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Geo-climatically Vulnerable Sundarbans: A social network analysis of mother’s social ties and child care

Future Health Systems

Ghosh U, Bose S, Bramhachari R (2017) Geo-climatically Vulnerable Sundarbans: A social network analysis of mother’s social ties and child care, International Journal for Population, Development and Reproductive Health, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp. 27 - 41


Present paper explores mother's individual and system level social ties to support in taking care of children in resource scarce setting of the Indian Sundarbans. Climatic uncertainties resulted in male out-migration in search of alternative livelihoods leading towards female-headed households. Women now face triple burden of works – livelihood, household chores and childcare. Hence it is pertinent to know how and to what extent social ties support child care in female headed households in comparison to male headed households.

The study was conducted in two villages of South 24 Paraganas district of Sundarbans having sizable number of out-migrated males. Households having at least one child aged 0–6 were selected and divided into female and male headed households. The study adopted an ego-centric network approach and used a participatory social network technique. Four network measures: 1) size: 2) composition; 3) density; and 4) compositional quality have been adopted for analysing the network while the framework approach has been used for analysing qualitative data.

The female dominated individual network provided material and psycho-social support for child care to both groups of mothers. The network of female-headed households was sparse and mainly depended upon the mother’s own effort and negotiation to get connected with different actors. Some negative impacts like dependency of care seeking or financial exploitation occur. In comparison, denser kin network of male headed households ensured secure assistance. In system level network, mothers generally exhibited small and sparse network with health and non-health organisations, mainly defined by geographical proximity and social factors.

The findings would help to understand the labyrinth of individual and system level relationships – factoring in the gender, geo-climatic and other socio-political relations – that interact with one another to constrain or catalyse the use of social network in taking care of the children in a geo-climatically vulnerable region like Sundarbans.