Gibika and Resillience Academy: Livelihood Resilience in Bangladesh – Turning Research into Action

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    Sonja Ayeb-Karlsson

    THE GIBIKA PROJECT: A climate-resilient and sustainable future for people in vulnerable countries starts with resilient livelihoods. There is an urgent need to turn knowledge about livelihood threats, shocks, trajectories and opportunities into operable solutions. The aims of the Gibika research-to-action project are to advance the scientific understanding of livelihood resilience in Bangladesh, and to apply conclusions towards community-led solutions that improve the living conditions of vulnerable people. When livelihood systems are not resilient, environmental shocks can have long-term impacts on human well-being and development goals. By implementing community-led action, this project can promote livelihood resilience, and sustainable development. Gibika is a five-year research-to-action partnership between International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) and Munich Re-Foundation (MRF) with the objective of improving the living conditions of people in our seven sites in Bangladesh. KEY GOALS: * Generate rigorous scientific knowledge about resilience in livelihood systems * Empower communities in action design, decision-making and implementation * Transform livelihoods of communities in Bangladesh to make them more resilient to environmental stress and shocks * Disseminate findings, insights and experiences to influence national policy and facilitate wider use and replicate action and lessons learned both on a national and international level WORKING METHODS: * Livelihood Histories (LH) * Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) * Household surveys * Focus group discussions * Expert interviews * Community consultation * Participatory project evaluation tools * Implementation activities STUDY SITES AND ENVIRONMENTAL STRESS: * Dalbanga South in Barguna district, Barisal division (riverbank erosion, cyclones, floods, water logging and saline intrusion) * Mazer Char in Pirozpur district, Barisal division (riverbank erosion, cyclones and saline intrusion) * Gabtola in Bagherhat district, Khulna division (cyclone and riverbank erosion) * Singpur in Kishoreganj district, Dhaka division (riverbank erosion, floods and land loss) * Babupur in Naogaon district, Rajshahi division (droughts and dry spells) * Jamalpur in Naogaon district, Rajshahi division (droughts and dry spells) * Bhola Slum in Dhaka City, Dhaka division (flood, standing water, public health) In April and May 2013, the project partners undertook field work to identify and select sites in Bangladesh that were representative of livelihood systems experiencing extreme environmental adversity. The aim was to find sites in the three principal stress clusters affecting Bangladesh: * Cyclone related threats on the coast; * Riverbank erosion related threats in flood plains; * Drought related threats in the dry lands. The rationale for these additional criteria was that sites with historical experience with stress, and high inputs for adaptation would have insight on confronting challenges that could be readily transmitted to sites with recent experience and low adaptation inputs. After long consultations the team was able to identify potential sites, and implement the site selection methods. At least one focus group discussion per site was conducted (in some sites more), and two semi-structured “expert” interviews with a representative of an affected household and with someone knowledgeable about local environmental risks. It was decided to include two additional sites: one on the coast and one in Dhaka. The coastal site is experiencing extremes associated with each tropical storm, but also recently begun facing the types of environmental stresses associated with sea level rise. A slum in Dhaka was included because many of the rural people who are presently affected by environmental stress will be living in slum areas in the future. The project team found two slum areas composed of environmentally-induced migrants, and decided to include one of those among our sites. THE RESILIENCE ACADEMY: The annual Resilience Academy (2013-2017) is a platform for connecting communities of expertise (early phase practitioners, academics, and policy analysts), examining livelihood resilience in the face of local and regional environmental threats. Journal articles and policy briefs produced in the context of the academy aim at influencing big policy milestones in the area of Climate Change Adaptation, Disaster Risk Reduction, Humanitarian Response and Development in 2015 and beyond. In 2015 and 2016, the Resilience Academy will have a special focus on the emerging issue of climate-induced loss and damage. The Resilience Academy builds on a long-standing partnership between MRF and UNU-EHS who together organized seven Summer Academies and a keystone conference bringing all the Summer Academy participants together one last time under the aegis of the Chair on Social Vulnerability. RESILIENCE ACADEMY THEMES: * Resilience Academy 2013: Exploring Livelihood Resilience amidst global transitions. * Resilience Academy 2014: Transformations, forced- and managed transitions and abrupt changes of livelihoods. * Resilience Academy 2015: Enhancing Resilience to Minimize Loss and Damage – Providing Knowledge for the UNFCCC. WORKING PAPERS AND PUBLICATIONS: UNU-EHS is publishing a series of working papers written by Resilience Academy participants in support of the core argument of the paper “Livelihood resilience in the face of climate change”, which appeared in Nature Climate Change (…). The electronic copies of the working papers can be found under publications, working papers (