In order to explore and assess rainwater-based adaptation practices Gabura, a southwestern coastal settlement of Bangladesh is studied. An interpretive methodology, which deals with explaining meaning, technicalities and human experience, is adopted in this study as a philosophical framework. In order to assess how the communities and households cope with water related problems intensive field study is conducted. The techniques adopted to conduct field study include technical drawings & documentation of measures used in built environmental adjustments, settlement mapping, observation of use & activities, Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and Semi Structured Interviews (SSI). Data analysis is done by detailed study of technical measures, SWOT Matrix and reflection.
Results and Discussion:
Since time immemorial, the fisherman and farmer communities in Gabura have been coping with surge water, flood water, water logging, and salinity intrusion problems using indigenous knowledge and experiences transferred from their ancestors (Parvin and Johnson, 2012). Crisis of sweet water is part of everyday life in Gabura. Cyclone damages all the sources (ponds and tube wells) of drinking water and sanitation facilities. High tidal surges contaminate all fresh water sources with polluted saline water. The study reveals how coastal communities rely on their indigenous knowledge at every step of anticipation, coping, adaptation and recovery. The result shows the communities overcome scarcity of sweet water by harvesting rainwater at every household using very simple traditional techniques and materials. At community level, they prepare some ponds as reservoir to collect and save rainwater for crisis period. Based on empirical findings the study develops a conceptual model for developing adaptation strategies and argues that, any intervention towards the development of adaptation strategies should be based primarily on local adaptation practices.
The study explores how best they utilize available resources and skills before taking help of the external agencies. Unfortunately, local adaptation practices is yet to find much recognition in policy making (Parvin and Johnson, 2014) or in modern disaster management theories and practices, which are increasingly driven by concepts, tools and practices, and are somewhat alien to the traditional communities. The onslaught of the so-called modern and quick fix solutions have threatened the vast pool of indigenous knowledge with extinction. Therefore, it is important to avoid too common categorization of traditional and scientific knowledge into mutually exclusive domains (Flavier, et al., 1995). Rather there is an urgent need to explore, document, and learn from local adaptation practices. The study reveals that traditional strategies are dynamic and continually influenced by the internal creativity and experimentation as well as contact with external systems. The study reveals that traditional strategies are dynamic and continually influenced by the internal creativity and experimentation as well as contact with external systems. This continuous process of experimentation, innovation and adaptation enables local adaptation practices to be flexible enough to blend with science and technology as well. Owing to the changing disaster context, it has become extremely important to find strategies to reconcile the two; where science can enable traditional practices to be easily understood by the professionals, and traditional knowledge enables scientific concepts to be translated into modes of communication that are locally understood (Flavier, et al., 1995).
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