Why uncertainty in community livelihood adaptation is important for adaptive delta management: A case study in polders of Southwest Bangladesh

Umme Kulsum, Jos Timmermans, Marjolijn Haasnoot, M. Shah Alam Khan, Wil Thissen

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Abstract

To deal with large uncertainties about future climate and socio-economic developments, planners in deltas are adopting an integrative and adaptive planning approach referred to as Adaptive Delta Management (ADM). Bangladesh has used the ADM approach for the development of its adaptive plan; Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 (BDP 2100). The success of policy strategies in an adaptive delta plan critically depends on a specific adaptation of livelihoods of local communities (Community Livelihood Adaptation; CLA), especially in an agriculture-oriented society like Bangladesh. For example, while triple rice cropping might be evaluated as a robust strategy in all futures considered, its success eventually depends on whether farmers’ will actually make that choice, which is deeply uncertain. In this paper, we use literature review, insights from interviews and field observations to examine how the uncertainty in CLA impacts (adaptive) delta management. We study two historical cases of livelihood adaptation of farmer communities confronted with salinization and waterlogging in the polders of southwest Bangladesh since the 1960s. We conclude that historically the uncertainty about CLA in polders has been ignored in the development of policy plans, leading to the failure of anticipated policy outcomes. We recommend planners in Bangladesh and other deltas worldwide to take account of CLA as uncertainty when developing long-term adaptive plans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-65
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Volume119
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Adaptive Delta Management
  • Bangladesh
  • Community Livelihood Adaptation
  • Polders
  • Uncertainty

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