Project envisioning

The discussion on ‘envisioning the project’ was centred on a few points – i) planning for local inceptions, ii) designing research methodology, and iii) research management (data sharing and data management). The Indian team targeted to ensure greater involvement of government officials during the subsequent phase of the project. The methodology section was designed by following an Archival to Ethnographic Exploration (A2E) approach whereas the archival part involves the consultation of the mainstream archive and oral history to have a better understanding of the Sundarbans as a ‘risk scope’. On primary data sources colonial archives (survey reports, district gazetteers, etc.) and revenue records would be consulted. The targeted timeline for the same is from July to November 2023. The country partners also felt the requirement of developing land use and land cover maps of both the study sites. Also, the first six months have been aimed to be invested in a systemic literature (both the academic and grey literature) review to capture many aspects of risks with the social-ecological system of Sundarbans. Based on these, the country teams would design their ethnographic field explorations. The country partners perceived that the targeted interventions must be performed by ensuring the effective participation all the stakeholders in a synergy of local activity, global connectivity, and academic responsibility. As most of the colonial data from the undivided Sundarbans are available at the West Bengal State Archive and other Archives in India, it is decided that the Indian team will take the lead in the archival front.

Figure 9. Project envisioning discussion at Sajida Foundation’s office

The second phase of the ‘Envisioning’ meeting was organized at the ULAB after having fresh insights from the exposure field trip to the Bangladesh Sundarbans. The teams aimed to work on the key themes of 1. experiments, 2. key Issues, 3. risks, 4. social resilience and 5. key indicators from both the Sundarbans. Previously it had been decided to exchange the data and ethnographic research tools like PPI (Probability Possibility Index) and SVA (Social Vulnerability Analysis) as employed by the Bangladeshi implementation partner Sajida Foundation. Later they decided to have an online exchange on the same which has been scheduled on July 10, 2023. It will be instrumental for the country teams (especially India) to design their desirable set of questionnaires which would cover a variety of themes. On the Indian front, it is chalked out to cover almost 450 households in terms of a questionnaire survey at Kumirmari village by mid-September with the joint involvement of the SJSM (Sundarban Jana Sramajibi Manch) and the IIT KGP team.

Figure 10. Project envisioning discussion at ULAB

The meeting also attempted to trace the desirable avenues to posit the project on the global map of big projects. The partners decided to showcase the insights through story narratives and photo essays. The partners also aimed to put a close eye on the policy ambit, especially in terms of Climate Action Plans both at the national and state level along with the analysis of the MoU on transboundary Sundarbans. Also, targets are fixed on analyzing the policy reports on governance, land use policy, and the political economy of the Sundarbans to come up with a policy review by January to March 2024. The country teams also discussed the data-sharing techniques and resource management in subsequent phases of the project.