Adapting to climate change in drylands – a community based research initiative

drylandsThat climates are changing have been accepted as a non-negotiable reality. The more recent manifestations of these changes have been in increased variability in key climatic variables. Known as extreme weather events they are bound to impact natural and human systems. Mapping the vulnerabilities of both systems; and capacities to cope with and adapt to the effects of these changes has been the call of the hour.

As per the climate change projections for India 2030, an overall warming of all the regions in focus has been predicted with net increases varying between 1.7oC and 2.2oC. Variations in extreme temperatures for across all regions have also been predicted. Similar is the direction of prediction with regard to precipitation.

The dry lands of Jalna district represent a unique system both natural and human. Located in the rain shadows of the Western Ghats and with a high dependence on rainfed agriculture, variability in climate is bound to affect livelihoods. The extent of impact, corresponding sectors to be affected, and the capacities of local communities to adapt to these changes are some the issues explored through a project on Risks, Vulnerabilities and Adaptation. Collaborating core strengths; and connecting research with people, we found ourselves working with one Indian (TERI) and three Norwegian (NIVA, CEICERO & NIBR) research institutes of international repute.

Unique to research on extreme events and adaptation in India, has been the adoption of Community Based Adaptation (CBA) approach. Adopting this approach, project partners have sought to give due recognition to a host of community based activities, practices and institutions to deal with climate risks and impacts, focusing on the communities that are most vulnerable. CBA is an evolving process and operates on a ‘learning by doing’ mode.

The project has a well defined framework with each component addressing key aspects furthering/restricting adaptation to climate change at the lowest level. While ‘Work Packages’ 1 & 2 deal with assessments of extreme events and impacts on the biophysical side; Work Package 3 deals with the human dimension. Work Package 4 evaluates different adaptation options, Work Package 5 aims at putting the findings of the project into practice through stakeholder engagement, capacity building and dissemination of results to policy makers, practitioners, civil society, farming communities and the scientific community.

Key Project Outcomes

  • Improved understanding of extreme climate exposure and vulnerability in dry lands among scientific community and target groups- including policymakers, practitioners and vulnerable communities
  • Improved scientific basis and knowledge developed and made available by the project on vulnerability and climate risk management
  • Conducted participatory vulnerability analysis and identified adaptation options at the community level
  • Improved understanding and capacity among target groups to manage extreme events and apply adaptation skills and approaches

Representing planning at the lowest rung, participatory drought mapping was adopted to engage with communities in developing an understanding on changing climatic extremes. High resolution Google Earth images were shared with locals to better understand cropping patterns, conditions related to water and agriculture and problems and challenges faced by them. Found to be effective, it provided research teams with actual impacts faced by communities during extreme events. Workshops at the village cluster level have also provided insights into potential adaptation options.

Envisaging the role of the local administrative setup in serving as facilitators/barriers to adaption, a workshop was successfully conduced. With attendance from Collector of Jalna District, scientists from Badnapur Research Station, officials from NABARD and Bank of Maharashtra, initial exposure to climate change projections, impacts, adaptation measures and barriers to adaptation were taken up for discussions.

Comments are closed.