Livelihood Vulnerability and Adaptation in Kolar District, Karnataka, India: Mapping Risks and Responses

Chandni Singh, Ritwika Basu, Arjun Srinivas | July 2016 


In India, ASSAR is exploring differential vulnerability and adaptive responses. In the largely semi-arid state of Karnataka in South India, we are examining how climatic, socio-economic, infrastructural and biophysical changes are driving livelihood vulnerability in rural and urban areas. Focussing on migration as a key livelihood strategy to address vulnerability, and one that spans the rural-urban continuum, we conducted research in the Kolar District. Kolar falls in the eastern dry agro-climatic zone in south Karnataka. The district is characterised by erratic rainfall, low soil moisture, high groundwater exploitation, and rapid land use change, all of which are mediated by social inequalities and governance challenges to shape local vulnerability. Climatic and non-climatic stressors challenge natural resource-based livelihoods in the district and people are coping by moving into tenuous and unsafe employment in urban centres to work as construction labourers, gardeners, and domestic helpers. Migration and commuting has emerged as a key livelihood strategy, but one that may further exacerbate the vulnerability of those who move into cities and those who are left behind.