The livelihoods of rural communities in West Bengal and Bangladesh are affected by a diverse but interlinked range of factors. A major component of the SIAGI project involves integrated assessment (IA) and modelling, which provides a systematic and transparent approach to exploring the linkages and feedbacks between different system components (social, climate, market, health, environmental and policy). We developed a series of interacting IA frameworks based on three main themes:
- Local water management – this component focuses on how local water governance and community engagement affect available freshwater resources.
- Inclusive Value Chain Analysis – this component assesses the factors determining the produceability and marketability of a product, and its subsequent links to the desired outcomes of farmers, which is often but not limited to income-related outcomes.
- Empowering change – this component represents the psychosocial processes related to behavioural change that underlie other components. Empowerment is treated as a process of change which we examine through pathways of motivation, self-efficacy, agency and access to resources.
A basic overview of the overarching IA framework and its three components and their interactions is shown below.
This IA work has helped to formalise the team’s common understanding of the system. The frameworks are grounded in both theory and observations from the SIAGI project activities, and were iteratively developed with input from stakeholders and domain experts. The frameworks then formed the basis for two types of applications: i) (semi)quantitative analysis using fuzzy cognitive maps and ii) qualitative analysis through the use of narratives. The frameworks themselves are generalised but their applications are context and situation dependent. The IA frameworks are intended as tools for supporting discussion and learning about the system, including testing for implications of system interventions or perturbations.