Deltas: present and future-new infographic from DECCMA

DECCMA has released a new infographic that summarises what we know about deltas in the present and future. Deltas are already exposed to sea level rise, coastal erosion, flooding and salinisation. In the future climate risk will increase beyond 2050, but the particular nature of hazards differs between deltas. In the Volta in Ghana, for example, erosion and flooding is driven by waves and sea level rise; whereas the future of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna is more dependent on sediment input than other deltas.

Deltas are already important contributors to national economies. In the future agriculture will become less significant in economies due to land degradation and erosion, but models show a slight increase in the productivity of brackish fisheries.

People in deltas are already mobile but in future mobility will be exacerbated by the effects of climate and environmental stresses on livelihood options.

Adaptation is already taking place, but more will be required in future. Infrastructural adaptations, such as dykes and embankments, are required, as is effective planning, such as the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100. Policy frameworks should be revisited to enable gender-equitable adaptation and support for internally displaced persons. Migration also provides opportunities for adaptation.

Report on DECCMA and Delta Alliance-convened session at Adaptation Futures 2018 “Adaptation practice and experience in deltas in the global south”

by Katharine Vincent and Peter van Veelen

DECCMA and the Delta Alliance recently co-convened a session on 21st June at Adaptation Futures 2018 in Cape Town on the topic “Adaptation practice and experience in deltas in the global south”. The session included presentations from both DECCMA and Delta Alliance members.

Ricardo Safra de Campos presents on “Migration as an adaptation”

DECCMA PI Robert Nicholls chaired the session. Katharine Vincent from Kulima Integrated Development Solutions presented research on observed adaptations in deltaic Ghana, India and Bangladesh and Ricardo Safra De Campos from the University of Exeter presented the first research findings of the DECCMA project on “Migration as an adaptation”. The presentation showed that households in deltas employ a variety of adaptation strategies in the face of environmental and climate risk, including migration.

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The Delta Alliance Egypt and Ghana wing coordinators presented experiences in delta planning and management. Professor Mohamed Soliman from the Coastal Research Institute presented innovative ways to create natural flood defenses and sand dunes along Alexandria’s coast to stop recurrent coastal flooding. Ken Kinney from the Development Institute in Ghana, presented the challenges of the Volta delta and the process of establishing a network of knowledge institutes, governments and local communities to work on integral land use planning. Both presentations showed that a holistic coastal management plan is needed that integrates coastal management with economic and land use planning.

As with all sessions at Adaptation Futures 2018, DECCMA and the Delta Alliance were invited to provide three “takeaway” points for consideration by the authors of the IPCC 6th Assessment Report. The points were:

  1. There is a growing body of literature highlighting the potential future of deltas under climate change, taking into account sea level rise and sediment flux, among others.
  2. Hard adaptations such as embankments are critical to protect infrastructure, lives and livelihoods in deltas.
  3. There is evidence of a variety of household adaptations in deltas, which include in situ adaptations and migration.

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New book published “Ecosystem services for well-being in deltas. Integrated assessment for policy analysis”

A new book “Ecosystem services for well-being in deltas. Integrated assessment for policy analysis” has just been published open access by Springer. The book is an output of a predecessor project to DECCMA, ESPA Deltas. Chapters include analysis of ecosystem trends and projected futures under climate change, governance analysis, poverty and social-ecological systems analysis, and the linkages between poverty and ecosystem services in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna delta in Bangladesh.

Contributors include DECCMA PI Robert Nicholls, Co-PIs Craig Hutton, Stephen Darby, Andrew Allan, Neil Adger, Susan Kay, Sugata Hazra, Tuhin Ghosh, Munsur Rahman and Masfiqus Salehin, as well as DECCMA researchers Helen Adams, Anisul Haque, Paul Whitehead, Sally Brown, Shahjahan Mondal, Fiifi Amoako Johnson and Attila N. Lázár.

DECCMA Bangladesh provides contributions to the design of a new adaptation project funded by GEF and UNDP

by Saiful Alam

DECCMA Bangladesh team members were invited to participate in a consultation to formulate a project addressing climate change risks in selected Agro-Ecological Zones (AEZs) in Bangladesh. The project is likely to be funded to the tune of $8 million by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and will benefit five pilot areas in Bangladesh: Chittagong, Chittagong Hill Tracts, dryland, floodplain and haor (wetland ecosystem).

The stakeholder consultation was organized by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) on 5 July 2018 at Pan Pacific Sonargoan Hotel, Dhaka. Dr. S. M. Munjurul Hannan Khan, Additional Secretary, MoEFCC presided over the consultation meeting. Mr Abdullah Al Mohsin Chowdhury, Secretary-in Charge, MoEFCC and Dr. Sultan Ahmed, Director-General, Department of Environment (DoE) contributed as Chief Guest and moderator respectively.

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DECCMA, Bangladesh members Dr. Md. Munsur Rahman, Dr. Mohammed Abed Hossain and Saiful Alam attended the meeting, and provided comments on the approach and methods proposed. They also shared feedback on possible adaptation measures, informed by DECCMA’s adaptation research in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna delta.

Summing up the findings from the consultation, Mr Abdullah Al Mohsin Chowdhury, Secretary-in Charge, MoEFCC, proposed taking into account DECCMA’s adaptation inventories so as to not unnecessarily re-invent the wheel. Dr. Sultan Ahmed, DG, DoE, further suggested referring to DECCMA’s findings on hotspots of climate change risk in Bangladesh.

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DECCMA team members reflect on the experience of working in an international and multi-disciplinary consortium

by Katharine Vincent

The DECCMA team comprises an international, multi-disciplinary consortium all working together to achieve the common goal of evaluating migration as an adaptation in the context of climate change in deltas. In this short clip we outline some of the highlights and challenges of working as part of a consortium, and some lessons learned for future consortium projects.

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

by Institute of Water and Flood Management

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

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

Courtesy of the Institute of Water and Flood Management

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

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

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

by Saiful Alam

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

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

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

ESPA Deltas project publishes short film on creating a sustainable future for climate-vulnerable deltas

The Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation Delta Project has just published a short film that highlights its findings in Bangladesh. The project was concerned with assessing health, livelihoods, ecosystems and poverty alleviation in populous deltas to provide knowledge and tools to enable policy-makers to evaluate the effects of policy decisions on people’s livelihoods.

A multidisciplinary and multi-national team of policy analysts, social and natural scientists and engineers collectively used a participatory approach to create a model to formally evaluate ecosystem services and poverty in the context of the wide range of changes that are occurring. In the film, DECCMA Principle Investigator Professor Robert Nicholls and researcher Dr Helen Adams talk about the environmental and social stresses facing delta populations, from salinity and subsidence to poverty and marginalisation.

ESPA Deltas holds final workshop with the Planning Commission in Bangladesh

by Saiful Alam

DECCMA builds on a project under the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme – ESPA Deltas. Following closure of ESPA Deltas in 2016 policy-makers in Bangladesh requested support in the use of tools developed within the project to assess the implications of government project proposals on ecosystem services and livelihoods in coastal Bangladesh. An additional year of funding was granted to ensure that the developed research could be translated into use to inform policy.

ESPA workshop (photo: Saiful Alam)

The final workshop of this extension project took place last week at the Planning Commission in Dhaka. Chaired by Professor Shamsul Alam, Senior Secretary in the General Economic Division of the Planning Commission, the workshop provided the opportunity for researchers to present their evaluations of the effect of three interventions proposed under the Delta Plan 2100.

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Research team members Professor Robert Nicholls and Dr Alex Chapman (University of Southampton) and Professors Md. Munsur Rahman, Mashfiqus Salehin and Anisul Haque (Institute of Water and Flood Management, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology) outlined the implications of three structural interventions under the Delta Plan 2100: ‘Green belt’ along the  coastal vulnerable area and sea walls along a selection of polders (sea-facing and a cluster in the south central part of the coast).

Professor Alam expressed his appreciation for the analysis and stated that it will allow more confidence about its application. DECCMA has furthered the evolving relationship with the Planning Commission. Professor Alam expressed his interest in DECCMA’s integrated assessment model to assess the impacts of cyclones on the coast, sediment management and water-logging.

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DECCMA holds its 8th whole consortium meeting in Bangladesh

by Katharine Vincent

What have we learned about migration and adaptation in deltas? Last week nearly 50 members of the DECCMA team from Bangladesh, Ghana, India and the northern team convened in Dhaka for the 8th whole consortium meeting. It was an exciting opportunity to learn about a critical mass of research findings that have been developed over the past 3.5 years, and plan how to ensure they inform theory, policy and practice.

Participants at the DECCMA8th whole consortium meeting, with key Bangladesh government representatives concerned with adaptation and the Delta Plan 2100

When it commenced in 2014, DECCMA set itself seven ambitious objectives, namely:

(1) to understand the governance mechanisms that promote or hinder migration of men and women in deltas;

(2) to identify climate change impact hotspots in deltas where vulnerability will grow and adaptation will be needed;

(3) to understand the conditions that promote migration and its outcomes, as well as gender-specific adaptation options for trapped populations, via surveys;

(4) to understand how climate-change-driven global and national macro-economic processes impact on migration of men and women in deltas;

(5) to produce an integrated systems-based bio-physical and socio-economic model to investigate
potential future gendered migration under climate change;

(6) to conceptualise and evaluate migration within a wide suite of potential adaptation options at both the household and delta level;

(7) to identify feasible and desirable adaptation options and support implementation of stakeholder-led gender-sensitive adaptation policy choices.

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During the consortium meeting each country team consolidated its findings around these objectives to synthesise what we have learned so far within each of the deltas. A wide-ranging and detailed set of analyses was presented, from assessment of the existence and status of implementation of adaptation-related policies in each country, to migration patterns and consequences, and models of fishery and livestock productivity.  The structure of a hybrid model framework has been developed, based on Bayesian network analysis with multiple nodes so that it can project the impacts of climate change on the biophysical and socio-economic environments, as well as adaptation and migration decisions and consequences.

Planning took place to ensure that these findings are published in the peer-reviewed literature, and also in the form of a book. At the same time, DECCMA is committed to ensuring that research findings are effectively communicated to various stakeholders to ensure that they can inform policy and practice, enabling sustainable adaptation to climate change in deltas and proactive management of projected migration patterns. The integrated assessment model will play a key role in this, and over the course of the project relationships have been built with key stakeholders in each country who have an interest in this information for their planning decisions. Alongside targeted and tailored policy briefs, the team will also be available to support governments in developing adaptation finance proposals.

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