India is the 7th largest country in the world with an area of 3,287,263 km2 and a population of 1,210,193,422 people, thus making it to the second most populous country in the world. India is facing many environmental and social challenges due to global climate change. Massive retreat of glaciers in the Himalayas, erratic monsoons and an inundation of low-lying coastal areas and islands, are threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. According to the Global Adaptation Index, 2010 India is the 59th most vulnerable country and the 18th least ready country, (GAIN, 2010). India is one of the most disaster-exposed countries in the world with an estimation of 60 % of the country being prone to earthquakes and 70 % to floods (UNDP, 2011).
Where The Rain Falls research results
The research for this project was carried out in the Chhattisgarh State in India. Chhattisgarh constitutes 4.1% land area of the country, thus making it as the ninth largest state in India. Physiographyically, the state is divided into three zones, namely: the Chhattisgarh Plains, Bastar Plateau, and Northern Hills. The soils are shallow in the upper regions with less developed features and are highly eroded in nature. Down the slope, the soils have richer and more developed.
The four villages covered in the study are Jullan Pakaria, Akalteri, Banahil and Silli within the Janjgir – Champa District of the Chhattisgarh State, where farmers are heavily dependent on the production of a single annual crop of paddy rice grown during the monsoon season. The analysis focused on the rainfall problems facing the communities of the four research villages: drought, seasonal delays and shifts, as well as erratic rainfall. While the total annual rainfall average fluctuates significantly from year to year in this part of India, it has done so around a mean of approximately 1,200mm/year- 90% of which falls during the southwest monsoon months of June-September. Although there is no discernible decline in the annual rainfall average, local data and experts confirm a significant drop in the number of rainy days per year (from 65 to 56) and a slight delay in the onset of the monsoon season. Groundwater levels in the area are also reported to have dropped.
Despite the fact that the majority of farmers in these villages have access to canal irrigation (84% of the farmlands), food insecurity remains high. Due to water insufficiency for the second crop season (rabi), most local farmers appear to have largely abandoned the production of pulses and other crops, which contributes to high levels of seasonal unemployment during the dry season, particularly among smallholders and the landless poor, reaching its peak during the pre-harvest months of September-November.
Migration is one of the strategies that mainly small farmers and farm laborers use in response to rainfall variations/climatic changes. You can visualize the migration patterns on the Map Viewer or Download the Map. The period of highest seasonal unemployment (January-May) coincides with the peak period of out-migration from Janjgir District. Less rain causes drought, a lower pond level and a decline in ground water. This has implications for food security, affecting both the crops and livestock, on which the livelihoods of the communities of the research site depend. According to the Peer Review Appraisal group participants, some people cope with the situation by seeking external help from families and institutions, reducing food consumption and expenditures, or trying to increase their income on the spot without leaving their villages. However, others leave their villages, seeking new livelihood alternatives or at least attempting to increase their income through work in other towns/cities. Even the people who stay and borrow from others might still opt for migration in order to be able to generate income that partly repays their loans.
A very small number of residents of local villages have been able to secure employment in the new, coal-fired power plants under construction in the district. By contrast, local residents express growing concerns about increasing competition for land and water resources and negative local environmental impacts such as, air and water quality.
Where The Rain Falls Community based adaptation project in India
Building on the research results, the project team with the communities developed community based adaptation project and focused primarely on increasing the water security of Adivasi women in Chhattisgarh state in 20 villages.
The project focused its efforts on the following specific objectives:
- To improve capabilities of Adivasi women to adapt and cope with stresses and shocks, especially water, affecting their livelihoods, including those induced by climate variability;
- To facilitate effective participation of Adivasi women in decision-making related to water governance;
- To facilitate the rehabilitation of water structures in at least five villages and establish mechanisms for their maintenance with the active participation of local communities;
- To enhance capacities of local authorities to be more responsive and transparent in designing and implementing pro-poor and inclusive policies, programmes and budgets.
The project went on from 2014 to 2016 with the same objectives and worked with 20 additional villages to scale up its benefits.
The work done on water management and the result obtained can be read here.
You can also read a blog here on one of the flourishing Partnership established in the project to help farmers access and benefit the Soil Health Card.
Read the full Where the Rain Falls – India Research report