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Climate variability and climate change: implications for chronic poverty

Lucy Scott


This paper follows the principles of the ‘bottom-up’ approach to adaptation. It believes that one of the starting points for adaptation to climate change should be the present. The focus should not just be on scenarios of the future; combined with this should be analysis of present vulnerability in the face of current climate variability. Adaptation does not have to start from scratch; people have been coping with climate variability and extremes for centuries and continue to cope with it now. At the same time, though, it acknowledges that future climate changes will probably be beyond the current capacities of the poor to adapt to successfully. This is one reason why climate change requires special consideration within the development agenda.

The focus of the paper is on India. It looks at projections of climate change under different climate models and at how these changes will alter India’s vulnerability to the climate. In particular it notes that it is not necessarily those poorest states which are the most vulnerable to future projected changes.

The paper then focuses on the current coping strategies for climate variability by the chronically poor and highlights some of the barriers to and opportunities for successful adaptation. Potential responses include livelihood diversification through migration; employment generated by the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and the potential to expand the area of land under irrigation. These are discussed in greater detail.

Publication Type(s)

CPRC Working Paper


agriculture India migration environment Climate change

ISBN: 978-1-906433-07-9


Climate variability and climate change PDF 244.6 KB

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