Barriers and Enablers to Climate Adaptation: Evidence from Rural and Urban Areas in India

Chandni Singh, Kavya Michael,  Amir Bashir Bazaz  | March 2017


Many people are moving out of agriculture to enter informal livelihoods in cities, where incomes earned do not significantly improve household wellbeing (at source or destination). Migration decisions are shaped by both climatic and non-climatic drivers. However, improving the viability of agrarian livelihoods is crucial to ensuring secure and dignified employment and to meeting India’s growing food and nutritional needs. The current policy space views development as a binary rural vs. urban issue. We argue for a more holistic understanding of the rural and the urban: a rural-urban continuum of livelihoods, material flows, ideas, people and tradeoffs, where there are winners and losers on both sides. While the current focus on watershed development with adaptation co-benefits is positive, it must be complemented by efforts to address the growing irrigation demand. We unpack governance as a barrier to adaptation to note that implementation is slowed by the lack of staff—especially at State and district levels in line departments—rather than low awareness, misplaced intent and inadequate finances.