A qualitative assessment of natural and anthropogenic drivers of risk to sustainable livelihoods in the Indian Sundarban

Banerjee, S., Chanda, A., Ghosh, T., Cremin, E. and Renaud, F. G. (2023) A qualitative assessment of natural and anthropogenic drivers of risk to sustainable livelihoods in the Indian Sundarban. Sustainability, 15(7), 6146. (doi: 10.3390/su15076146)

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In the Indian Sundarban, multiple attributes and interactions of natural hazards, exposure, and vulnerability pose severe threats to lives and livelihoods. Understanding the cause-and-effect relationships contributing to the risk of loss of sustainable livelihoods has become imperative but has not yet been holistically explored in a single study that provides a broader picture of all possible complex interactions. This study used the impact chain tool to holistically understand the risk that manifests as a result of interactions of hazards, exposure, and vulnerability. The secondary literature and authors’ observations helped us structure the first draft of the impact chain, which was further developed and validated through fourteen gender-disaggregated interviews with key informants and delta dwellers. This validation process identified the complex interconnections contributing to risk as experienced by experts and delta dwellers, which is seldom reflected through exclusively quantitative data. A quantitative analysis of the qualitative data strongly indicated that tropical cyclones, rainfall variability, and storms are the dominant hazards that affect social–ecological vulnerability manifested through mangrove degradation, land loss due to erosion, and embankment breaching. Social vulnerability is caused by processes and factors that are either directly or indirectly influenced by natural hazards and social–ecological factors. Processes such as increasing seasonal male migration, uncertain agricultural income, and a lack of hazard-resistant housing exacerbates social vulnerability. Embankment breaching, the salinization of land and water, land loss due to erosion, mangrove degradation, land conversion, and groundwater abstraction were identified as the fundamental threats that can lead to a loss of sustainable livelihoods of the people if left unaddressed.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:We acknowledge the funding received from the UKRI GCRF Living Deltas Hub under Grant Reference NE/S008926/1.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Renaud, Professor Fabrice and Cremin, Dr Emilie
Creator Roles:
Cremin, E.Conceptualization, Writing – review and editing
Renaud, F. G.Conceptualization, Writing – review and editing, Supervision, Funding acquisition
Authors: Banerjee, S., Chanda, A., Ghosh, T., Cremin, E., and Renaud, F. G.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social & Environmental Sustainability
Journal Name:Sustainability
ISSN (Online):2071-1050
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2023 by the authors
First Published:First published in Sustainability 15(7):6146
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

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