DECCMA and ASSAR present at UNU-WIDER Development Conference in Ghana

by Prosper Adiku, DECCMA Ghana RiU focal point

On October 6th, Kwasi Appeaning-Addo participated at the UNU-WIDER Development Conference held in Accra.

The UNU-WIDER Conference, held under the theme ‘Migration and mobility- new frontiers for research and policy’ was jointly organised by the UNU-WIDER and the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA). The 2-day conference comprised plenary, parallel sessions with contributed papers, and a poster session. The conference explored the relationships between migration, mobility, and development, with a focus on South-South movements and the African region. It aimed to bring together new and innovative research from economics and other disciplines that can inform broader policy-relevant debate and action.

UNU WIDER conference

Profs. Chris Gordon (2nd L) and Appeaning-Addo (2nd R) at the Environment and Natural Resources parallel session of the Conference (Photograph credit: Wendy Boakye)

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Presenting on DECCMA’s findings on migration and mobility across deltas, Professor Appeaning-Addo was part of the “Environment and Natural Resources” parallel session chaired by Linguère Mously Mbaye. The Collaborative Adaptation Research in Africa and Asia programme was also represented by Professor Chris Gordon of Adaptation at Scale in Arid and Semi-arid land (ASSAR). Drawing together their findings on deltas and semi-arid lands in Ghana, DECCMA and ASSAR jointly developed a research brief ‘Migration: An Opportunity or Threat to Adaptation?’ which was available at the conference.

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DECCMA participates in webinar on gender roles in water scarcity-induced migration

by Katharine Vincent

Creating evidence to contribute to policy support for gender-sensitive adaptation in deltas requires significant sex-disaggregated data and investigation of gender implications of migration. DECCMA has, so far, surveyed 6000 households across four deltas in migrant-sending areas, and is in the process of surveying a further 6000 households in migrant-receiving areas.

Where possible in the survey, the household head and an adult of the other sex have been separately surveyed, giving rise to a significant data set. This illuminates gender differences in the causes, patterns and consequences of migration, and was highlighted by DECCMA during a webinar on “Gender roles in water scarcity-induced migration.”

The webinar took place as part of the GEF International Waters: LEARN project (gender sub-component), undertaken by UNESCO’s World Water Assessment Programme and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The aim of this project is to raise awareness of the importance of gender mainstreaming and how to do it in international waters project. They recently published a report on “Migration and its interdependencies with water scarcity, gender and youth“.

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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One village above water, another below

by Md. Saiful Islam (Sourav)

I got the chance to work for RMMRU and through this organisation, I was able to visit many places that I have never been before. I visited these places for my research work which allowed me to visit many rural places. This was my first opportunity to learn first hand about nature, climate change and life in these regions.

I was surprised when I saw village people surviving day by day for their livelihood or family. Two villages were divided by a road, one village is still under water and another is more developed. That village is still underwater because of the environmental situation and its location near the river.

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I was also surprised when I saw a mother with three sons. One son was an AGM at the Bangladesh Bank, another was a Supreme Court advocate and the third was a businessman. They don’t contribute to their family at all – not even to their mother. They don’t help financially – not even a single taka. To hear that was very difficult and it never stops to bring tears to my eyes. Some people never build or construct a building because of the cyclone of the floor. This is because these types of events keep happening. They know that if they build a house this month that next month another cyclone or flood may come. What is the point?

To sum it up, I learnt a lot during my visits to these places. One question always returns to me: how do people live? How do they survive? But still, they do survive. They are the actual fighter.

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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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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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