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Ghosh a 20150709_1500_upmc_jussieu_-_room_101

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Ghosh a 20150709_1500_upmc_jussieu_-_room_101

  1. 1. Holding the last straw… Everyday disasters, climate change & human security for coastal communities in Indian Sundarbans Aditya Ghosh, MA Emily Boyd, PhD
  2. 2. Biodiversity Hotspot • Flora: 85, Vertebrate = 481, Hemichordate = 1, Invertebrate = 1104, Protozoan = 106, Mammals = 58, Birds = 248, Reptile = 55 Cultural / Environmental Heritage • Highest number of surviving Royal Bengal Tigers (500 aprx) • World’s largest mangrove ecosystem (16,000 sq km) • A UNESCO Heritage Site spread across India and Bangladesh Geography & ecology
  3. 3. And people….4.43 Million
  4. 4. Risk Governance • Resilience is incumbent on how ‘risk’ is defined (UNISDR 2015, Matyas & Pelling 2015) – Hazard, disaster risk management (DRM) studies and socio-economic systems (SES) approach • Differential adaptation and risk governance (Aldunce et al 2015) – Contesting discourses, shaped by institutional power struggles, cultural values of different communities, societal constellations, environmental beliefs, risk perceptions and knowledge • Environmental beliefs, risk perceptions and knowledge reflect in behavioural intentions and decision-making visible in discourses (Adger et al., 2001)
  5. 5. Research approach Key question -> Disaster risk reduction: A subject of ‘positivist’ vulnerability analysis or a product of power struggles shaped by different discourses? How does local perceptions shape risk governance? How do individuals and collective actions and responses play out across scales? Methodology -> • Ethnographic research (12 months) • Extensive qualitative interviews with individuals and groups (n=150) • Expert interviews with (n= 10) • Quantitative data (Source: Govt. of West Bengal, Census of India 2011)
  6. 6. • Autonomous adaptation observed in parallel at the household level and with regional consequences • Households coped through crisis migration when in-situ adaptive capacity met its limits • Household level transformations contribute to a depopulation of the region • Manifestations of hazards for people vis-à-vis risk governance within the policy remain in discursive conflict • Practitioners constructed the meaning of disaster resilience differently, embedded in diverse storylines, which in turn are contested by lived experiences and storylines of people • Thus the understanding of risk varies across scales, and compete against each other, locked in a power struggle Findings
  7. 7. A tidal bore in July 2014… • On July 12, 13, 14, 2014 a tidal bore ripped through the region. • About 45 Villages obliterated • However, it was still not a disaster as we define it…locally, nationally and internationally • Because it was defined as a tidal bore • At least five blocks with a combined population of at least 35,000 were affected • According to the locals and government authorities the scale of damage was severe than Aila, the super cyclone that struck the region in 2009 A tidal bore occurs along a coast where a river empties into an ocean or sea. A tidal bore is a strong tide that pushes up the river, against the current. A tidal bore is a true tidal wave. It is a surge, a sudden change in depth. When a channel suddenly gets deeper, it experiences a positive surge. When a channel suddenly gets shallower, it experiences a negative surge. Tidal bores are positive surges.
  8. 8. Estimation of losses (Source: Govt. of West Bengal, CA II report, departments of Disaster Relief and Irrigation, South 24 Parganas district, Office of District Magistrate Type of damage Units Rate of loss per unit Total Financial Loss Number of people 35000 Not assessed Not in record Crop area 2650 hectare Not assessed Do Aquaculture ponds 2072 Not assessed Do Total Inundation 5 sq km Not assessed Do Embankment Collapse 5.85 km €270,000 €270,000 Houses / Dwellings / Settlements destroyed 1000 completely As per National Disaster Management Protocol 4477 partially @ €1385 for complete destruction @ €692 for partial destruction € 1385000 € 3098084 €4,483,084 Total €4483084 €4,753,084 As per district level local assessment @ €245 for complete destruction @ €32 for partial destruction € 245000 € 141984 €386,984 Total: €386984 €656,984
  9. 9. Living precariously after the breach
  10. 10. Rethinking disasters: Definitions • “A serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society involving widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses and impacts, which exceeds the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources” (UNISDR 2015) • How Wide is Widespread? • What is the threshold of Resources? • Does it accommodate scalar subjectivities about perception and governance of risks?
  11. 11. Discussion and conclusions
  12. 12. Perceptions: – “Better, stronger and fool proof embankments are the only way to save the region” – a construction locked in policy cycle with both administrators and people – Futility in natural resource based livelihood & long term viability of agriculture Knowledge: – The Expert: “Must relinquish space to water” – Traditional and local knowledge about sustainability not incorporated in the new technology Values: – A strong value to the place in the older generation but waning in the younger ones – Value of traditional livelihoods waning too Response: – Youth migrate out in search of work, old, women and children stay back and often face extreme hardships and poverty – Those with social, human and financial capital are able to plan adaptation but those without are much more at risk Environment and development has shown that there can be trade-offs between equity and legitimacy where legitimacy emerges from the maintenance or enactment of highly hierarchical and exclusionary social relations (Agrawal, 2005)
  13. 13. Embankments: State’s instrument of authority, periphery of power • “The embankments in the reclaimed part do not allow the natural spill of silt-laden water and thus delta building is impaired. Hence, the parts reclaimed for agriculture and settlement stand at least at 2m lower than the non- reclaimed mangrove areas. There, the delta is still growing due to deposition” (Rudra 2014). An example of techno-centric policy gridlocks, held true for over two centuries, that is now believed to be true by the people also. Underscores urgent need of reviewing and rethinking earlier truth claims.
  14. 14. Policy Implications of risk governance for resilience Short term coping • Livelihood security – household level • Relief & rehabilitation – community & household level Long term adaptation • Asset & capital building – Household levels • Shifting development paradigm – integrating sustainability • Offering choices and ensuring human security – community & household (Sen & Ogata 2003)
  15. 15. Reframing disaster risk for resilience • Are the causes of hazard lay rooted in the political-economic system? Need to broaden the scope of vulnerability reduction to include transforming the social and political conditions that produce vulnerability in the first place (Wisner et al., 2004, p. 89; Ribot, 2010, 2011; O’Brien, 2011; Pelling, 2011) • A shift in the conceptualizing vulnerability and risk while resolving its contesting definitions (starting point/end point; vulnerability- led/impacts led; contextual/outcome) • From an economic and technological framing to a social framing, based on relational narratives that humanize the complexity of the problem • The new framing attempts to address the issue of social justice within the adaptation community raised by Adger et al., 2006; Grasso, 2010 • Human security is the protection of the ‘vital core of all human lives in ways that enhance human freedom and fulfillment’ (Ogata & Sen, 2003)
  16. 16. Acknowledgements • I am grateful to my supervisors, Dr. Marcus Nüsser and Dr. Emily Boyd for their consistent mentoring and guidance • I am grateful to Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) for funding my research since 2013 at the South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg, Germany • I am also thankful to Dr. Emily Boyd for agreeing to guide and assist me with this presentation

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