Dr Malti Goel
November 14, 2014


Climate change due to increased anthropogenic activities has become one of the biggest environmental threats facing the world in the 21st century. It is a potential risk and can cause irreversible harm to societies and ecosystems. A rising world population in the mid-century and end-century are expected to create further chaos. Almost all sectors of economy, especially social-economic namely; agriculture, forestry, water resources, human health, coastal settlements including energy, are most vulnerable and will need to adapt to a changing climate as well as take action to mitigate its adverse impacts. India has a National Action Plan on Climate Change, announced in 2008 with the intent to develop sectoral response towards climate change mitigation and adaptation. As part of the climate change policy, various states have now prepared their action plans consistent with the strategies outlined in the national action plan.

Vulnerability Assessment is the key component in the approach of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India, for the state action plans. For Madhya Pradesh, the State Action Plan on Climate Change (MP-SAPCC) has been strategised by the state level nodal agency Government of Madhya Pradesh Climate Change Cell (GoMP-CCC) established in 2009 within Environment Planning & Coordination Organisation (EPCO) of the Housing and Environment Department. Policy reforms, institutional arrangements, stakeholder participation, and estimation of regional climate change vulnerabilities are major highlights of SAPCC. Assessment of vulnerabilities is the process of identifying, quantifying and prioritising threats from potential hazards to population, infrastructure, development goals etc. Vulnerabilities cannot be measured directly and have to be inferred with the help of various variables.

The GIZ project on ‘Climate Change Adaptation in Rural Areas of India (CCA-RAI)’ aims to assess vulnerability and contribute to improving livelihoods and adaptive capacities of rural communities in India. The project focuses on integrating the issue of climate change adaptation in policy decisions of development plans in different sectors. District wise vulnerability in terms of time, human and financial resources has been assessed mainly for their impact on natural resources, land use, forests, biodiversity, and agriculture. The CCA-RAI has taken a structured approach to risk assessment at the state level, nullifying the gap between global scenarios and local risk assessments. The objective of the project is to develop an understanding towards the interventions required to improve the livelihood and adaptive capacities of vulnerable rural communities and formulate strategies for climate change adaptations favouring sustainable development in the rural sector, with demonstrative pilots at selected locations.    

The state of Madhya Pradesh (MP) is marked with a complex social structure. A predominantly agrarian economy, difficult and inaccessible terrain, and scattered settlements over a vast area, together pose several formidable problems to service delivery systems. Many areas, both on rural and urban fronts are vulnerable to climate change. The state needs to scale up its anti-poverty measures. In this regard, considerable experience in tackling challenges associated with social issues exists. It is envisaged that accumulated knowledge at various fronts will be vital in facing the climate change vulnerabilities.

It can be seen that the social, economic and environmental indicators vary widely within the districts in Madhya Pradesh. The highest range among the social indicators is being recorded for decadal growth rate of population, percentage of people below poverty line, percentage of households with access to sanitation facilities and number of slum dwellers per slum. The variations in the economic indicators in term of analysis of the per capita income and net district domestic product at current prices shows that Indore has the highest value, while the lowest value is observed in Dindori. Population served per health centre which includes community, primary and sub-health centres shows good range of variation among the districts with the highest range being observed for Bhopal and the least for Mandla. Similarly, among the environmental indicators for fertilizer consumption, yield of all crops average, livestock population, flood discharge and annual average rainfall shows the highest range in variation.

The changing pattern of climate is expected to lead to increased frequency and/or severity of extreme events. It would increase the vulnerability of the state to natural disasters such as drought, flood and cyclones. The poor and rural communities which are comparatively more dependent on ecosystem services are, therefore, likely to be more affected by deteriorating environmental conditions and factors limiting resource availability. The analyses of changes in monsoon rainfall pattern due to global climate change make significant inferences. Madhya Pradesh has a subtropical climate. Hot dry summer extends from April to June followed by monsoon from July to September and winter months (November to February) are cool and relatively dry. Using PRECIS portable regional climate model with a grid resolution of 0.44° x 0.44° and output from global coupled atmosphere-ocean (HadCM3) information on summer monsoon rainfall is captured to delineate regional impacts. Indian RCM (Regional Climate Model) PRECIS has been configured for a domain extending from about 1.5°N to 38°N and 56°E to 103°E. Using model calculations, a comparison of observed and baseline precipitation in various districts of the state is shown in Fig. 1. Precipitation is projected to increase by about 11% and 30% towards mid-century and end-century, respectively. In Fig. 2, the projected changes in precipitation for the mid-century and end-century are depicted.

 Fig. 1. Comparison of Observed and Simulated changes in Precipitation for Madhya Pradesh

Fig. 2. Projected change in mean annual precipitation in Madhya Pradesh for mid and end-centuries

The model simulations have indicated an all-round warming over the Indian subcontinent associated with increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. Maximum of maximum and maximum of minimum temperatures consistently show increasing trend and significant warming over. Climate extremes are also predicted to show significant increasing trend for warm day/night and consecutive dry days and decreasing trend for cool day/night.

Composite Vulnerability Index (CVI) is a parameter defined to facilitate decision making. Using multivariate analysis, CVI has been created by standardising indicators across the range of data to give relative weightage to its 50 districts. By looking at the CVI ranks, one can make out which district is the most vulnerable to climate change impacts. While individual Vulnerability Assessments (VA) are made on the scale of 1 to 50, CVI is graded on a scale of 0 to 1. Districts which are at the bottom end of the range with “low” scores nearing zero have the highest relative vulnerability. The districts at the top of the range with “very high” scores nearer to 1 do not necessarily have low absolute vulnerabilities; rather they are better off compared to other districts of Madhya Pradesh. All 50 districts are grouped into four categories, ‘very high’, ‘high’, ‘moderate’ and ‘low vulnerability’ according to their degree of vulnerability using cluster analysis. A composite vulnerability map has been prepared for baseline, mid-century as well as end-century scenario.