What Shapes Vulnerability and Risk Management in Semi-Arid India? Moving Towards an Agenda of Sustainable Adaptation

Chandni Singh, Divya Solomon, Ramkumar Bendapudi, Bhavana Kuchimanchi, Soundarya Iyer, Amir Bashir Bazaz   | 2019


In drylands across the global South, rural livelihoods are challenged by existing development deficits, and are now increasingly vulnerable to climate variability and change. People, governments, and a range of non-state actors are responding to these climatic and non-climatic risks through planned and autonomous response strategies. While several studies examine the drivers of vulnerability and range of response strategies undertaken, few distinguish development interventions from climate adaptation actions, making it difficult to identify particular entry points for enabling and strengthening adaptation action. In this paper, we apply Eakin et al.’s (2014) framework of generic versus specific capacity to data from three semi-arid regions in India to examine the implications of multi-scalar response strategies on local adaptive capacities and adaptation processes. We find that current arguments of good development translating into effective adaptation are not always seen: building specific capacities to deal with climatic risks is essential to leverage wins through development interventions. This can help semi-arid regions and people living in them to move towards sustainable adaptation pathways.