New ESPA open access book available “Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation: Trade-offs and Governance”

The Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme has just released a book – “Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation. Trade-offs and Governance”. It synthesises the headline messages from the 9 year duration ESPA programme and over 120 products that were funded within it.

Particularly timely in light of the 17 ambitious Sustainable Development Goals, the book provides  evidence to address the questions at the heart of ecosystems and wellbeing research. It reviews the impacts of ongoing drivers of change and presents new ways to achieve sustainable wellbeing, equity, diversity, and resilience. The authors evaluate the potential solutions that can be offered by carefully-designed conservation projects, payment schemes, and novel governance approaches across scales – from local to national and international – highlighting trade offs and governance systems to achieve sustainable development.

The entire book is open access, and includes a chapter by DECCMA Co-PI Professor Neil Adger on Interactions of migration and population dynamics with ecosystem services.

Come and hear more about DECCMA research at Adaptation Futures 2018

DECCMA researchers will be participating in the following sessions at Adaptation Futures 2018 in Cape Town:

Monday 18th June

Robert Nicholls will participate in S80 on “Adaptive coastal planning-sharing techniques, tools and experiences”, run by Deltares (parallel session 2, 1500-1700, room 2.64).

Tuesday 19th June

Ricardo Safra de Campos will participate S39 on “Early experiences with managed retreat”, run by Stanford University (parallel session 4, 1415-1600, room 1.43).

Wednesday 20th June

Shouvik Das will participate in S92 on “Multidimensional Framework and Response Matrix for Migration”, run by Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF)(early session, 0800-0900, room 2.63)

Katharine Vincent will give a presentation “Gendered adaptation in deltas: Who decides, who benefits, and who loses?” in S64 “What enables adaptation of women in climate hotspots?”, run by IDRC (parallel session 6, 0915-1100, room 1.63).

Katharine Vincent will give a presentation “The process of developing adaptation policy trajectories in the DECCMA project” in S200 “Evidence-based guiding principles for developing adaptation pathways to inform adaptation policy and practice in the context of development”, run by Wageningen University  (parallel session 7, 1415-1600, room 2.41).

Katharine Vincent will give a presentation “Changing attitudes and behaviours among members of a consortium” in S195 “Research for Impact: Dynamic approaches, experiences and lessons on research uptake” (parallel session 8, 1630-1815, room 1.42).

Thursday 21st June

Kwasi Appeaning-Addo will give a presentation on the DECCMA project in Ghana in S180 “Towards an adaptive climate proof freshwater supply in salinising deltas and possible solutions for deltas worldwide: examples from The Netherlands, Ghana, Vietnam and Bangladesh”, run by Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management  (parallel session 11, 1415-1600, room 1.62).

Robert Nicholls, Katharine Vincent and Ricardo Safra de Campos will participate in a joint DECCMA-Western Indian Ocean Deltas Exchange Network (WIODER)-Delta Alliance session “Adaptation practice and experience in deltas in the global south”. Robert will chair the session, Katharine will make a presentation “Documenting observed adaptations in deltaic Ghana, India and Bangladesh” and Ricardo will make a presentation “Migration as an adaptation” (parallel session 11, 1415-1600, room 1.64).

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.

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

by Colette Mortreux, Ricardo Safra de Campos and Neil Adger

[Reposted from]

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.

show more

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.


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.


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.

For further information:

DECCMA researchers present at European Geophysical Union annual conference in Vienna

by Robert Nicholls and Attila Lazar

A number of DECCMA researchers participated in the recent European Geophysical Union’s annual assembly in Vienna. It is one of the largest conferences in Europe with about 15,000  participants. The focus is on the physical sciences, but it has increasingly cross- disciplinary sessions involving economics, social-sciences and demography.

Attila Lazar from the University of Southampton presented a paper on “Migration and adaptation under climate change in deltas”, discussing a method and the resulting Bayesian network model on the household adaptation (including migration) decisions for male- and female-headed households in Bangladesh, India and Ghana.

Attila Lazar’s presentation to EGU

show more

DECCMA PI Robert Nicholls co-convened a session on deltas with Steve Darby, Ester Stouthamer (Utrecht) and Hans Middlekoop (Utrecht). Presenters included Frances Dunn (University of Southampton) on present and future sediment fluxes to deltas worldwide, including the DECCMA deltas; Tuhin Ghosh (Jadavpur University) on plausible future aquaculture expansion in the Indian Bengal Delta; and Attila Lazar on possible development trajectories for coastal Bangladesh (based on work funded by the REACH Project).

A large number of posters were also presented, including an overview of the DECCMA project and a lot of work on subsidence in deltas.

The meeting was a good foundation for exchange.  DECCMA researchers discussed future meetings with Dutch colleagues, at EGU and elsewhere, to extend collaboration on  multidisciplinary delta research.

show less

“Migration always good? There’s no straight answer” published on

by Rituparna Hajra and Tuhin Ghosh

A piece by Rituparna Hajra and DECCMA Co-PI Tuhin Ghosh entitled “Migration always good? There’s no straight answer” has been published on the website thethirdpole.netThe Third Pole is a multilingual platform dedicated to promoting information and discussion about the Himalayan watershed and the rivers that originate there. The article explains how climate change is forcing people out of the Sundarbans, and 75% of those left behind depend on remittances, while they face labour shortages in their own farms.

As agricultural productivity flounders in the Sundarbans, unskilled labour is all the residents have to sell (image by Mike Prince as published on


“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’s 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

New CARIAA brief on migration in climate change hotspots

Synthesising migration findings in India from three CARIAA projects

by Sumana Banerjee

With the Collaborative Adaptation Research In Africa and Asia (CARIAA) programme slowly heading towards to a completion, the thrust is now upon what we have learnt together as a research programme. In India, CARIAA has three consortia working in the different hotspots- deltas (DECCMA), mountains (Hi-AWARE) and semi-arid areas (ASSAR). Built into the programme design was the idea of the Country Table which gave a chance to the three consortia to provide a national perspective on different topics.

DECCMA, ASSAR and HI-AWARE teams at the India meeting

The India Country Table had met earlier for workshops and meetings during the life of CARIAA but the workshop on migration which was held at Kolkata on 19th January 2018 was different as it was the first time that the three consortia came together to share their findings on migration.  DECCMA-India​ (​Jadavpur University) ​hosted this one-day workshop on migration on the 19th January 2018 in Kolkata which was attended by researchers of ASSAR from Indian Institute of Human Settlements (IIHS) and Hi-AWARE from The Energy Resources Institute (TERI). Dr. K S Murali from IDRC was also present.

show more

Migration experts Prof S Chandrasekhar of Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR, India) ​and Dr Amina Maharjan of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD, Nepal)​ provided feedback on the findings.

For an effective Research into Use effort, the Indian Country Table decided to produce policy briefs on three topics – Hotspots (led by Hi-AWARE-TERI), Adaptation (led by ASSAR-IIHS) and Migration (led by DECCMA-JU) and then share these with relevant policy makers. While dissemination of findings is encouraged at this stage of the programme, we realised the need to use the one day workshop to gather a clearer understanding of where we stand vis-à-vis migration across the respective hotspots.

Synthesising findings across different disciplines, hotspots, and methodologies on a topic which was not envisaged to be researched upon on a same scale by all the three consortia was a challenge. Moving beyond one’s own research methodology and bringing together qualitative and quantitative findings required some discussion. The feedback and guidance from the experts helped us identify some themes which could guide us to tie the findings from the three consortia together.

The workshop was a success. How effective are workshops if they don’t make one “work”?! The team is now working on the India migration policy brief which should be available online by March 2018.

show less