The hydro-environment and livelihoods in coastal Bangladesh.

Attila Lazar, Robert J. Nicholls, Craig Hutton, Helen Adams, Andres Payo, Mashfiqus Salehin, Anisul Haque, Derek Clarke, Lucy Bricheno, Jose A. Fernandes, Dilruba Begum, Sylvia Szabo, Emily Barbour, Andrew Allan

Chair(s): Esther Stouthamer

Tuesday 30 june 2015

16:20 - 16:40h at Asia (level 0)

Themes: (T) Special session, (ST) Deltas from multiple pressures to integrated solutions

Parallel session: 7C. Special session: Deltas - from multiple pressures to integrated solutions.

Deltas represent one of the most densely populated areas in the world. This is especially true for the coastal zone of Bangladesh where more than a thousand people live in each square kilometre of land. Livelihoods, food security and poverty in Bangladesh are strongly dependent on natural resources affected by several factors including climate variability and change, upstream river flow modifications, commercial fish catches in the Bay of Bengal, and engineering interventions such as polderisation. The scarcity of fresh water, saline water intrusion and natural disasters (e.g. river flooding, cyclones and storm surges) have negative impact on drinking water availability and crop irrigation potential; thus severely affect land use and livelihood opportunities of the coastal population. Hydro-environmental changes can be especially detrimental for the well-being of the poorest households that are highly dependent on natural resources. The ESPA Deltas project aims to holistically examine the interaction between the coupled bio-physical environment and the livelihoods of these poor populations in coastal Bangladesh. Here we describe a new integrated model that allows the long-term analysis of the possible changes in this system by linking projected changes in physical processes (e.g. river flows, nutrients), with productivity (e.g. fish, rice), social processes (e.g. access, property rights, migration) and governance/management (e.g. fisheries, agriculture, water and land use management). This integrated approach is designed to provide Bangladeshi policy makers with science-based evidence of possible development trajectories within the coastal delta plain over timescales up to 50 years, including the likely robustness of different governance options on natural resource conservation and poverty levels. This presentation describes the model framework and aims to illustrate the cause-effect relationship in-between changes of the hydro-environment and the livelihoods of the coastal population of Bangladesh. Thus, it adds the human dimension to an civil engineering modelling approach.