New DECCMA brief “Climate change and the economic future of deltas in Africa and Asia”

The DECCMA Economics team have released a new policy brief “Climate change and the economic future of deltas in Africa and Asia“.¬† The policy brief is led by the team from the Basque Centre for Climate Change, and summarises some of the key findings on the current and future economic status of deltas, taking into account climate change, and distills information from papers published in the peer-reviewed literature (including “The socioeconomic future of deltas in a changing environment” by Arto et al).

The brief highlights how climate change has the potential to reduce GDP per capita by 8.5-14.5% in the deltas, through impacts on infrastructure, agriculture and fisheries. Traditional adaptation options, such as embankments and protection and restoration of mangroves, could only reduce these effects by up to 40-50%, thus minimising but not ruling out negative impacts.

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).

“We need to give our citizens a safe place to stay” How government is relocating coastal communities affected by loss of land in the Mahanadi delta, India

by Sumana Banerjee, Sumanta Banerjee, Dr R N Samal and Dr Tuhin Ghosh

Separated by thousands of miles but united by a common environmental fate, like the Pacific island nation of Kiribati which is facing the risk of being engulfed by rising seas, the Satavaya Gram Panchayat within India‚Äôs Mahanadi Delta has lost eleven villages to the sea. Recognising the threats to their citizens, the state government of Odisha has taken a pioneering and “humanitarian approach” to relocation, providing new homes and ensuring that appropriate livelihood support is available in the places where displaced communities are resettled.¬† Read more in a new photostory.

Encroaching sands threaten houses in Satavaya Gram Panchayat

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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Should we unpack “community-based adaptation”?

by Natalie Suckall                           

Despite many examples of successful community-based adaptation, DECCMA’s extensive household survey¬† across four deltas found very little evidence of collective action. Rather than being activities in addition to those of the household, instead community-level effects are only observed when there is an aggregation of household-based activities. Does this mean that we need to better interrogate “community-based adaptation”?

Natalie Suckall presents at the Development Studies Association 2017 annual conference

Interest in this topic emerged at the recent Development Studies Association 2017 annual conference, held at the University of Bradford. Five DECCMA researchers led a panel on sustainable deltas. From varied presentations on observed adaptation, adaptation governance, migration and remittances, and migration and adaptation, a common theme emerged – that of scale. In particular, how does DECCMA understand events that take place at the community level, as opposed to the household or national level?

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One of the issues faced by DECCMA researchers was that no examples of collective action and very few examples of community based adaptation were found during our initial literature review of observable adaptation in the deltas.

Although some adaptation interventions were characterised as CBA, their impact was often felt at the household level where different households within the community were affected in different ways. For example, polders (land reclaimed from the sea) in Bangladesh are often described as a community adaptation as they aim to protect entire communities from flooding as well as providing land for farmers and fishers. Sometimes communities are involved in their construction.

Whilst communities may be involved in the construction of polders, this does not mean that the benefits are equally spread.  Within each polder there exist multiple competing interests between government, farmers, pond owners, and the landless.  Larger and better off households are more likely to be successful farmers and fishers, with profit and yield unlikely to be distributed to the landless poor. What this really means is that each household is affected by the polder in a different way Рand thus to talk of it as a community-based adaptation hides these differences.

Our survey of 6000 households in the four study sites provided an opportunity to search for examples of collective action. We found that in all four locations less than a quarter of households were involved in a cooperative group.  The highest membership was in the Indian Mahandi at 25%, whilst it was 14% in Ghana, 8% in Bangladesh, and only 6% in the Indian Bengal delta.

In light of these findings, DECCMA’s integrated assessment model considers only national and household-level adaptations. Our survey evidence shows that community-based adaptation is far less important than household level, and is captured by aggregating household-level benefits. Since findings show that community-based adaptation can have variable effects, we should perhaps interrogate it before promoting as an appropriation adaptation to climate change.

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