River island community’s resilience to disasters, climate change in focus

GUWAHATI: :  A workshop on “Community resilience to water induced disaster and climate change: Vulnerability and adaptation in Brahmaputra River Basin” dealt in detail with various problems faced by the community in three of Brahmaputra river islands – Majuli (Majuli district), Chalakura Char (Dhubri district) and Kobu Chapori (Dhemaji district)- in Assam.

The workshop for key stakeholders was organised by Water, Climate and Hazard (WATCH) Division of Aaranyak, a top-bracket biodiversity conservation and environmental research organisation in Northeast India, at the Indian Institute of Bank Management here on January 9, 2020.

Dr Partha J Das, Head, WATCH Division and Organising Secretary of Aaranyak, set the ball rolling by elaborating on importance of the workshop. He gave a presentation on a research study entitled “Community resilience to water induced disasters and climate change: A study and documentation of good practices in selected river islands of the Brahmaputra River Basin, Assam” which was carried out recently by WATCH Division of Aaranyak.

He explained the process of formation of the river islands, determinants of vulnerability and adaptation. He also provided basic information on chars (river islands) of Assam and the objective of the study.

Dr. Veena Kanduri, Executive Secretary of India Water Partnership(IWP), New Delhi, which supported the project,  presented about their vision and Mission, their aim, different Goals, etc.

Ms. Bedika Borah, Mr. Wahis Hussain and Mr. Navajyoti Deuri presented detailed case studies on Majuli, Chalakura Chalakura Char and Kobu Chapori respectively.  Mr. Arup Das of the Geospatial Technology Application Division of Aaranyak explained the findings from a GIS-Remote Sensing based study of the tree river islands of the Brahmaputra river.

The presentations were followed by a panel discussion that was participated by Mr. P Changkakati, Former Water Resources Secretary to the Government of Assam; Dr Arnab Sarma, Faculty in Water Resources Engineering, Royal Global University; Mr. Moferjal Sarkar, District Project Officer (Disaster Management), Dhubri District; Dr. Veena Khanduri and Dr Jaydeep Baruah, Scientific Officer, Head I/C ASTEC.

Dr. Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, CEO and Secretary General of Aaranyak, enlightened the participants in the programme about the aims, objectives and works so far done on a mission mode by Aaranyak since its inception over 30 years back.

The workshop concluded that the river islands are the most disaster prone areas of Assam and the inhabitants of the chars are the most vulnerable population of the state because of lack of socioeconomic empowerment, development infrastructure and effective disaster management and climate change adaptation programs. The workshop urged that Both Government and Non-Government Development Agencies should treat the river islands and their people as a special case and prepare specific policies and action plan to reduce their risk of disaster and climate change at a war footing.

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