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Majuli (India)-A lost cause or an ongoing adaptation to climate change?
 

Majuli (India)-A lost cause or an ongoing adaptation to climate change?

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This presentation was part of the 2009 World Town Planning Day Online Conference

This presentation was part of the 2009 World Town Planning Day Online Conference

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    Majuli (India)-A lost cause or an ongoing adaptation to climate change? Majuli (India)-A lost cause or an ongoing adaptation to climate change? Presentation Transcript

    • 2009 World Town Planning Day Online Conference Resilience in a Changing Climate Majuli (India) – A lost cause or an  ongoing adaptation to climate change? 12 November 2009 Urmi Buragohain Ministry of Municipality and  Urban Planning, Doha, Qatar
    • PRESENTATION OBJECTIVES This presentation will inform you • about a rural community in the developing  world extremely vulnerable to climate change  and faced with potential extinction • why the community defies all odds in  continuing to survive and adapt in a hostile  setting • how this case study can inform other  vulnerable communities around the world 2
    • THIS PRESENTATION IS NOT ABOUT… • Whether Majuli as a geographical entity is going  to exist or not • The environmental and heritage conservation  and management of the island • Disaster management 3
    • METHODOLOGY • Builds on past research on Majuli • Theoretical application of the methodological  framework proposed by Pelling (2003) • Data collection mainly from secondary sources • Inferences drawn would need further validation  via further research 4
    • INTRODUCTION INDIA • Majuli is a river island situated  in the central region of the  Brahmaputra basin in the state  of Assam in India’s northeast  region ASSAM ASSAM • Majuli was formed by the  action of the river  Brahmaputra, Subansiri and  their tributaries Lakhimpur • Connectivity to the mainland is  Majuli only by boat Jorhat 5
    • PHYSIOGRAPHIC SETTING1 • a powerful monsoon rainfall regime under wet  humid conditions • a fragile geologic base • active seismicity BAMBOO PORCUPINES RIVER BANK EROSION 6
    • LAND DEGRADATION2 • The landmass has reduced from around 1,300  sq.km during 1950s to around 800 sq.km in  2001  DHEMAJI DISTRICT SUBANSIRI RIVER DIBRUGARH DISTRICT LAKHIMPUR DISTRICT BREACH IN EMBANKMENT LEGEND GOLAGHAT DISTRICT ZONE I: HOMOGENOUS PLAIN AREAS JORHAT ZONE II: LOW LYING & FLOODED AREAS ZONE III: SANDY CHARS OR SAND BARS BRAHMAPUTRA RIVER EROSION EXISTING EMBANKMENT ERODED EMBANKMENT SUB‐DIVISION BOUNDARY RIVER 7
    • SOCIO‐POLITICAL CONTEXT2 • Tribal constituency • Seat of neo‐Vaishnavism • Economic vulnerability • Top‐down bureaucratic administration • Insurgency and counter‐insurgency MISHING DWELLINGS 8
    • DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE2 DECADAL INCREASE IN POPULATION OF MAJULI • The population of the Majuli Sub‐ 16.00% 14.00% 12.00% 13.37% 11.92% 13.29% Division as per the 1991 census  Percentage 11.14% 10.00% 8.00% % i ncrea s e was around 153,000  6.00% in 4.00% 2.00% popul a ti on • Out of 244 villages in 1991, 34  0.00% 1971 1981 1991 2001 were eroded by 2001 Year • Heavy outmigration from  COMPARISON OF THE GROWTH RATES IN THE THREE MOUZAS Ahatguri Mouza 40.00% 32.75% 30.85% 30.00% 16.78% 16.73% 20.00% Growth rate 10.00% (1 ) 961 SALMORA 1.13% 0.00% Growth rate KAMALABARI -10.00% (1 ) 971 Ahatguri Salm ora Kam alabari Mouza -20.00% -17.37% AHATGURI NOTE: Based on 1991 Census figures 9
    • CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS ON THE  REGION3 • the impacts of climate change on regions like  northeast India are less explored and less known  • no significant trend in rainfall for the region • a distinctly rising trend in surface air temperatures  • drought like situations; dry periods becoming longer  • irregular rainfall pattern  • extreme climate events becoming more frequent  10
    • WHY WILL MAJULI BE RESILIENT? • Majuli’s resilience to internal and external shocks  including climate change comes not from the ‘formal’,  top‐down responses to the physiographical and geo‐ morphological challenges, but from the social capital  inherent in the traditional cultural and religious groups  and institutions  11
    • WHAT MAKES MAJULI RESILIENT • Historical continuum of the traditional and religious  institutional networks – Mishings migrated over centuries to settle along  riverbanks – Neo‐Vaishnavite movement took its roots in Majuli in the 16th century – Non‐tribals migrated here attracted by the Sattras 12
    • COMPLEX NETWORK OF SOCIAL  RELATIONSHIPS  1. WITHIN A GROUP 2. BETWEEN GROUPS WITH  • Ke'bang SHARED INTERESTS • Nāmghar – common  • Yame Mimbir • Gaon Burha platform for various formal  & informal groups Pelling (2003): The balance  3. VERTICAL  between bridging, bonding  RELATIONSHIPS and linking capital points to a  • Nāmghar – Rāij‐Medhi as  society’s orientation towards  intermediary social fragmentation,  • Ke'bang – Gam as  cooperation or hierarchy intermediary 13
    • NĀMGHAR4 • for the last four hundred years, the Nāmghar has been serving as the  village public hall  • the Nāmghars operate and are  managed on democratic principles  • constructed by the joint labour of  the villagers  • the venue for congregational  chanting of prayers  • an effective forum for decentralised planning and decision making A CORRIDOR ENCIRCLING A NĀMGHAR 14
    • KE'BANG5 • the Ke'bang is the apex administrative  unit within a Mishing village • the chief of the Ke'bang is called Gam or Gaon Burah • village elders comprise the council body www.lakhimpur.nic.in • women are generally excluded from the  council body • has the power to deliver judgments and  punish the offenders • the Ke'bang is held in the Murong or  the public hall www.lakhimpur.nic.in 15
    • 1. RELATIONSHIPS WITHIN & BETWEEN  GROUPS NĀMGHAR NEIGHBOURING  A MISHING VILLAGE MISHING VILLAGE GAM OR VILLAGE HEADMAN VILLAGE ELDER VILLAGE ELDER VILLAGE ELDER COOPERATION KE'BANG OR VILLAGE COUNCIL rigbo gok nam MEN WOMEN dagle'ka‐alek MEN WOMEN MEN WOMEN Farming Farming Fishing Animal husbandry Maintaining &  Domestic tasks MALE YOUTH FEMALE YOUTH managing family Food gathering COOPERATION YAME‐MEMBER Weaving RESILIENCE HIGH RESILIENCE LOW 16
    • 2. ASSOCIATIONS BETWEEN GROUPS  WITH SHARED INTERESTS AND GOALS MISHING DEORI KOIBARTTA NATH KACHARI AHOM KOCH MATAK INFORMAL COOPERATION  NĀMGHAR BETWEEN VILLAGES •Employment in farms •Disaster aid •Women’s networks •Barter BRAHMIN KALITA RESILIENCE HIGH RESILIENCE LOW 17
    • 3. VERTICAL RELATIONSHIPS EXTERNAL INTERNAL UNESCO GOVERNMENT MINISTRIES &  GRAM  ADMINISTRATIVE  VILLAGER VILLAGER PANCHAYAT DEPARTMENTS NĀMGHAR VILLAGER VILLAGER Rāij‐Medhi CREDIT INSTITUTIONS BRAHMAPUTRA  NABARD/ CAPART BOARD VILLAGER VILLAGER LINE  ASSAM TRIBAL  SATTRA DEPARTMENTS DEVELOPMENT  AUTHORITY VILLAGER VILLAGER EDUCATIONAL CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS VILLAGER KEBANG VILLAGER EXTENSION SERVICES Gam MAHILA MANDAL Department of Agriculture NGO VILLAGER VILLAGER Agriculture University Majuli College NGO COOPERATIVES RESEARCH INSTITUTES Agriculture University PRIVATE SECTOR Paddy Research Institute VILLAGE VILLAGE COOPERATIVES CONTRACTORS VILLAGE TRADERS RESILIENCE HIGH RESILIENCE LOW 18
    • INFORMAL NETWORKS & CAPACITIES TYPE OF RELATIONSHIP INFORMAL INSTITUTION FUNCTIONS STRENGTHS RESOLVE DISPUTES TRADITION RELATIONSHIP WITHIN A  IMPOSE PENALTIES VOLUNTARY GROUP KE'BANG INFORMATION  AUTHORITY DISSEMINATION KNOWLEDGE MOBILIZATION OF RESOURCES REPRESENTATION RELIGIOUS DISCOURSE TRADITION RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN  SOCIAL DISCOURSE VOLUNTARY GATHERING PLACE GROUPS WITH SHARED  NĀMGHAR PERFORMANCE SPACE AUTHORITY VALUES KNOWLEDGE SHELTER REPRESENTATION FLOOD RELIEF RELIGIOUS DISCOURSE TRADITION KE'BANG SOCIAL DISCOURSE VOLUNTARY VERTICAL GATHERING PLACE AUTHORITY RELATIONSHIPS PERFORMANCE SPACE KNOWLEDGE NĀMGHAR SHELTER REPRESENTATION FLOOD RELIEF 19
    • ADAPTIVE CAPACITY TO CLIMATE  CHANGE6 • Rescheduling crop calendar and crop practice PURPOSEFUL • Greater involvement of traditional leaders like  • Soil conservation practices Gam and Gaon Burha in development programs • Construction of flood shelters • Traditional knowledge incorporated in flood and  • Flood relief measures erosion programs • Traditional stilt houses • Traditional knowledge incorporated in ecological  • Reconstruction work and heritage management 1 3 MATERIAL  INSTITUTIONAL  INTERVENTION MODIFICATION • Training in resource management 2 4 • Womens’ participation in traditional institutions  • Training in disaster mitigation and adaptation like Ke’bang, Namghar • Education for women and children • State intervention aimed at increasing  • Inventorising traditional knowledge cooperation between groups and fostering greater  participation INCIDENTAL 20
    • THREATS TO ADAPTIVE CAPACITY • Bureaucratic machinery  • State intervention along administrative  divisions • Culture of dependency • Opportunistic nature of organisations • Unhealthy nexus between formal and informal  interest groups  • Insurgency and counter‐insurgency 21
    • INFERENCES • Though Majuli displays a complex network of informal relationships  at the individual, village and inter‐village level, the network  weakens when it comes to vertical relationships • There is little recognition for the role that informal groups play or  can play in responding to internal or external shocks • Past disaster management approaches have been mostly limited to  flood relief by external agencies; involvement of the local  community has been marginal • The targeted ‘development’ and conservation programs may be a  contributing factor in increased social stratification and weakening  of informal relationships 22
    • CONCLUSION • Majuli’s case may be unique considering its  physiographic, environmental and heritage  context, but it is a living example of how the  underlying social fabric plays a significant role in  enhancing resilience of a community to internal  and external vulnerabilities    23
    • REFERENCES 1 Goswami D.C., Das P.J. (2005). The Brahmaputra River, India.  Accessed 1 November 2009 from  http://www.kalpavriksh.org 2 Buragohain, U (2002). Livelihood Strategies for Resource Management ‐ A Case Study of Majuli. Post  Graduation Dissertation. CEPT University. India 3 Das, P.J. (2009). Water and Climate Induced Vulnerability in Northeast India: Concerns For  Environmental Security And Sustainability. WATCH Research Report 1. AARANYAK. Guwahati, Assam,  India. Accessed 7 November 2009 from http://www.aaranyak.org 4  Bhuyan, A.  Sankardeva and Neo‐Vaishnavism in Assam. Accessed  5 November 2009 from  www.atributetosankaradeva.org 5 Mipun, J. (2000). The Mishings (Miris) of Assam: Development of a New Lifestyle. Accessed 1 November  2009 from http://www.themishingsassam.com 6 Pelling, M. (2003). Social Capital and Institutional Adaptation to Climate Change. RCC working paper 2.  Accessed 9 October 2009 from http://www.rcc.rures.net ACKNOWLEDEMENT I wish to acknowledge the telephone conversations I had with Ratna Bharali Talukdar (freelance  journalist) and my mother, Indira Gogoi. Their contribution greatly assisted my research.   24