Story of change-DECCMA’s inputs to the Odisha State Action Plan on Climate Change 2018-23

DECCMA is committed to providing policy support to create the conditions for sustainable, gender-sensitive adaptation in deltas. The DECCMA India team in the Mahanadi delta, through consortium members Sansristi and the Chilika Development Authority, has actively engaged with stakeholders in the Odisha state government.

As a result of this engagement, the DECCMA India team was invited to provide comments into the second Odisha State Action Plan on Climate Change 2018-23. Whilst gender was minimally considered, as a results of DECCMA’s inputs and research findings the plan now contains a separate chapter on gender. This short video clip tracks DECCMA’s contribution to the change in the content of the Action Plan.

The aftermath of Aila-The lingering effects of a tropical cyclone in the Indian Bengal delta

by Katharine Vincent and Sumana Banerjee

When a tropical cyclone hits, the loss of life and destruction of land and property is immediately evident. But the effects of such extreme weather events can endure for years. In a new photostory  “THE AFTERMATH OF AILA. The lingering effects of a tropical cyclone in the Indian Bengal delta”, Katharine Vincent and Sumana Banerjee reflect on how, nearly a decade after it occurred, cyclone Aila still has an impact on the lives and livelihoods of island residents in the Indian Bengal delta.

Dulki village, Gosaba block, Indian Bengal delta (photo: Katharine Vincent)

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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DECCMA researcher selected to take part in international summer school on environmental changes and migration

 

DECCMA India PhD researcher Shouvik Das has been selected to participate in the EDGE International Summer School on environmental changes and migration.  The 5 day summer school is the third to take place within the Horizon 2020-funded EDGE programme, a collaboration between three European partners: Sciences Po in France, the University of Economics in Bratislava and the University of Liege in Belgium. It will take place in Liege in September. Shouvik’s PhD topic is “Environmental change and migration in the lower delta plain of West Bengal, India”.

Shouvik Das (photo: Klaus Wohlmann)

New insights on climate change, migration and adaptation in the Mahanadi and Indian Bengal deltas

by Sumana Banerjee

DECCMA has released two new briefs that outline the latest findings on climate change, migration and adaptation in the Mahanadi and Indian Bengal deltas. Among the highlights are the relationship of migration to climate stress (with most stressed locations sending more migrants in both deltas), the barriers to policy implementation (particularly relating to embankment (re)construction), and lack of gender-sensitive adaptation policies.

The briefs provide an update to our earlier delta briefs (for the Mahanadi and Indian Bengal deltas).

DECCMA gender outputs published in India’s Economic and Political Weekly

by Katharine Vincent

The issue of India’s Economic and Political Weekly published on 28th April 2018 features two papers from DECCMA researchers. Asha Hans from DECCMA and Nitya Rao from ASSAR penned a piece “Gender and climate change. Directions for research, policy and practice” that introduces various articles that interrogates a statement in the Indian National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) that states that “the impacts of climate change could prove particularly severe for women”. “Adapting to climate change-induced migration. Women in the Indian Bengal delta” is by the late Asish Kumar Ghosh, Sukanya Banerjee and Farha Naaz. It highlights how climate change-induced migration by men after cyclone Aila left women with the burden of running households – but the positive role of self-help groups in enabling empowerment.

Fish drying technology used by women’s groups (photo by Sumana Banerjee)

DECCMA India and CARIAA partners release policy brief on migration

DECCMA India and the two other CARIAA projects that work in country, Adaptation at Scale in Arid and Semi-arid Regions (ASSAR) and Himalayan Adaptation Water and Resilience (HiAWARE)  have released a joint policy brief on migration. The policy brief synthesises research findings from across the projects, and was officially launched in Delhi on 4th May. Evidence from the three climate change hotspots (deltas, glacier-fed river basins and arid areas) shows that most migration is internal, undertaken by men, and to urban and peri-urban areas. Most migration is for economic reasons, and remittances from migration are important sources of income in migrant-sending areas. Environmental change is leading to displacement in some cases (e.g. from the eroding land in deltas), and in others contributes to the economic stresses that drive migration.

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.

What Drives Government Decisions to (Not) Support Resettlement? New blog on TransRe.org by DECCMA researchers

by Colette Mortreux, Ricardo Safra de Campos and Neil Adger

[Reposted from www.transre.org]

Sea level rise, floods, and tropical cyclones are affecting the very land on which coastal and delta populations live. Loss of houses, infrastructure, and agricultural land prompts governments to consider options to fulfil their role in protecting their citizens. Planned relocations of people from one place to another are often politically controversial. However, whilst the pros and cons of resettlement decisions are often debated, less attention is paid to the consequences of not intervening.

International protocols exist to guide resettlement and planned location, but within individual states the decision is often political. In the Indian Sundarbans delta, the living conditions have become so precarious that communities are requesting government intervention, increasing the legitimacy of the resettlement. However, taking the example of three communities facing similar levels of threats, the response by government has not been correspondingly similar. So the question is – what determines whether or not governments take action, and the nature of that action?

Developing a model to explain government (in)action

In a new paper in Global Environmental Change we propose a conceptual model that is designed to explain government action or inaction with regard to planned relocation of vulnerable communities.

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The model takes into account three main factors: what a government wants to do, what it is obliged to do, and what populations demand from them. The model suggests that decisions to act or not act on relocation initiatives (as shown in section B) are driven by underlying political determinants (section A), leading to outcomes for the populations involved (section C). The pathways in the figure demonstrate the diversity of government responses, and what drives them, as well as the implications this can have on the communities affected by environmental change.

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Figure 1: Conceptual model of planned relocation

Different approaches to relocation in the Indian Sundarbans delta

In the Sagar block of the Indian Sundarbans, there is a history of significant environment- displacement from coastal flooding, storm surges, erosion, and salinization. The number of people displaced since the 1970s is estimated to be around 4,000 from Ghoramara and Lohachara. Various resettlement programs have been used in the past. Recently, the communities of Ghoramara, Beguakhali and Dhablat have all demanded action, yet government responses to displacement have been diverse. In Ghoromara, there has been sustained government action to formally settle those displaced by erosion. In Beguakhali, the government has not formally resettled displaced households, but has invested in large-scale coastal embankments to protect the community. In Dhablat, the government has taken no action.

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Figure 2: Location of the communities in the Sagar block, Indian Sundarbans delta

Planned resettlement from Ghoromara

Resettlement from Ghoromara began in 1977 after the government of West Bengal declared it a “no man’s land” because of the high rates of erosion. The recently elected communist government of West Bengal declared a relocation policy in which land, and sometimes housing, were provided to resettled communities. But resettlement was not without problems. Some of the allocated land was saline and useless for farming. There was also tension with host communities in Sagar island, who resented the support provided to the former-Ghoromara residents.

Avoided resettlement: constructing an embankment to protect communities in Beguakhali

In Beguakhali the government has had a very different response to environmental pressures on the land. A coastal embankment was built and disaster relief provided in cases of breach, for example, after the major cyclone, Aila, in 2009. However, the embankment construction was primarily motivated by the government of India’s decision to develop a deep-sea port in Beguakhali for the transport of coal and iron – although this has not yet started.

Dhablat: no government action to environmental pressures

In Dhablat, 10 kilometers east of Beguakhali, the government provided disaster relief after successive embankment breaches.  However, unlike Beguakhali, there has been no commitment to rebuild the embankment nor, as in Ghoromara, support for relocation. One resident explained that flooding can leave them waist deep in water in their house. Many that can afford to do so have migrated out, leaving a small ‘trapped population.’

Linking to the model: reasons for different government responses

Tracing the model back from the different outcomes in each community highlights the interplay of different factors that led to the action/inaction.  In Ghoromara, the newly-installed communist government was keen to show commitment to land redistribution and social welfare, creating a powerful incentive for government action.

This political change likely played a big role in overcoming the risk aversion and reluctance for action that often characterizes government response. This risk aversion was more evident in Begukhali, where embankment reconstruction also served the additional purpose of enabling the port construction, thus fitting with broader development goals.  In Dhablat, the remaining trapped population are highly marginalized and lack sufficient voice to hold government accountable for inaction.

Implications for relocation elsewhere

Climate change will exacerbate the environmental pressures that create cause for relocation. To date, the focus on relocation action by government overlooks inaction. Our model provides a mechanism to analyze these decisions.

Ultimately, inaction on resettlement can give rise to other public policy issues. As shown in Dhablat, for example, lack of response by government tends to lead to migration of individuals and households of their own accord – thereby altering the requirements for public infrastructure and services in their new locations. However, the capacity to migrate is dependent on resources, which means that trapped populations become concentrated in marginal and risky environments. Here they are likely to require regular disaster relief and measures for poverty alleviation.

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