Climate Change and Aggravated High Tide Flooding: Co-Creation of Community Resilience – Media Workshop

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Over the past few years, the State of Kerala has faced numerous climate disasters. Sea level rise due to climate change, increase in temperature in the oceans, changes in the water level in the local dams, etc. have caused disasters of varying levels and intensity across the coastal areas of Kerala. Among these disasters, the most often repeated and highly significant includes tidal flooding which in fact has attracted less attention.

After the 2018 floods, these floods have intensified leading to breaching of earlier thresholds of rising, more days under flooded tide waters, cluster occurrences of floods that last more than a month and accumulated impacts due to near-permanent inundation of saline water in homes and homesteads. The Ernakulam District, which is surrounded by backwaters, is the most affected area in Kerala due to tidal flooding. Understanding the changes happening in the surroundings holistically is one of the most important resilience-action in this time of climate change.

In this context, a workshop was conducted at North Paravur on 12th October 2022 as part of our project to sensitise the local media on the regional impacts of the global climate crisis. The workshop was jointly organised by Equinoct, MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, Community Resource Center Puthanvelikara, Asar and Resilient Destination Foundation in collaboration with Ernakulam District Panchayat and Ernakulam District Disaster Management.

Sri K Rajagopal, Director of Media Academy inaugurated the workshop. “Local knowledge, needs and opinions have never played a role in our development concepts. A case in point is the history of Ahards in Attapadi. But in times of global climate change, local knowledge, observations and experiences are becoming increasingly important”, said Sri K Rajagopal. Smt. M Suchitra, a noted environmental journalist, delivered the keynote address on “Challenges faced by media in the time of climate change”. Dr C G Madusoodhanan, a climate expert and hydrologist, also presented a paper on tidal flooding.

The local people and the reporters shared their knowledge and experiences of living through the climate crisis on a daily basis.The workshop also released an innovative calendar to get tangible data on tidal flooding. At present, there is no factual documentation of the number of days tidal flooding happens, the extent of it, the number of times it happens etc.