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How Communities Cope with Climate Change: Findings from India

India is a mega-biodiversity centre with two of the world's 18 biodiversity hot spots located in the Western Ghats and in the Eastern Himalayas.

Anthropogenic climate change caused by increasing human population, consumption, and resources usage is becoming an important source of shocks to people that rely on the environment for their livelihoods. The rise in frequency of floods, droughts and extreme weather in the Indian subcontinent in recent years is testament to the severity of this problem. These shocks are relatively more severe for poor and vulnerable households, which directly depend on agriculture, biodiversity and the environment for food, income and shelter.

The proposed research aims to look at variations in temperatures and other climatic shocks using GIS secondary data and analysing households’ coping mechanisms and sources of vulnerability. The research will also consider gendered and cultural characteristics that determine the success and failure of various coping strategies. Given that environmental shocks potentially disrupt labour supply and infrastructure, the research team will also discuss the importance of these shocks to the wider economy with particular emphasis on international trade.

Overall, the project will highlight effective responses to various environmental shocks in each region. The research will take place in villages that have been adopted by Amrita University as part of their live-in- labs programs. This will provide readily available and diverse source of information across India.

The research team will provide practical and achievable evidence-based policy advice immersed within existing institutional and cultural structures. This is a new way of formulating economic policy, where grass-roots based policies that build on communal and local strengths, rather than imposing alien institutional frameworks, are recommended in order to provide higher levels of effectiveness.

This project is led by Alberto Posso. Other investigators include Simon Feeny and Ahmed Skali from the Research Group and Dr P K Vishwanathan and Dr Sushanta Mahapatra from Amrita University, India.