Implications and management of Coastal Salinity for Sustainable Community Livelihood: Case study from the Indian Sundarban Delta

In Coastal Management: Global Challenges and Innovations
Chapter: 13
Book Chapter

Salinity is one of the major drivers of environmental change and a persistent stressor in coastal areas, often resulting from prolonged storm and tidal surge flooding. Especially in case of the Asian Mega Deltas, where vast number of communities depends on coastal agriculture as sole livelihood, salinity is compounding as an immediate as well as potential threat for future. It is further expected that the adverse impacts of unfavorable soil and inland water salinity will continue rise with the onset of global sea level rise and subsequent hydrological changes. Under this backdrop, this chapter aims to understand the existing and potential threats of salinity in coastal agriculture and challenges in sustaining the traditional agro-based livelihood in low-lying coastal areas. Focusing on the agro-rural communities of the lower Gangetic Delta (aka Indian Sundarban Delta), the study aims to understand the impact of salinity in local agricultural productivity, particularly with respect to the devastation caused by prolonged flooding during Cyclone Aila in 2009. Analyzing in details the critical consequences of the salinity impacts on coastal agriculture, especially in the traditional rice cultivation practices, this chapter advocates for up scaling some of the potential farm level adaptation methods to negate its adverse impacts. In conclusion, the chapter argues the need for the development of an anticipatory agricultural adaptation plan and integration of ‘adaptation’ within the existing scopes of ‘Integrated Coastal Zone Management’ plan.