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How does alternative land use policy in deltas affect food production and development: A case of the Mahanadi?

Project Description

Developing country river deltas are climate change hotspots and these are in urgent need of transdisciplinary research to address the drivers of social and physical vulnerability (Cochrane et al., 2017). Recent work in the Mahanadi Delta, in Odisha India, has highlighted the crushing impact on households of chronic poverty, social-cultural systems and repeated cycles of damaging natural hazards (Duncan et al., 2017). The impact is a poverty trap that few, if any, households are able to escape despite the presence of well-established social safety net programmes. Previous work in the area has highlighted that both land use and government policy towards land use and land tenure influenced people’s choices of livelihood activities in the delta. What remains unclear is what the impact of alternative land use policies have on development trajectories and poverty for the people who live in the delta.
The aim of this research is to address this research gap by investigating the impacts of alternative land use types, found in other deltas across the world, in the Mahanadi. Specifically, we will explore the impacts of alternative land use policy on: agricultural production, poverty, and migration, as these appear to be the main impact areas. The project will comprise four research objectives:
• Analyse the main types of land use policy, and the main areas of impacts of land use policy in other deltas, through literature review.
• Create a set of alternative scenarios of future land use, based on plausible policy choices, through discussions with Odisha policy makers and through desk-based analysis of pathways to other policy choices in other similar deltas
• Model the impact of alternative policy choices, drawing on remotely sensed data (food production), census data (population movements), and other indicators of wealth/poverty.
• Evaluate alternative policy choices on land use, applying a systems dynamic modelling approach to understand how key policy choices, e.g. protect, accommodate, retreat influence the development trajectory of deltas.
The project will benefit from the supervisors experience in interdisciplinary research in deltas, and within the Mahanadi specifically. This project brings together social adaptation to climate change risks and hazards and policy analysis (Tompkins) with application of remotely sensed and census based data (Dash) to explain large scale changes. By collaborating with Odisha State Disaster Management authority (OSDMA) and State department of Agriculture we will build on its experience of implementing disaster risk reduction/agricultural development policies to deliver applied outputs. Further, Dash, and Tompkins, have extensive research and government contacts in Mahanadi from earlier work.
The successful candidate will receive both FELS training, and Geography specific training in remote sensing, GIS and statistical analysis.

The ECaS research group focusses on climate change impacts and adaptation, sustainability science, and global environmental monitoring including innovative use of Earth observation data, including Earth system science. We have a world-leading reputation for research on climate change impacts and adaptation strategies, with lead authorships in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment report.

Candidates must have or expect to gain a first or strong upper second class degree, in an appropriate discipline, not necessarily Geography. For the latest information on postgraduate opportunities see

Funding Notes

This is one of a range of topics currently being advertised. Funding will go to the project(s) with the best applicant(s). The studentship is to be funded at UKRI level, currently £14,777 per annum, with an RTSG of £750. The studentship will fully support British and EU nationals only. International students can apply but they must be able to meet the difference between home/EU and International tuition fees themselves. This topic may also attract SMMI funding.

Related Subjects

How good is research at University of Southampton in Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 32.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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