Ghana, India, Bangladesh

DEltas, vulnerability and Climate Change:
Migration and Adaptation

DECCMA’s aims were to evaluate the effectiveness of adaptation options—including migration—in deltas in Africa and Asia, and to deliver policy support for sustainable, gender-sensitive adaptation. The project analysed the impacts of climate change and processes of migration across contrasting deltas using survey, participatory research and economic methods. Study sites included the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna delta in Bangladesh and India, Mahanadi delta in India and Volta delta in Ghana.

The consortium includes:

  • Institute of Water and Flood Management, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Bangladesh
  • Jadavpur University (JU), India
  • University of Ghana (OG), Ghana
  • University of Southampton, UK (DECCMA lead institution)
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Large tracts of land at low lying elevation make deltas vulnerable to sea-level rise and other climate change impacts. Deltas have some of the highest population densities in the world; in total with 500 million, often poor, residents. The adaptive strategies available to deltas residents may not be adequate to cope with pervasive, systematic, or surprise changes associated with climate change. Moreover, sea-level rise and sinking land levels could displace large numbers of people. However, a range of temporary and permanent migration is already a widespread phenomenon in deltas, and in some cases, migration could be to the benefit of the migrants. 

DECCMA's overarching aims were to evaluate the effectiveness of adaptation options in deltas, assess migration as an adaptation in deltaic environments under a changing climate, and deliver policy support to create the conditions for sustainable gender-sensitive adaptation. 



DECCMA’s objectives were to:

1. Understand the governance mechanisms that promote or hinder migration of men and women in deltas.

2. Identify climate change impact hotspots in deltas where vulnerability will grow and adaptation will be needed.

3. Understand the conditions that promote migration and its outcomes, as well as gender-specific adaptation options for trapped populations, via surveys.

4. Understand how climate-change-driven global and national macro-economic processes impact on migration of men and women in deltas.

5. Produce an integrated systems-based bio-physical and socio-economic model to investigate potential future gendered migration under climate change.

6. Conceptualise and evaluate migration within a wide suite of potential adaptation options at both the household and delta level.

7. Identify feasible and desirable adaptation options and support implementation of stakeholder led gender-sensitive adaptation policy choices.



DECCMA looked at the impacts of climate change and other environmental drivers across three contrasting deltas in Africa and Asia: the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna in Bangladesh and India, the Volta in Ghana and the Mahanadi in India. 

In each of these deltas, the consortium analysed processes of migration using survey, participatory research and economic methods, and contrasted potential migration of men and women with other adaptation approaches using a stakeholder-driven and co-produced integrated assessment approach.

The work was carried out through six work packages (WPs):

     o WP1 had the purpose of engaging stakeholders in the project, understanding the capacity of the governance system to support migration in the context of other adaptation, and leaving a policy and practical legacy from the research. 

     o WP2 examined the vulnerability, environmental stressors and hazards of a range of climate change and biophysically driven scenarios across the four study deltas. 

     o WP3 is assessed migration as an adaptation in deltaic environments with a changing climate. 

     o WP4's purpose was to provide a tool that allows policy makers to see how different climate scenarios affect the economic options in the delta and how these in turn affect vulnerability and sustainability in the region.

     o WP5 is developed methods to assess adaptation choices in deltas with a strong focus on migration. It integrate-d the results of WP2, WP3 and WP4.

     o WP6 identified and evaluated the scope, types, and sustainability of adaptation options (including migration) occurring in deltas. 



By creating networks of stakeholders within the deltas at different scales including community, NGOs, government and researchers, DECCMA generated robust and credible evidence about current adaptation that supports the work of stakeholders. Engaged stakeholders in policy and practice demanded the consortium’s results, which were incorporated into policy and practice. In this way, DECCMA contributed to a situation where key stakeholders, including the most vulnerable deltaic communities had the capacities (institutions, systems, practices and skills) that enabled them to make evidence-based choices for coping with current variability and potential climate change. Where responses to change involve leaving the delta, migrants had the capacities to enable them to follow sustainable livelihoods in new locations. 


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The DECCMA team was composed of researchers from organizations based in Ghana, India, Bangladesh, and the UK.


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