DECCMA report and take home from the Resilience 2017 conference

by Ricardo Safra de Campos

DECCMA members Dr Anwara Begum (BIDS, Bangladesh) and Dr Ricardo Safra de Campos (University of Exeter, UK), pictured below, attended the fourth Resilience Conference “Resilience Frontiers for Global Sustainability”, held in Stockholm, Sweden, from 20-23 August 2017. Themes such as global tele-connectivity, power, place, practice, perspective-taking and other social aspects were highlighted as key factors for a “new renaissance” of transformation towards resilience. The role of spatial and translocal connections were addressed in two sessions dedicated to population movements and their outcomes.

Ricardo + Anwara

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Dr Anwara Begum (pictured below) presented the paper Risks of involuntary resettlement initiatives in Bangladesh in the session “Resettlement as Transformation” proposed by DECCMA member Helen Adams (UCL, UK) and chaired by Jennifer Hodbod. The focus of the session was on involuntary resettlements as deliberate actions, often decided upon by a few external actors, and implemented for positive objectives but with unpredictable outcomes, representing a microcosm to understand trade-offs and uncertainties in transformation. Other speakers in the session were Sophie Blackburn (King’s College London) presenting Challenges of ‘deliberate transformation’: Lessons from post-tsunami resettlement in the Andaman Islands, South India; and Christopher Lyon (University of Dundee) presenting Resettlement as refugia under extreme environmental change scenarios.

Anwara Begum

Based on fieldwork findings and literature analysis, Anwara’s talk focused on the challenges faced by resettled communities in Bangladesh due to limited infrastructure, social services, or support for livelihoods transition provided by formal government backed resettlement projects. Of the interviewed households in her research, many of those who received resettlement support were unsatisfied. More than 75 per cent of people wanted to return to their ancestral home because of their desire to reconnect with their sense of community and previous livelihoods. There was no consensus on the efficacy of resettlement as a policy, particularly for women and children. Some respondents suggested that greater effort should be placed on community-based adaptation instead.

DECCMA also participated in a session organised by the TransRe Project: “Mobility, translocality and the resilience of socio-ecological systems: Exploring concepts and empirical evidence.” Migration and the various dimensions of population movement was a topic present in many sessions of the conference, yet it was discussed in a topical manner as a disturbing factor external to social-ecological systems rather than as a field of resilience research in its own right. How migration could be addressed from a resilience perspective was discussed by three presenters.

First, Sabine Henry (University of Namur, Belgium) presented insights from recent research on the role of migration for the left-behind rural communities in Ecuador. Second, Till Rockenbauch (University of Bonn, TransRe-Project, Germany) presented conceptual considerations and methodological approaches for addressing the role of translocal social networks vis-à-vis different capacities of resilience. Third, I presented the conceptual framework of DECCMA’s integrative model developed by Attila Lazar in Work Package 5. My talk provided insights into the modelling of household decisions under development in collaboration with Attila Lazar and Helen Adams using a Bayesian Belief Networks approach.

The audience discussed themes around policy and practical outcomes and the relationship between migration and resilience. The speakers debated the situation of migrants at destination areas including employment, housing and living conditions that allow or deny migrants to send remittances and decrease their level of vulnerability. The (in)ability of household members in sending areas to transform financial and social remittances into adaptive and transformative capacities was also discussed by both audience and panelists. The session was productive as it underlined the diversity of concepts, approaches and major challenges to be addressed by future research. It remains to be seen whether the various forms of population movements will become a more integral part of resilience and transformation research in the future.

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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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Migration & Adaptation: A Short Story of Khulna & Jessore

by Md. Niaz Murshed

Khulna is the third largest city in Bangladesh.  It is situated on the banks of the Bhairab and Rupsha rivers. It is also the centre point of the Khulna division. Khulna is also known for its port. This division consisted of ten districts and it is the gateway to the world’s largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans.  Mangla is home to an important port for Southwest Bangladesh.  It has fabulous natural beauty but the lifestyle is not so easy here: drought, cyclone and other weather events are a regular phenomenon.  With each day, the risks increase. The local people have to fight for water on a regular basis. Khulna is also in a dangerous point because of climate change. Experts think that the future will be worse than the present.

image001 Phultola is a village in Batiaghata Upazilla near Pashur river. Most of the population is educated. Some people are living in other cities because of their studies and employment, and some are living abroad. People are mainly involved with agriculture. They are producing seasonal fruits and crops including paddy, daal, several vegetables, etc. Most of the houses are made of wood and leaves. Some people are engaged with prawn cultivation. Drought and cyclone are the main natural disasters here. Because of the saltiness in the soil, agriculture is becoming increasingly difficult.

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Saral Ward of Paikgacha Upazilla is situated in the middle of the Upazilla and most of the people are permanent residents. They are mainly engaged with business, though some people are involved with prawn cultivation.

The devastating form of nature can be seen from Amurkata , a village of Soladana Union of Paikgacha. It is situated near the river, Shibsha. The village has poor communication systems. Van, motorcycle and various local vehicles are the main medium for transport.  For 2 pots of water, village women have to go three or four kilometres away from the village.  They don’t have proper drinking water or water for daily use. Most of the people work outside of the village.  Most of them go to Gopalganj or Khulna district for a job. During cultivation, men and women work together in the field.  Amurkata has huge lakes for prawns.  Those who have smaller fields cultivate prawns and crabs. Due to saltiness in the water, they do not have any other option for cultivation. Houses are made of several leaves and soil. Because of the cyclones, there is a school which can also be used as a cyclone centre.

image003Our second place was Jessore beside Kapataksha river which is linked to the poet Michael Madhushudan Dutta.  Jessore is one of the districts of Khulna and one of the oldest cities. It has eight Upazillas. During the British Raj period, Jessore was a “mahakuma”.
Kotoali, Bagharpara , Keshobpur and Manirampur were our workplaces. Bahadurpur of Kotoali Upazila had less risks. Sekandardarpur of Bagharpara and Panjia of Keshobpur are less affected by natural disasters. Only Diganga of Manirampur has the risk of flood, but it is not because of nature, it is because of drainage problems.

After observation on four Upazillas of Jessore we found that people are mainly involved with agriculture but they work in their own fields with different vegetables, paddy, mustard, daal and wheat. They produce fruit for a commercial purpose.

To have a good lifestyle, people work in the capital city, their own divisional city or abroad. For higher education many people live in cities.

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Work with RMMRU and DECCMA: seeing a new side of Bangladesh and feeling a deeper connection to the country as a whole

by Rabeya Bosri Chandni, Research Assistant

While working at RMMRU, it was easy to forget I was in an office. Everyone is very cordial there. Colleagues are often introduced as “senior friends.”

image001We worked in Khulna, Jessore, and Bagerhat Districts. Among the various field-sites we worked at, I remember two names especially – Moralganj and Amurkata. In my opinion, the situation in Amurkata indicates the unequal development that occurs across Bangladesh. Many essential facilities seem to be lacking or in need of improvement. Similarly, people in Moralgonj face difficulties in accessing clean water, while also being vulnerable to getting trapped in the oppressive loan-interest cycle.

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These experiences have certainly impacted my professional life, but they have also made an impression upon my personal life. The culture of teamwork that I encountered in the work especially, has influenced me in a personal way.  Also, I feel even more connected to my identity as a Bangladeshi citizen because of my participation in this work.

Through this work, I have seen my country in a new face, which is not gorgeous and not well-developed.  It is, I think, a sleeping beauty.  The visits to various Upzillas of Bangladesh have created a feeling of real citizenship for me. Living in a particular area gives a person a particular sense of identity, of belonging. However, I feel as if this fieldwork experience has enabled me to go beyond my Dhaka and Gazipur identities, so that I now feel that the whole country is my place.
I would like to thank the DECCMA project and all of my colleagues at RMMRU – I’m grateful that I had the chance to work with them, and learn so many things from them.

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Senior Bangladeshi policy maker visits University of Southampton

By Alexander Chapman, University of Southampton

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

Prof Alam visit

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

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

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

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

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

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“Working as a Project Manager makes me feel like The Dark Knight who is a silent guardian and a watchful protector” – on simplifying research messages about climate change, adaptation and migration in deltas

By Sumana Banerjee, Jadavpur University

One of CARIAA’s research objectives is to “build new capacities by strengthening expertise among researchers, policymakers, and practitioners”. Ensuring that our research informs policy and practice is thus a critical component of what we do. Communicating their findings to audiences beyond their peers is often a novel idea for academics and here Sumana Banerjee, DECCMA’s project manager for India,  reflects on some of her experiences in trying to support this. 

Speaking from my experience of working closely with researchers, I realised that they find it difficult to translate research concerns or findings to outputs which can be easily read by stakeholders. They are keener to write for an academic journal than for the project’s blog. I feel this has to do with the way researchers are trained, where skill to write dissertations, thesis, and academic papers is stressed upon. Internet has changed our lives and it often made me wonder if schools could teach on how to communicate to different audiences: blog-writing as well as essay writing, email writing alongside letter writing, and micro-blogging for Twitter in addition to precis writing. This would not only make lessons more exciting but also help the students in their professional lives later on.

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Working in the capacity of a Project Manager makes me feel like The Dark Knight who is a silent guardian and a watchful protector. Just like a good guardian, I find myself “guarding” my research team from questions such as “what is this supposed to mean?”, “what do you aim to do with you research” by answering them myself simply and without confusing jargon.

I often write blog posts for the project website based on the researchers’ experiences at training workshops or their findings. Hailing from a non-science background, I initially found it difficult to talk about work with my team and I could not see myself writing about their scientific findings and experiences.

The one thing that I had to do was ask questions to learn more and ensure I understood the research findings myself. My colleagues were patient and kind enough to answer my questions or discuss my interpretations.

Soon I was able to simplify jargon into understandable phrases – “5m contoured areas” became “areas within 5m of height from mean sea level”; “negative net migration” became “more people leaving than entering (In-migration< Out-migration)”.

It is DECCMA’s policy for researchers to write a blog post after engaging in fieldwork, or attending a conference or workshop.  When I would request researchers to submit a blog post it would often be met with displeasure, or the output would be a highly technical one, fit to be published in an academic journal.

I used to edit the articles they submitted by asking questions (again!) and checking if I interpreted the technical bits correctly. Then I planned to make my life a tad easier by sharing a questionnaire with them which would coax them to provide brief and simple answers. With specified word limits and seeking answers in only certain areas which would be relatable by all, this simplified the writing process for the researchers and me. They did not have to think and write from scratch to suit a blog audience and I did not have to get stuck at every second sentence and ask questions to produce a simple write up.

Going by Plato’s concept of Art being twice removed from reality, I am often concerned while simplifying write-ups if I have over-simplified and distorted the message or not communicated it accessibly for a non-expert. As a cross-checking process I use a method which my dad used to employ on me before my exams, which I hated back then but value so much now.

My dad used to come around and ask me if I am all set for the exams and start chatting with me. I expected him to ask me questions to test my preparedness but he never asked questions and instead asked me to “teach” him what I learnt. Every time I tried sharing a well-memorised definition, he would discourage me and ask me to explain it to him as he found the definitions too difficult. I used to get annoyed that, in spite of knowing the concepts, he pretended not to know anything and wasted my time before an exam!

I feel so grateful to him for encouraging me to explain things in my own words  with examples and funny imaginary stories. Now, I use this method after writing a simplified piece. I share what I have understood and written in the form of a short narrative with the researchers and if they feel I have captured what they tried telling, half my job is done. Their approval is a nod that I have not distorted the message.

The next thing that I do is give the article a good read – as a non-expert if I feel comfortable reading the article and understanding the message, I feel convinced that a stakeholder would do too. Working in a research team, I have been somewhat inducted into their world of jargon and at times I fear (yes, it is fear!) that unknowingly I would use or retain some of the jargon and it would not strike me as “unrelatable”! As a double check against this, I narrate a gist of it to my husband who is in advertising and quite removed from research or academia. If he understands what I say, I feel happy that it will be an easy read.

This communication of research messages has been a learn-as-you-go experience for me and I find this interesting. This learning would not have been possible without the patience of the people who endured my questions and narrations. My quest to understand and simplify research messages involves informal chats and asking a lot of questions. I often felt hesitant to ask questions that I might be bothering but I decided to stick to what a wise person once told me –

“It is better to ask questions and do the right things than not ask questions and do the wrong things.”

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DECCMA 7th Consortium Meeting held in Ghana

By Prosper Adiku and Gertrude Domfeh

The DEltas, vulnerability and Climate Change: Migration and Adaptation (DECCMA) project held its 7th Consortium meeting in Ghana on Sunday July 2, 2017 at The Royal Senchi Hotel. DECCMA is a research consortium of five institutions from Africa, Asia and Europe conducting a comparative research on climate related vulnerabilities in four major deltas namely the Mahanadi and Indian Bengal Deltas (India), the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta (Bangladesh) and the Volta Delta (Ghana) and is jointly funded by International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). Launched in May 2014, the DECCMA research is being undertaken in nine districts within the Volta delta in Ghana (South Tongu, Ada East, North Tongu, Keta Municipal, Ada West, Ketu South, Central Tongu, Ketu North and Ningo Prampram) under the leadership of the Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS) of the University of Ghana, Legon.

Kwasi and MESTI

(Image: Honourable Professor Kwabena Boateng, Minister for Environment, Science Technology and Innovation & Prof Kwasi Appeaning Addo)

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Special guests at the opening of the four-day meeting included the Minister for Environment, Science Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Honourable Professor Kwabena Boateng, the Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana, H. E. High Commissioner Heather Cameron and the members and Chair of the National Experts Advisory Group (NEAG) of DECCMA Ghana, Hon. Clement Kofi Humado .

In his welcome statement, the Principal Investigator of the Ghana project team and Director of RIPS, Professor Samuel Nii Ardey Codjoe indicated that the Institute has been involved in a number of headline research activities, and has contributed to national activities including the Nationally Determined Contributions (iNDCs) now the Ghana Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Professor Kwasi Appeaning Addo, the head of Department of the Marine and Fisheries Sciences and the Co-PI of DECCMA Ghana elaborated on the role of the project in managing adaptation issues in the country and stressed the need for collaborative efforts in tackling the myriad of challenges in the delta areas.
The Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation in addressing participants, reiterated government’s commitment to ensuring the mainstreaming of climate change issues as part of Ghana’s holistic development agenda. He enumerated several government interventions and outlined some plans to avert the recurrent flooding and erosion issues in the delta areas. He noted specifically the National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) as one of the key documents that stipulates government’s direction in relation to climate change issues. He further stressed the role of research, science and technology in dealing with various environmental challenges and urged the DECCMA team on a good job well done while indicating his Ministry’s preparedness to collaborate with and support innovative ideas from the activities of the DECCMA project.

H. E. Heather Cameron (middle) with Hon. Prof. Frimpong Boateng (L) and Prof. Samuel Nii Ardey Codjoe (R) during the opening ceremony (Courtesy: Canadian High Commission)
The Canadian High Commissioner on her part expressed her excitement at being part of the DECCMA Consortium in discussing migration and climate change issues and was happy that the IDRC, DFID, the University of Ghana and others from Africa and Asia are collaborating to consider the shared challenges of communities living in delta regions. She was of the view that “cross-border research networks help to advance shared research priorities, and to also bring ideas, expertise and collaborations to advancing understanding at local levels”. Noting that migration and climate change will disproportionately affect women and girls, she was happy that the research consortium has already produced a number of papers on specific gender issues. She remains hopeful that the ultimate agenda-setting of the research consortium will reflect gender issues in similar fashion by helping give women and girls (in the delta regions) the tools and opportunities to be powerful agents of change in creating more resilient communities. She noted that the UK will continue to reinforce investments and strengthen research and innovation as part of its new international assistance policy operations in recognition of the important role of research and innovation in the development process so as to help bring research into policy and practice, and to scale-up innovative solutions that demonstrate development results.
There was also poster presentations highlighting some of the research outputs of the consortium across the various participating countries.

DECCMA7th Group

(Image: DECCMA Consortium and Honoured guests)

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The lengths one must go for drinking water

by Aysha Akter Akhi

image003I went to Noakhali, Laxmipur, Khulna, Bagerhat, Jessore, and Gopalgonj for field surveys for the DECCMA project and gained so many experiences from this journey.  Among them, I can share the place called Amurkata of Paikgacha of the Khulna district where there is a scarcity of drinking water. This area of six or seven kilometres has no internal transport. People paddle from one part to another. The ground in that area is high in salinity. There are also very few trees and the weather is quite rough. People often travel three of four kilometres by foot to collect drinking water from a deep well which is placed in a “Local Bazaar.” Every day in the morning or evening, they go with one or two jars to collect water. In today’s age, this scenario is shocking to see.image001

Working with RMMRU on DECCMA; The memories I will not forget

by Rafiqul Islam, Research Assistant (RMMRU)

Life is full of experiences and I want to share my experience about the journey to perform research with RMMRU and about the memorable time I spent with my colleagues.

First, I want to give thanks to my Lord because I think I am so lucky to work with RMMRU for a few months. In those few months I have learned many things from RMMRU and from my colleagues.

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First, I went to Chandpur, Lakshmipur and Bhola to conduct household listing surveys. We faced some accommodation problems. My colleagues were very supportive and helpful to me as we overcame all sorts of problems regarding staying, eating, and travelling. I was one of the younger members of the team, so I received love from my senior brothers.  I am a jolly-minded person, so I can communicate with my respondents and my colleagues spontaneously but when we had to do the surveys, we had faced some problems because we had no female members in the group. When we reached each household, a few people were reluctant to participate in our survey but generally the majority were very helpful to us in our research. After completing these surveys, we returned to Dhaka.

In April, we left Dhaka again for another round of field work and to conduct interviews with selected respondents. This time I was in a new group. Our journey was good and we had 7 members on our team, including me. My partner was Tamanna Apu. Frankly speaking, at first I was not comfortable with her because her way of thinking and my way of thinking was a little bit different. Gradually we understood each other’s work and we became good friends for the purpose of the work. My other team members including Musabbir Bhai, Saiful and Roni Bhai, Ridita and Popy Apu were too good.  We had two members replacing Roni Bhai and Saiful were Himel and Tanjim Bhai. They were also friendly.  Every morning the females got up early in the morning, got ready quickly and were waiting for us.  All of these moments were so memorable for me and made for a very friendly work environment. This friendly attitude among the team members was not limited to the work but also in all spheres, generally, we got along as a team. I really will not forget those days.

Another memorable day was visiting our field work by Ricardo and Rocky Bhai in Lakshmipur.  I was little bit sick and nervous that day because Rocky Bhai scolded us for our mistake. At that moment I was sad but after, I realised that it was my fault. I always respect and love Rocky Bhai from the core of my heart undoubtedly. A most horrible experience occurred on 28th May 2016.  On that day we started our journey from Lakshmipur sadar to Bhola on a trawler ship, when suddenly a storm began.  All of us had begun to fear for our lives, but by the grace of almighty Allah we made it through. We have finished our journey through some ups and downs but in the end, the experience left me with one of the more significant memories in my life.

It was a great opportunity for me to work with a reputed organisation like RMMRU. Finally, I want to thank all the members of RMMRU.

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