Hickey, G.


Science Direct

Year of Publication:


In this paper, we seek to better understand the temporal and spatial aspects of climatic stress on local resource production systems and resource-use behaviors by including the perspectives of resource-dependent communities. Field research was conducted over a nine-month period in the remote north-eastern floodplain communities of Bangladesh, considered one of the most climate-vulnerable, least developed and under-studied regions in the country. This area is heavily dominated by wetland ecosystems, and subjected to regular seasonal flood and extreme rainfall events. Beyond these regular stresses, flash-floods and drought are the two most destructive climatic stresses on livelihood sustainability in the area. Data were collected in 12 villages bordering two significant wetlands (Hakaluki haor and Tanguar haor), involving focus group discussions (n = 14), key informant interviews (n = 35) and household surveys (n = 356). Our results show that climatic stresses on rural livelihoods are catalyzed by human-induced environmental degradation and local resource use behaviors, contextual features that include both socio-economic and bio-physical properties. A climatic event appeared as a stress to livelihood sustainability when it happened in an untimely manner (e.g., flooding during resource harvesting periods) and directly affected the production process (e.g., agriculture and fisheries). We also found that human stress perceptions varied with the level of locally-driven innovation and adoption of technologies, which supports the important role of local experience and knowledge in adaptation planning. Further research is needed into how communities in different settings are already organizing to manage perceived climatic stresses, including traditional knowledge systems, local innovation networks and livelihood practices to help better contextualize adaptation policy.

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