Autonomous adaptation to riverine flooding in Satkhira District, Bangladesh: insights for transformation

Systematic understanding of adaptation measures utilised by households in developing countries is needed to identify the constraints they face, and the external interventions or adaptation planning needed to overcome them. Ecological-resilience, political-ecology, and risk-hazard approaches have dominated research on climate change adaptation and they have mostly focused on incremental adaptation. This article examines to what extent these approaches can shed light on the less studied transformational adaptations. It tests their relative merits by analysing autonomous livelihood adaptations to riverine flooding in Satkhira District, Southwest Bangladesh, using semi-structured household interviews as primary material. Migration and adoption of aquaculture are the key transformational adaptations occurring in the case study. The risk-hazard approach appears most suitable for exploring transformational adaptations because of its capacity for understanding how households respond to livelihood risk, and what resources are required for it to be most effective. However, elements from political-ecology and ecological-resilience are needed to ensure that equity considerations and long-term implications are given sufficient emphasis.