The University of Southampton
Engineering and the Environment

Research project: Deltas, Vulnerability & Climate Change: Migration & Adaptation

Currently Active: 

Deltas contain large populations totalling about 500 million people worldwide. Deltas are extremely fertile and often support high population densities based on agriculture/fisheries. They are thus important for food security and also a major focus for development as many of the people living there are poor and reliant on subsistence livelihoods. Temporary and permanent migration is already a widespread phenomenon in deltas, and the fear is that future sea-level rise and sinking land levels coupled with other climate-linked environmental changes (e.g. drought, flooding, etc.) might mobilise large numbers of people and cause mass internal and international migration. The DECCMA project seeks to understand migration within deltas: how climate change and sea-level rise might influence it, and the extent to which it serves as an effective adaptation. Furthermore, it aims to provide better evidence to inform policy makers about the possible futures of deltas, how adaptation can mediate potentially adverse impacts of climate change, and the potential role of migration as an adaptation option. The project study sites are the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna delta (Bangladesh and India), Mahanadi delta (India) and Volta delta (Ghana).

Project Overview

The focus of DECCMA is on climate change and sea-level rise; however, many other drivers such as catchment management (e.g. sediment starvation due to dams), economic changes or governance can affect migration and other in-situ changes that are also considered. By definition, any response to a climate driver that reduces vulnerability to future climate risk can be considered as an adaptation. DECCMA aims to assess the adaptation options in the study areas (i.e. ones that reduce vulnerability, including for households, communities and the environment) and to identify the unsustainable coping and maladaptation strategies. Successful adaptation will suppress climate-induced migration, but migration may still occur for other reasons. Finally, DECCMA recognises that migration can have both negative and positive impacts on social systems. It aims to assess the motives of migration and under what conditions the migration might be considered successful. Thus DECCMA aims to provide insight into the larger scale processes, AND unpack the local community processes and the intra-household dynamics, including gender roles and relations. To achieve such an ambitious goal, several sectoral analysis are being conducted (biophysical, demography and migration and economic assessments), governance and stakeholder assessments and adaptation is also being assessed. To draw these diverse components together an integrated assessment framework and an integrated model is being developed, including relevant scenarios to consider future changes. The results are designed to be policy relevant and transferable to other deltas

Funding body: Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA)

Duration: 2014-2018


Associated research themes

DECCMA project website

ESPA Deltas research project page

ESPA Deltas Project website

This project is attached to:

Geodata website

Geography and Environment website

Social Sciences website

CARIAA programme website

Research group: Civil, Maritime and Environmental Engineering and Science


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