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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Land disappearing beneath your feet – environmental migration in the Sundarbans

by Colette Mortreux, Rituparna Hajra and Tuhin Ghosh (DECCMA)

Like all deltas, the islands in the Sundarbans are constantly being remoulded by environmental forces. Formation and reformation of islands results from the balance (or otherwise) between inflows of water and sediment load. When rainfall or snowmelt in the highlands is high, the greater erosive force of the river reduces the size of the islands; but when water in the river is reduced it encourages sedimentation and the growth of the islands. Sea level rise also plays a role in the dynamic environment.

Map 1: location of Ghoramara and Sagar islands in the Indian Bengal delta

Map 1: location of Ghoramara and Sagar islands in the Indian Bengal delta

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Ghoramara island, in the Hoogly estuary in the southwest of the Sundarbans (map 1), was formed in the early 20th century. Particularly high water levels submerged a larger island – Sagar (see map 1), resulting in the formation of five additional islands. It remained relatively stable when the freshwater flow from the Ganges River was fairly stable. Underground tectonic movements then led to a slight shift eastwards in the course of the Ganges. The result was that water inflow was significantly reduced and, as the dynamics in the estuary responded, Ghoramara began to be eroded. Its land area has halved in less than 40 years – from 8.5km2 in 1975, to less than 4.5km2 in 2012 (map 2).

Map 2: Shrinking area of Ghoramara island between 1975-2012

Map 2: Shrinking area of Ghoramara island between 1975-2012

Recognising the dynamism of deltas, in the late 1970s the Government of West Bengal declared Ghoramara island as ‘No man’s land’. Support for protective infrastructure, such as the construction of embankments, and services such as health, drinking water and education was stopped. As the land disappeared beneath their feet, the 5000 inhabitants of Ghoramara had no choice but to leave their homes – true environmental migrants.

Together with environmental migrants from two other islands that has been completely submerged – Lohachara and Khasimara – residents of Ghoramara were resettled in seven colonies on other islands, or on the mainland. Land Records from Sagar Block highlighted that legal titles, or pattas, were granted to the environmental migrants to Sagar Island. First phase migrants in the 1970s and 1980s, mainly from the submerged Lohachara sland, received 1.2-1.6 acres per each household. Those from Khasimara and Ghoramara tended to migrate later, in the 1990s. They were granted smaller plots (0.4 to 0.8 acres) but also received a one room house from the government schemes (Indira Awas Yojana).

Environmental migrants to Sagar Island were also supported with activities to enable them to rebuild their livelihoods. Stable embankment, fresh water ponds were constructed, and government food rations were available until they became established (including 300 gms wheat and 500 gms rice per head per week).

Figure 1b: Population Growth Trend in Sagar Island during 1971-2001 (Source: Ghosh et al. 2014)

Figure 1b: Population Growth Trend in Sagar Island during 1971-2001 (Source: Ghosh et al. 2014)

Figure 1a: Population Growth Trend in Ghoramara Island during 1971-2001 (Source: Ghosh et al. 2014)

Figure 1a: Population Growth Trend in Ghoramara Island during 1971-2001 (Source: Ghosh et al. 2014)

The problem is that the ongoing influx of migrants led to population growth in Sagar Island exceeding projections (figure 1a & b). This has placed a strain on resources. Resettled migrants now complain of degradation in their living conditions, including lack of availability of drinking water and sanitation.

Neither India’s national government nor the state government of West Bengal have resettlement and rehabilitation policies to cover displaced people, which means that there is also no planned compensation package. Population pressure and the resultant demands on resources mean it is not realistic to expect the authorities in the receiving areas to provide livelihood compensation for environmental migrants. Some are able to practice fishing, deep sea fishing, and agriculture. Others are forced to migrate again, shifting the problem elsewhere. Given that the nature of the delta means land is going to continue to disappear beneath people’s feet, a proactive approach by government is necessary to provide for environmental migrants.

 

 

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Left-behind women, left-behind wives

by Georgia Prati

The gendered impact of migration in the Mahanadi delta

Woman preparing food

Woman preparing food

Bina lives in a remote village situated on a spit of land at the crossing of the rivers Brahamani, Hansua and Kharasrota. Her husband is working in Delhi while she is looking after their two children, one boy and one girl. They live in a mud house, on the edge of the Brahamani. It is their third house, the first was lost in the river 15 years ago and the second house had to be evacuated three years ago for the same reason.

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She stares at the water flow determined to show me the exact location of their previous house when she suddenly says “It’s there! Our second house was right there. There was also some agricultural land next to it but now is all lost” her finger points towards the downriver, her tone is powerful, almost excited. I couldn’t help myself from thinking that I would have been devastated if I was talking about my house submerged by the river but, as she will explain later, environmental challenges are the norm in this area. Something you get used to since you are a child, something you learn to cope with and eventually accept as part of your everyday life. Yet, she admits to fear that the river will also take the house where she is currently living and to get nervous sometimes during flood events especially because she is alone with two children. Soon after the birth of their first child, Bina’s husband migrated to Delhi to work as plumber, a common employment for migrants from Kendrapara whose plumbing skills are notorious. He was previously working in agriculture but when they lost the last of their 4 acres land in the river, and he realised that there was no job in the locality, he decided to migrate. At the beginning Bina was living with her in laws in an extended family “I was the youngest sister in law, thus I was the primary carer and I had to ask for permission to leave the house to my mother and sister in law but it was nice to share things, prepare food and eat together”. Odisha3Few years and several economic disputes later, her husband decided to separate. Therefore, she is now living alone with her children in a one room mud house made of a tiny little entrance, a thatched roof made of rice straws, one bed and a small shrine for God’s worship. She receives around 4,000 rupees in remittances every month that she uses for the family primary needs and medical expenses, just enough for living without resorting to loans to make ends meet. Joining her husband in Delhi is not an option, it is too expensive for the whole family to live there. He only returns home once a year for 15 days. “What does it mean to be left-behind?” I ask. She looks at me and takes a deep breath “It means to depend on others and to bear the whole brunt of the responsibilities. If my children want something or they are sick I have to ask my brother to accompany me to the market or to the hospital. I often feel overburden. I can’t give my children the time and attentions they deserve”. Social norms impede women from leaving the village unaccompanied, in some cases they cannot even leave the house. For this reason, men usually take care of any activity that takes place outside the village such as shopping for groceries, going to the bank or accompany family members to the doctor. When men migrate women depend on relatives or neighbours to address these needs. I ask Bina if there is any positive in having a more active role in decision-making, especially concerning financial decisions as she manages the remittances. “The positive aspects are outnumbered by the negatives. I have to think about everything by myself, I don’t feel comfortable and I often feel very emotional. Being alone makes you foolish!” she adds “When my husband is here I feel free”.

OdishaI left Bina with many questions still floating around in my head but it was almost lunch time and she had to start cooking. She made me think about the socio-psychological impact of migration, especially when it is so gender biased. In Kendrapara, a coastal district of the Mahanadi delta, sociocultural norms restrict women’s mobility and access to paid work resulting in larger numbers of women left behind by migrating husbands, brothers and sons. Trapped in challenging environments and disadvantaged by unequal gender and power relations they brave life alone in patriarchal societies where most activities are dominated by men. This often implies having low or no access to assets and services (i.e. credit, capital, livelihoods) and a very low bargaining power. Their strength and ability to thrive and take care of the household despite the difficulties is astonishing but I was also taken aback by the psychological bearing. Although there are differences in terms of exhaustion, mobility and power, depending on factors such as their kinship, age or the household composition, an almost common trait is a sentiment of unhappiness, resignation and loneliness. Migration is accepted for the sake of the family wellbeing or, in most cases, survival but it is very rarely reported by women as an optimal choice. As I was leaving Bina’s house she took my hands and said “Even if I want my husband to return, I know that we don’t have any other choice. I want my children to study and have a better life. What can I do? I hold on and when I’m desperate I cry. I don’t share these feelings with my husband, he is there to work I don’t want to upset him”. She then went to collect the rice straw for cooking, there are still so many things to do until dusk that there is almost no time for her to think about the future.

*Bina is a fantasy name used to protect the privacy and anonymity of the respondent.

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Conducting fieldwork in a highly stratified society

 – On the use of participatory visual methods to engage with the marginalised within Indian rural communities

by Tristan Berchoux

Social issues in rural India

Inequalities are omnipresent within Indian rural communities. They are perpetuated by the system of castes, which leads to a social stratification of India’s population. Moreover, vulnerability to external stresses is also driven by gender discrimination, which follows on from the systemic marginalisation of women and the differences of power relationships that exist between men and women, especially in India. In order to get an overview of communities, social scientists have to face the challenge of getting access to the views of such marginalised groups. This blog presents some of the methods I implemented to address this issue during a research fieldwork conducted in the Mahanadi Delta in India during winter 2016.

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Methods to get the voices of marginalised groups out

As part of our work associated with the characterisation of livelihood dynamics under the threat of external stresses, we’ve conducted an in-depth fieldwork in the Mahanadi Delta in India. First, the fieldwork team interviewed members of governmental agencies, NGO representatives and academics in Bhubaneswar. Then, the team spent 6 weeks conducting Participatory Rural Appraisals (PRAs) in 10 rural communities in the Districts of Nayagarh, Puri, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara, spending 2 to 3 days in each community. Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) was chosen as the main method for creating primary data as it enables rural communities to share, enhance and analyse their knowledge of life and condition. Different activities were used to cross-check the data collected and to cover all the aspects of livelihood systems, such as wealth ranking, seasonal calendar or community mapping. The PRAs were conducted by one researcher with the help of a translator and a facilitator who were trained before conducting the activities. The researcher monitored the evolution of the PRA and provided guidance to the translator and facilitator.

Implementing PRA in a class and gender-based structure

Focus groups conducted for each PRA activity were purposely held separately between men and women to capture gender differences and to give women, who suffer from a lack of recognition in India, the opportunity to express their opinions and issues. It enabled the women to express their opinions in an environment free from the power pressure of men, focus groups being conducted by a female translator. In some communities, implementing such an approach raised discussions amongst men, many arguing that “women should not be consulted because they don’t know anything”. This example of the social pressure existing between genders was also felt between castes and we also conducted PRAs with Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) separately. This enabled us to gain access to the opinions of women and socially marginalised groups.

Photovoice to increase participation during PRAs

However, we were also confronted to the ‘habitus’ of social stratification: even with homogenous groups of socially marginalised groups (women, SCs/STs), it appeared to be sometimes difficult to animate the focus group and to co-create the primary data. This lack of participation can be explained by the fact that such groups cannot express their opinions within the community and this pressure remains during focus groups. In order to get round this issue, we decided to add another activity during the PRAs. This activity, called photovoice (www.photovoice.org), is a participatory visual method that uses photography to initiate discussion within the focus groups. After a one-hour training course and the identification of a theme (“household and community assets that are important for their livelihoods), participants were given a camera each for two days so they could document the theme. After the two days, we met in a focus group to review the photos and discuss them. This method was a real success and marginalised participants (women, SCs/STs) got very involved. It led to very interesting discussions that had not been tackled within the previous activities and was a successful way to get the opinions of such groups out.

Conclusion

As a conclusion, it is necessary to extend the range of methods used in social sciences in order to capture the diversity of opinions that exist across the different social stratum within communities. As an example, we successfully used the visual method Photovoice to initiate discussion and get the opinion of marginalised groups such as women and scheduled castes and tribes. The challenge now is to integrate such methods in vulnerability assessment and to take such groups into account in the design of public policies.

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Motivations and challenges of integrating local peoples views into a deterministic model

by Gregory Cooper

From predicting traffic to budgeting monthly expenses, mental models inform everyday decisions by relating possible conditions (e.g. number of cars) to expected outputs (e.g. delay length). As with computational models, mental models are continuously updated as new information comes to light. Consequently, no two perceptions of the world are the same, shaped by individual experiences of interpersonal relationships, culture and the environment around us.

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Mental models have played important roles in the history of Chilika: a 1000 km2 coastal lagoon in the Mahanadi delta, India. For instance, it was hoped that the legalisation of shrimp aquaculture in 1991 would bring economic prosperity by diversifying local livelihoods and boosting annual fishery production. Instead, benefits were reaped by non-native aquaculture entrepreneurs, triggering cultural and socio-economic instability. The institutional settings soon adjusted, largely due to local pressures and scientific contributions of the newly formed Chilika Development Authority (CDA), leading to the banning of shrimp aquaculture in 2001.
Mental models also prompted studies of Chilika’s sediment dynamics in the 1990s, resulting in the new tidal outlet which has since increased fishery productivity 10-fold. Going forward, a balance exists between the institutional-led discouragement of juvenile catch and the desires of some fishers to maximise hauls.
I (very excitedly) travelled to Chilika in early 2016, hoping that both my mental and system dynamics model (SDM) would benefit from exposure to the system and its people. Until February 2016, my SDM was projecting future fishery production from empirical data and published work only. Interviews could tap into decades of experience working, living and ‘dancing’ with the system, as the pioneering system dynamicists Donella Meadows would say. I concentrated on how Chilika’s fishers, scientists and governors perceive the causes of the 1990s collapse, the subsequent recovery and the lagoon’s future. I also hoped the insights would help model evaluation and provide governance scenarios for simulation.
In practice, various barriers exist to integrating qualitative data into SDMs. For example, SDMs assume lumped populations making the same decisions, different to agent-based modelling which can simulate individual decisions. Yet workarounds exist, like disaggregating populations and/or estimating proportions making a decision for a given condition. For example, the former principle splits Chilika’s fishers into traditional and motorised fleets, associated with different fishing schedules and catch capacities; the latter workaround estimates the proportion of traditional fishers purchasing motorised boats for a given average income.
Furthermore, interviews may provide a quantity of opinions which cannot all be incorporated into the model’s finite structure. Therefore, it is useful to consider the rationale bounds of each stakeholder to understand how each mental model is shaped. Regional scientific experts may possess holistic system understanding, whilst fishers live and breathe the conditions important to their activities. Prior to the interviews, I was debating spatially disaggregating the fisher population into northern, central, southern and outer channel fleets. But from the fisher interviews I learnt northern sector fishers commute south to exploit the relatively abundant fish stock, dispelling my preconceived idea that fishers rigidly stick to their locality.
Overall, the field visit exposed me to different qualitative insights not acquirable from my desk. Understanding that traditional fishing communities may collectively begin using motorised boats when socio-economically favourable has highlighted how fishers adapt to intensify practices. Paradoxically, fishers exhibited environmental stewardship during the 1990s collapse by limiting their days fished, doing their bit to calm extraction stresses.
And finally, discussions with state and district level policymakers helped design feasible management approaches to test within the model (e.g. continued ecological restoration, bans, alternative livelihoods). The issue of policy implementation and adherence was continuously stressed, meaning any policies simulated in the SDM must be framed as ‘if all fishers complied with regulations, the resulting dynamics may be as follows…’, which is important for model design and scope. A big thank you to all who shared their mental models with me!

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DECCMA report and take home messages from the TransRe conference

by Ricardo Safra de Campos, Helen Adams, Attila Lazar

The TransRe conference (Connecting the Dots: Migration. Environment. Resilience, 29 – 30 September 2016, Bonn, Germany) was organised to mark the half-way point in the TransRe project: Building resilience through translocality. Climate change, migration and social resilience of rural communities in Thailand. Over 60 participants from various countries engaged in highly stimulating debates. A really interesting range of research on the links between climate change migration and resilience were presented from multiple perspectives. The range of presentations included talks on meta-theoretical considerations, empirical evidence, governance and policies, methodological approaches and linkages between migration and changes in socio-ecological systems. In the conference opening speech, Koko Warner, from the UN Climate Change secretariat (UNFCCC), highlighted the need to expand the discussion on migration, adaptation, environmental change, and social resilience beyond the confines of academia given the wider relevance of these topics.

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Three DECCMA researchers presented their ongoing work at the conference. Helen Adams (King’s College London) called for a closer examination of the definition of success when thinking about the role of migration as an adaptation to climate change. Ricardo Safra de Campos (University of Exeter) presented initial findings on the mutually beneficial relationship between adaptation and migration intensity at household level. Attila Lazar (University of Southampton) colleagues introduced the conceptual design of the innovative and comprehensive approach taken by DECCMA to understanding migration and adaptation employing Bayesian Belief Network model. In addition to the oral presentations, Tuhin Ghosh (Jadavpur University) submitted a poster on the characteristics of migration in climate hotspots focusing on Satjelia island in the Indian Sundarban Delta.

The conference showed how well placed the DECCMA project is to contribute to current debates on migration, adaptation and climate change. Several of the talks emphasized the need to consider spatial and temporal scales, consider migration as one of many processes ongoing as a result of wider processes of development, and to, naturally, consider the multiple sites of migration. DECCMA by definition of its sending area and receiving area surveys takes a translocal approach. As such there are opportunities for collaboration and synergy. There are other international projects on migration – TransRe itself, and others such as Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Evidence for Policy (MECLEP) at the University of Liege.

The perspective of translocality propels the environment-migration nexus debate forward to explicitly recognise the complexity and richness of mobile human existence, and move beyond a focus of linear migration trajectories of people escaping negative climate change impacts. Several presenters suggested that upcoming studies should also focus on both immobile and trapped populations. Other important discussions on conceptual challenges around successful migration, and migration as adaptation were also part of the agenda of the conference. More specifically, the talks, and especially the key note from Jonathan Rigg, highlighted the need to keep migration as one of the many socioeconomic and demographic transformations that are occurring in rural environments, and which tie to wider development debates. These themes will continue to be investigated by DECCMA as the project advances.

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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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Ghanaian DECCMA Stakeholder meet in Accra

On the 20th of October 2016, the DECCMA Ghana Team held a one-day Workshop for National Level Stakeholders at the Kofi Anan ICT Centre in Accra. A total of 52 participants made up of policy makers and technical experts from the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) with representation from Parliament and the Attorney General’s Department attended the workshop aimed at validating the Governance Analysis Report of the DECCMA Work Package 6.

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ghanaian stakeholder meet

Prof. Samuel Codjoe

In a clear departure from the usual mode of organising workshops, a skit was performed by actors from the University of Ghana’s School of Performing Arts to introduce participants to the workshop as well as outline the objectives of the DECCMA project. Professor Samuel Codjoe, the DECCMA Ghana PI welcomed participants to the workshop in a brief statement. A brief statement was also delivered by Mrs. Joy Poane, the Monitoring Officer of the Ghana Office of the International Organisation of Migration (IOM).

The increasing vulnerabilities of the deltaic areas was reiterated using the drone footage in combination with a short presentation. Similar to the District level engagement, the participants at the Workshop brainstormed on terminologies related to maladaptation and successful adaptation. Stakeholders at the meeting also evaluated the Barriers to implementation and the Adaptation Pathways for the Delta. The barriers to the implementation of policies as well as the successful adaptation surveys were also administered.

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