Where The Rain Falls

Changing weather patterns are already causing weather extremes, including droughts and flooding, leading to food insecurity and displacement of people. Yet, these changing weather patterns, which include less predictable seasons and increasingly erratic rainfall, are some of the most important but least understood impacts of environmental change. While erratic weather has long presented serious challenges to people dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods, increasing variability due to climate change is making farming, pastoralism and even artisanal fishing more difficult and precarious.
CARE France and the UN University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security, with support from the AXA Group and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, launched the “Where the Rain Falls” initiative in 2011 to enhance the capacity of governments, civil society and the private sector to better understand and effectively address the relationship between changing weather patterns, food security and human mobility in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries and communities. The Where the Rain Falls project, through its research, advocacy and risk reduction and adaptation efforts, provides better knowledge, recommendations and practical solutions to improve the lives of vulnerable communities in developing countries around the world.


Field research was conducted in eight countries (Bangladesh, India, Guatemala, Peru, Ghana, Tanzania, Thailand and Vietnam). Aiming at answering the question: Under what circumstances do households use migration as a risk management strategy in response to increasing rainfall variability and food insecurity? The research used the following methods:

  • Participatory Research Approach (12 PRA tools used, including a range of mapping, diagrams, focus group discussions and other group exercises);
  • Household survey (a total of more than 1,300 surveys completed across the eight countries);
  • Interviews with experts from governmental and non-governmental organizations, scholars and other experts, as well as problem-centered in-depth interviews with experts on the topic of rainfall variability, food and livelihood security, and human mobility;
  • Local and global observation systems covering rainfalls variability

You can access the full research protocol here

UNU-EHS is also using household survey data to undertake agent-based modeling using the Tanzania research site as a test case to address the scenarios under which rainfall variability and food security may become significant drivers of human mobility in the medium (2015-2030) and long-term (2030-2080).

Finally, CIESIN at Columbia University developed maps for the project to put the research results on migration in the context of local agro-ecosystems, natural resources, and rainfall variability.


Drawing on the Global Policy Report and country Case Study Reports produced by the project, CARE and UNU staff have undertaken a wide range of advocacy activities to share our research findings with national and international policymakers and practitioners. Research results were publicly launched at a side event at COP18 in Doha in December 2012, after which national advocacy workshops were held in each research country. Key outreach events in 2012 and 2013 included presentations by CARE and UNU staff in Paris, Dhaka (CBA7), and Washington. DC (Wilson Center).

Community-Based Adaptation

CARE has further leveraged the project’s research to work with colleagues to launch community-based adaptation projects in Peru, Tanzania, India, and Thailand in late 2012 and early 2013.  These projects, developed in collaboration with local communities, focus on “best-bet” adaptation interventions in the areas of sustainable agriculture and integrated water resources management. Since putting research into practice is a priority for CARE, significant efforts are being devoted to developing long-term climate change adaptation efforts in these and other Where the Rain Falls countries, with support from the AXA Group and other donors.

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