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Title: Vulnerability and adaptation of fishing communities to the impacts of climate variability and change : insights from coastal Bangladesh
Author: Islam, Md Monirul
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2013
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Abstract:
Climate variability and change are predicted to impact on coastal and marine smallscale fisheries and dependent communities. They have been adapted to the normal range of climate variability and its impacts, but additional adaptation will be required to address the increased impacts of climate change. Migration is regarded as one strategy to adapt to these impacts but debates surround its successfulness. Fishing communities can adapt in many ways and migration is one example. However, limits and barriers can prevent adaptation being successful or reduce vulnerability. Studies on vulnerability, adaptation and limits and barriers to adaptation are therefore preconditions for the fishing communities to develop effective adaptation strategies to face climate variability and change. Despite considerable studies on the impact of climate change on aquatic ecosystems and fish stocks, the macro scale fishery-dependent economies and their people, and on vulnerability and adaptation in agricultural communities, there has been insufficient examination of the vulnerability and adaptation of small-scale fishing communities to climate variability and change. This thesis therefore assesses the vulnerability and adaptation to the impacts of climate variability and change, in three small-scale coastal fishing communities in Bangladesh. Using a mixed method approach, particular focus is given to the assessment of livelihood vulnerability, the investigation of the outcomes of climate induced migration, and the exploration of limits of and barriers to adaptation. Results highlight that the level of livelihood vulnerability not only differs between communities but also between different household groups within a community, depending on their level of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity. Exposure to floods and cyclones; sensitivity (such as dependence on small-scale marine fisheries for livelihoods); and lack of adaptive capacity in terms of physical, natural and financial capital and diverse livelihood strategies construe livelihood vulnerability in different ways depending on the context. Results show that the most exposed community is not necessarily the most sensitive or least able to adapt because livelihood vulnerability is a result of combined but unequal influences of biophysical and socio-economic characteristics of communities and households. Within a fishing community, where households are similarly exposed, higher sensitivity and lower adaptive capacity combine to create higher vulnerability. Migration may be a viable strategy to respond to climate variability and change. Results show that migration has generated several positive outcomes for households that resettled. The resettled households are now less exposed to floods, sea level rise and land erosion than those who stayed behind. They have also more livelihood assets and better access to them. They enjoy higher incomes, better health, better access to water supply, health and educational services, technology and markets than the households who remained in their original settlement. The thesis also establishes that fishing communities face multiple limits and barriers to adaptation of fishing activities to cyclones, however. Limits include physical characteristics of climate and sea, such as higher frequency and duration of cyclones, and hidden sandbars. Barriers include technologically poor boats, inaccurate weather forecasts, poor radio signals, lack of access to credit, low incomes, underestimation of cyclone occurrence, coercion of fishermen by the boat owners and captains, lack of education, skills and livelihood alternatives, unfavourable credit schemes, lack of enforcement of fishing regulations and maritime laws, and lack of access to fish markets. These local and wider scale factors interact in complex ways and constrain completion of fishing trips, coping with cyclones at sea, safe return of boats from sea, timely responses to cyclones and livelihood diversification. Overall, this thesis contributes empirical evidence to current debates in the literature on climate change by enhancing an understanding of the characteristics and determinants of livelihood vulnerability, migration as an adaptation strategy and limits and barriers to the adaptation of fishing communities to climate variability and change. The findings of this thesis form the basis for further detailed research into the vulnerability and adaptation of small-scale fishing communities to climate variability and change. Based on the above findings, this thesis also provides some suggestions for reducing vulnerability and for developing effective adaptation strategies.
Supervisor: Paavola, Jouni ; Sallu, Susannah Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.595157  DOI: Not available
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