DECCMA Bangladesh PI leads seminar on how sediment load affects the nature of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna delta

by Institute of Water and Flood Management

DECCMA PI Professor Munsur Rahman led a seminar on ‘Recent sediment flux and its implications for river and delta management in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna system’ on 3rd April at the Institute of Water and Flood Management (IWFM) at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.

Sediment flux is the mechanism that creates the nature of a delta, and thus is essential for river and delta management. The physical sustainability of the river and delta environment is very  sensitive to the volume of water and sediment that arrives from rivers upstream. In most of the planning documents in Bangladesh, the total sediment flux is assumed to be a constant value of around 1 billion tones per year. Recent models shows that, under climate change, there is likely to be an increase in sediment flux. However, this contradicts historical time series data, that shows a decreasing trend of sedimentation.

Courtesy of the Institute of Water and Flood Management

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Studies on the total sediment load in the Ganges and the Brahmaputra show that the quantity transferred along the bed of the river is decreasing more rapidly than the sediment that is suspended within the water. A reduction in sediment within the system reduces the scope for  offsetting future sea level rise, and thus has implications for subsidence and loss of land.

Recognising the importance of sediment quantity and flows in thus essential to manage the delta. The seminar concluded by emphasising the need for discussion and negotiation on sediment flux and water sharing to reduce the effect of dams upstream within Bangladesh and neighbouring countries. Along with the faculty members of IWFM guests from relevant organisations were also present, including Bangladesh Water Development Board, the Directorate of Bangladesh Haor and Wetland Division, Local Government Engineering Department, Centre for Environmental and Geographic Information Systems and the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority.

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DECCMA and HI-AWARE jointly convene stakeholder workshop with WARPO to disseminate Bangladesh research findings

by Saiful Alam

A joint stakeholder workshop was arranged by DECCMA and HI-AWARE to present Bangladesh research findings. The meeting took place at the Water Resources Planning Organisation (WARPO) in Dhaka on 17th January 2018. Attendees included the Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Forest and the Environment, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Planning, Housing Authority, Local Government Division, and UNDP.

DECCMA Bangladesh Principal Investigator, Professor Munsur Rahman, and Co-Principal Investigator, Professor Mashfiqus Salehin, made a joint keynote presentation on ‘Adaptation and Migration in GBM Delta, Bangladesh’. HI-AWARE Bangladesh Principal Investigator, Md. Abu Syed, made a keynote presentation on ‘Climate resilience and adaptation in Teesta sub-Basin of Brahmaputra Basin’.

Stakeholders provided inputs to highlight their particular areas of interest in DECCMA findings. Among the key themes were an understanding of the reasons for migration, quantifying negative and positive impacts, and projections for the future-to add to those already outlined in the Delta Plan 2100. There was also interest in modelling the impact of climate change on the economy, as is being undertaken within DECCMA, led by the Bc3 Basque Centre for Climate Change, and supporting the use of models at local (upazila) level.

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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Trees and tender-heartedness in Borguna

by Shihab

Nowadays, migration and climate change are talked about regularly. When a person goes from one place to another, this is called migration.  My long dream was to work for the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) and these days have been some of the greatest of my life.  During the field trip, as a supervisor, my main task was to supervise and monitor the field.

First of all, RMMRU selected a team which consisted of seven members (including myself).  My first trip was to Assassuni in the Satkhira Districts.  After a long journey, we arrived but when we disembarked from the bus, we faced different types of problems that came one after another. Due to the strong bond of my team, we overcame all the problems.  Every member of the team was kind and our sophisticated thinking allowed us to handle any type of problem easily.  After Assassuni, we went to Kaligong in Satkhira which was an excellent area.  After completing our work in Kaligong, we reached Satkhira Sadar.

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As usual, we awoke early in the morning and after breakfast went to the field but didn’t find anyone.  After searching, we came to the conclusion that there was a listing problem.  So, we came back to Dhaka with the work unfinished.  After four days rest, we went to Borguna which was very enjoyable compared to the other areas.  Every village was covered with trees and informants were so friendly.  Right now we miss those people.  That was the story of two fields, they are Hoglapasha and Borguna Sadar.  Gendamara was a very different field and also difficult.  I have never seen a village as large.  There were no transport systems in the whole village and villagers are used to walking, although we are not!  We worked easily and were enthusiastic about being there.  After completing the Taltoli field, we went to Patuakhali Kalapara, after which we got a one day vacation, which we used to visit Kuakata where you can watch the sunset and sunrise.  We saw some nice nature and water.  In this same way we finished our Patuakhali Sadar and Mirjagong field.  Banajora Boufol in Patuakhali was so different from the other places.  We encountered some folks who held strong views and this created some difficulties. Still, we enjoyed a full moonlit night with the river blows which was amazing. After four days rest, we prepared to go to a new field in Chandpur, which is known for being abundant with fish.  Above all, I like to describe my happy moments, however, I think I hold this memory in the corner of my heart.  Thanks to RMMRU for this excellent trip, I eagerly await the next opportunity.

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