pentha and Jaudia

Adaptations option active in the area:
• Cyclone shelter constructed by Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA)
• Height of the saline embankment has been raised
• Geo Tube embankment to prevent coastal erosion at Pentha
• Relocation of villagers from Satabhya to Bagapatia

Suggestions for Adaptation Options:
• Strengthening of saline embankment in all vulnerable areas
• Establishment of skill development training schools for men and women
• Facilitation of creek irrigation system
• Promotion of salt tolerant paddy and climate resilient variety of agricultural product

Problem/issues related to Governance
• Lack of political will
• Inadequate fund mobilisation
• Delay in programme implementation due to lack of coordination between departments
• Crop insurance has not rendered results as was expected

Gender sensitivity
• Women, children, elderly and people with special needs are not considered as target groups during planning and implementations
• In-situ adaptation options like training facilities and income generation schemes are needed
• Although a number of SHGs are active in the area, non-cooperation of financial institutions to extend loan to SHGs is also experienced

Most of the stakeholders expressed views that the issues brought forth by DECCMA are highly relevant to their daily reality. The stakeholders, both men and women alike were glad to see the gender component being effectively addressed in DECCMA. The women expressed their gratitude to DECCMA for having their voices heard.

The workshop was a success due to the active participation from the stakeholders and it was concluded with prospect of continued engagement.

An initial picture of migration & adaptation vis-à-vis environmental change in Satjelia Island of Indian Bengal Delta

Ladies discussing

Ladies discussing

On July 7, 2015 DECCMA Researchers from Jadavpur University and Centre for Environment and Development, Kolkata, India interacted with local residents of Satjelia island of Gosaba block (sub-district), of the Indian Bengal Delta for a focus group discussion (FGD). Attended by 15 men and 10 women, the discussion was conducted in local language (Bangla) in two separate male-female groups.

Prof. Sugata Hazra introduced the objectives of DECCMA. Although Satjelia does not face the risk of erosion as faced by some other islands of this delta, the responses from this FGD were important to understand other stresses experienced by the people of this region.

The following themes were discussed:

Perceived Climatic Changes: Imbalances in climatic conditions have become more prevalent since the occurrence of Cyclone Aila in 2009. These changes include unpredictable weather, untimely setting in of seasons, erratic rainfall, increase in temperature, floods and cyclones and saline water intrusion.

Effects on Livelihoods: Whiplash of environmental stress is being faced by all age groups, across all livelihoods. Farmers are worst affected followed by the fishermen, honey and crab collectors. Not only are the people shifting between livelihoods but also competing to carry those out in limited available space.

Coping and Adaptation strategies: Adaptation measures include successful cultivation of salt tolerant rice varieties. Development initiatives include introduction of solar power since the island has no electricity. The villagers are also adopting coping mechanisms to survive by constructing temporary mud embankments which are unreliable.

Migration as a response to the stresses – People are mostly migrating to the nearest urban and peri-urban areas to work in bags, hosiery manufacturing units and tanneries. Young people are migrating seeking education. A lot of women who have school education are now going to Kolkata to work as care-givers for patients.

Migration successful or unsuccessful?: Success for these people is a very grey area. Migration is ushering in economic success but the pitfalls include diseases. Family as a social unit is getting disrupted at the cost of economic gains. Exploitation at the hands of middlemen hardly makes migration successful.

Impacts of migration: Households are devoid of men, women and young people. The social structure is thus getting affected with mostly the elderly being left behind. The island is gradually becoming home to trapped population.

If you are interested please contact Sumana (sumana.ju.deccma@gmail.com) for a full version of the report

Contributions of migration to household resilience among rural rice farmers in the Mahanadi delta

Landscape in the delta

Landscape in the delta

DECCMA researcher, Dr Ellie Tighe (University of Southampton), spent six months in the Mahanadi Delta, Odisha, India undertaking qualitative research on the impact of migration in helping households in the delta cope with various shocks and stresses. Dr Tighe was accompanied by fellow University of Southampton research, Dr John Duncan who was conducting research as part of the Leverhulme Trust funded PREFUS project researching the impacts of natural disasters on the resilience of small-scale rice farmers.

Dr Tighe conducted over 50 in-depth, qualitative interviews with selected rice farming households across 10 villages in the Mahanadi Delta (35 of these households had a member migrating). These interviews explored the livelihood strategies employed by the households, the major shocks and stresses to their livelihoods, their coping strategies in general, and how migration enabled the household to cope and avoid such shocks and stresses. Themes were identified highlighting contributions of migration to household asset profiles, and subsequent resilience to climate shocks and stresses.

The findings identified four core types of migration:

  • Seasonal and cyclic migration of unskilled labour into low-value, precarious and irregular employment within minimal contribution to household resilience;
  • Long term and semi-permanent migration of low or semi-skilled labour into formal, low-wage employment with varied contribution to household resilience;
  • Permanent migration of high-skilled labour, high-value salaried employment contributing to household resilience.

The relationship between migration and household resilience to climatic shocks and stresses were embedded within the local institutional context (e.g. the effectiveness of local government institutions, quality of local social networks, availability and quality of local employment opportunities and existing household social and material asset profiles). These factors therefore have impacts on the effectiveness on migration as an adaptation strategy

Dr Tighe and her colleague’s findings will be submitted to a peer-review journal for publication shortly.

Human Migration and Environment Conference

Street scene in India

Street scene in India

On the 28th June to 1st July, members from DECCMA’s Work Package 3 participated in a conference run by the University of Durham titled Human Migration and the Environment: Futures, Politics, Invention.

Helen Adams led a session on ‘Promoting Successful Migration in Deltas: Ecosystem services, Risk and (Im)mobility’ examining migration under environmental change with a specific focus on deltas in Africa and Asia.

  • Dr Mohammad Nadiruzzaman (University of Exeter, Espa Deltas project) presented on ecosystem services in Bangladesh and the role of place attachment and livelihood patterns on migration responses following Cyclone Sidr.
  • Sara Vigil and Caroline Zickgraf (University of Liege, Helix project) presented findings on migration in the Senegal delta with a particular focus on fishing communities and trapped populations.
  • Using Cyclone Mahasen in Banglandesh as a case study, Dr David Wrathall (UNU-EHS, MDEEP project) demonstrated the value of mobile network data as an approach to monitor and assess behavioural responses of communities affected by natural disaster.
  • Olivia Dun (University of Wollongong) presented findings from a case study in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam to demonstrate how a village’s transition to shrimp farming led to salinization, subsequent out-migration, and an overall decline in community wellbeing and resilience.

The session was well attended by approximately 30 delegates. Questions posed by attendees demonstrated a strong interest in examining deltas as systems with unique environmental challenges and migration responses.

The presentations highlighted that there are certain land use and livelihood patterns common to deltas. Rapid change in land use from agriculture to shrimp is common to both the Bangladesh and Mekong delta. Artisanal fisheries and occupational immobility are common to both the Bangladesh and Senegal delta. There is reason to hypothesize, therefore, that there are broad patterns of migration that may be more consistent with deltaic systems.

However, the presentations highlighted the range of ways that migration is used to support human wellbeing in deltas. For example, in the Mekong, out migration was a result of development of shrimp aquaculture. However, in the Senegal delta there were examples of immobility and reluctance to move even for improved livelihoods. In the case of Cyclone Mahasen, migration patterns during the cyclone could be subsumed into broader patterns – there was not a cyclone-specific flow.

Overall, conference discussions showed a growing awareness within the migration and climate change research community of the influence researchers have in shaping public discourse. The example of ‘climate refugees’ as having provoked alarmism was one example provided that demonstrates the need for researchers to be careful in how we frame discussions to avoid perverse outcomes.

The conference was a valuable opportunity to build the profile of DECCMA’s research, learn from other research happening in the field, and to expand on our existing networks. Further information on the conference can be found here: