Completed Project

Vulnerability Assessment in the Indian Sundarbans

Agency : Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway

Team Upasona Ghosh, Arnab Mandal, Sabyasachi Mandal

The project assessed the significance of various aspects of vulnerability for the people in the Indian Sundarbans living under the changing climatic situation. A combination of household surveys and participatory rural appraisal techniques was used. It also aimed to explain how the vulnerability of the Sundarbans’ people is perceived by the experts, policymakers and by the community itself. The project followed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to assess the aspects of vulnerability in terms of three dimensions: exposure, sensitivity, and adaptation. Exposure, defined as the natural hazards to which different communities are exposed, is sometimes excluded from assessments. The objective, in such cases, was to examine vulnerability (sensitivity and adaptation) at a given level of natural hazards. Exposure was excluded from our study since people in a single community were generally exposed in equal measure to natural hazards. The metrics of the hazard itself – for example, a flood – do not vary across the community. What varies is how sensitive each household is to this hazard in terms of its effects, and how it adapts to these effects through mitigation and response. The project was expected to come up with rigorous scientific empirical data on vulnerability assessment in extremely micro-level settings and contributed well to future research of similar nature. The findings were expected to lead to a greater understanding of how the vulnerability is experienced in small communities. Such an understanding helped policymakers and program implementers to design appropriate measures for disaster preparedness in small communities.