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Voluntary Labour and Climate Adaptation in the Indian Sundarbans

Voluntary Labour, Climate Adaptation & Disasters (VOCAD) Research Area

The research project "Voluntary labour, adaptation and climate crisis in the Indian Sundarbans" is led by Professor Matt Baillie Smith in collaboration with a team from Jadavpur University as part of the UKRI-GCRF Living Deltas Research Hub wider collaborative project.

The project focuses on the context of the Indian Sundarbans (Indian part of the Ganges‐Brahmaputra‐Meghna Delta) and Kolkata city, located in the Indian state of West Bengal, to generate new evidence on the ways individuals and organisations mobilise labour in their approaches to crisis response and adaptation.

It aims to understand the everyday ways delta dwellers undertake voluntary or unpaid work to respond to crises and or the changing environment and how this work is organised. It also explores the unpaid and voluntary labour of individuals and groups outside the Sundarbans in contributing to crisis response and responses to the changing climate, and how their labour impacts those present in the Sundarbans to build sustainable delta futures.

The research has the following objectives:

  • To conceptualise the different kinds of voluntary labour mobilised for climate adaptation and crises response in the Indian Sundarbans.
  • To analyse the different ways voluntary labour is managed and governed in strategies for adaptation and crises response by the civil society and private sector.
  • To assess the impacts of voluntary labour on adaptation, climate response and participants’ lives.
  • To increase understanding and awareness of the role of voluntary labour in crises response and adaptation.

The project’s activities involve qualitative and participatory visual research methods to engage with a diverse set of stakeholders in the Sundarbans region (Gosaba, Sagar and Basanti) and Kolkata, including current and former volunteers, regional and local grassroots level organisations, private sector organisations and communities affected by the changing delta environment.

For more information about the research, please contact Prof Matt Baillie Smith, Melisa Maida or Sumana Banerjee.


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