Rationale of the project

Nearly 300 million people inhabiting the dryland regions of India are dependent on agriculture for livelihoods and sustenance. Maharashtra is the third largest state in India and accounts for nearly 9.4% of the total geographical area of the country. More than 30 % of the state falls under the rain shadow area where scanty and erratic rains occur and about 84 % of the total area under agriculture is rainfed. Many of the poor and resource-dependent communities in these fragile and sensitive dryland ecosystems are exposed to climatic extreme events. Agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for a majority of peasant cultivators and agricultural labourers. According to the 2002 State Human Development Report, 48% of the population resides in rural areas and nearly 60% of the working population is engaged directly in farming activities. Of the 100 talukas in the state, 45 have been identified as being drought- prone, according to the Central Water Commission statistics. 52% of the total area in Maharashtra is drought- prone. Changes in the frequency and intensity of climatic extreme events, such as droughts and floods, will impact communities as well as the ecosystems that they depend on for livelihoods and sustenance. The First National Communications (NATCOM) of India highlights that seasonal or regular water stress due to changes in rainfall patterns is likely to be experienced in case of most river basins lying in the State. This includes impacts on the Krishna and Tapi basins. Marginal increase in evapo-transpiration due to the projected rise in temperatures will have a larger impact on the resource-poor, fragile dryland ecosystems of Maharashtra.

Rice and sugarcane, two of the principal crops of the state are highly climate-sensitive. Findings from a study reported in the NATCOM (GoI, 2004) shows that yields of rice decreased with increasing temperature. A World Bank Study (2005) estimated that the productivity of sugarcane in Maharashtra could go down by 30% under climate change. Changes in water availability along with increase in temperature could have profound effect on the productivity of these two crops. The proportion of irrigated area in the state is only around 16%, as opposed to the national average of 38%. Nearly 40% of landholdings in the state fall in the less than one-hectare (marginal) category. Consequently, the per hectare crop yield is lower than the national level. Thus the triple characteristic of high climate sensitivity, high economic dependence and role in food security makes the agriculture sector in Maharashtra highly vulnerable to climate change impacts. Hence reducing current vulnerabilities of these communities to extreme events and enhancing their capacities to cope and adapt in the long-term forms a key area of action for policymakers and development practitioners at national, state and local levels in India.

A suite of adaptation options is possible for reduction of risks and impacts of climatic extremes and for building of resilient communities in the dryland areas. This includes, for example, soil and water conservation, livelihood support, crop productivity enhancement, weather forecasting, and early warning systems. Development of adaptation strategies however, requires that place-based knowledge about adaptation options and their mode of operation is combined with proper use of available knowledge (new and traditional), facilitated by appropriate institutional frameworks (Bouma and Scott, 2006).

Community-based adaptation (CBA) has a pivotal role in this context. CBA is an evolving process and operates on a ‘learning by doing’ mode. Hence, it becomes imperative for policymakers and practitioners to support pilot activities to foster sharing of knowledge, success stories and best practices worthy of replication in similar settings elsewhere (Huq and Reid 2007). By focusing on CBA, this project aims at identifying adaptation options in a participatory manner, assessing how CBA works and clarifying under what conditions CBA can effectively be implemented, including identification of barriers that exist at different levels and scales. These are necessary steps to develop practical recommendations for development and implementation of adaptation strategies by specific communities, policymakers and practitioners.


Project goal: The main goal of the project is to assess the enabling conditions for effective community-based adaptation to the impact of extreme events at the community level.

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Project Outline

The project has adopted a participatory approach involving multi stakeholders for achieving its goals.

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Expected Outcomes

The Key expected outcomes of the pilot phase of this project are
Outcome 1: Improved understanding of extreme climate exposure and vulnerability in drylands among scientific community and target groups- including policymakers, practitioners and vulnerable communities

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Project Partners

teri afpro nibr cicero niva
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