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Climate Adaptation, Food and Water Security in the Indian Sundarbans

Researchers from India and Australia are addressing food and water security challenges through collaboration and inclusive solutions.

Overview

In the densely populated Sundarbans region of South Asia, residents grapple with the harsh realities of climate change on a daily basis. Despite the looming threats of submergence, tidal surges, and frequent severe storms, some people are more vulnerable than others.

This research project examines the equity of climate adaptation policies and programs in addressing the food and water security needs of individuals, especially women and vulnerable groups. It specifically examines how climate change impacts individuals' food and water security, considering factors like gender, age, disability, and minority group status. 

The study is centred in Ghoramara Island, an area with limited existing research on the perspectives of its climate-affected communities. The project aims to amplify the voices of those directly affected by climate change, providing them with an opportunity to shape the design of climate adaptation strategies. 

This collaborative research initiative involves the Australian National University, the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, and Rabindra Bharati University. Supported by the Australia-India 'Unnati' Research Collaboration Grants, the project highlights the commitment of both nations to addressing the pressing challenges posed by climate change.

Outcomes

To date, the research has involved detailed data collection and analysis, guided by a semi-structured interview framework. Simultaneously, knowledge sharing thrived through a student Community of Practice (CoP) and a larger symposium, fostering discussions and new connections among researchers, students, and professionals.

The project also extended its efforts to community training with vulnerable populations on Ghoramara Island, specifically addressing food and water security. In collaboration with the Development Research Communication and Services Centre (DRCSC), a needs assessment was conducted, and training sessions on gardening and animal farming were coordinated. Incentives, including local seeds and chicks, were distributed to participants at the end of the training.

Master trainers Ms. Manasi Maity and Ms. Maya Sarkar, who are associated with DRCSC, with the training participants.
Master trainers Ms. Manasi Maity and Ms. Maya Sarkar, who are associated with DRCSC, with the training participants.

The training participants found the sessions insightful, gaining awareness about the nutritional and medicinal value of local plants and the significance of cultivating a nutrition garden. In particular, they were pleased to learn eco-friendly practices such as preparing compost, natural pesticides, and high-yielding seeds. The training also instilled useful knowledge on livestock rearing, vaccinations, and financial literacy. Many participants expressed interest in becoming trainers in the future. 

Banner image: Training participants on Ghoramara Island

Funding partners

This project is funded by the Australia India ‘Unnati’ Research Collaboration Grants and ANU Institute for Climate, Energy & Disaster Solutions. The Unnati Grants are supported by the Australian Government Department of Education.