Wetskills-India (Sundarbans) 2022
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Wetskills-India (Sundarbans) 2022
November 27, 2022 - December 8, 2022
Let’s co-create solutions for water problems in the Sundarbans region
For this event we were in Calcutta and the Sundarbans region, the river delta wetlands with mangrove forests and many small islands.
Cases focus on important issues for the region: climate adaptation, empowerment of women for resilient communities, sustainable water supply in saline areas, soil erosion and more. What out-of the box solutions did the teams come up with?
As in all Wetskills events, the participants worked together in international multidisciplinary teams, with a program full of team work, field visits and workshops, a ‘Brain Hurricane’ and speed dates with experts. During the finals, all teams presented the solution for their case to the jury, with a poster and a pitch.
Case 1: Women empowerment for water resilient communities
Approximately five million people live in the Sundarbans. Many communities are economically, educationally and socially unprivileged mostly due to poor infrastructure facilities. Agriculture is predominant in the area. Yet many men go to the cities for jobs to create more income, leaving the women and youth in charge of the area. Those left behind have to take care of the agricultural activities, including local water management and are facing the impact of climate change. How can women become more empowered to create resilient communities to combat climate change and its various water challenges?
Case 2: Nature Based Solutions to stop soil erosion
The Sundarban Delta is facing problems with soil instability, loss of land and increased flood risks in the tidal area. Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) use the power of nature and healthy ecosystems to protect people, optimize infrastructure and safeguard a stable and bio-diverse future. The Delta could benefit from NBS, like in Lesotho where soil erosion blankets, made of different types of vegetation, have been successfully used to lower sedimentation in mountainous wetlands. This NBS system was based on solutions from a Wetskills team. How could the Sundarbans use the experiences of this soil erosion project in Lesotho? Can we create a plan to tackle soil instability by using (a combination of) NBS?
Case 3: Agricultural resilience to water management threats
Agriculture in the area is largely dependent on seasonal rainfall, and is therefore challenged due to droughts, or too much water (monsoons, typhoons), and salinity (higher sea level). Key to the further development of the Sundarbans is to ensure water security, by developing resilience against floods and droughts, and combat salinization by the creation of a secure freshwater environment on the islands and in the Sundarbans delta. How can agricultural sites in the Sundarbans become more climate resilient and better secure freshwater availability?
Case 4: Water governance in villages
After the installation of water management structures (like levees, pumps, locks) in Sundarbans villages, the next step is to provide for long-term operation and maintenance. This requires technical knowledge and skills, but also local water governance on responsibilities, troubleshooting and ownership. Such local water governance structures should be aligned with other, existing governance structures in the village, matching decision making and cost structures, and be based on relations between citizens. How can a village organize its water management, and incorporate new water structures, on the long term to become water resilient?