Climate Adaptation in South Asia 
The purpose of this Cluster is to advance climate adaptation research and implementation at the household, community, state, and federal levels in South Asia, particularly in the context of climate-driven migration. By working with our partners to identify the most important threats to health and livelihoods, as well as the triggers for migration, we will consolidate and collect data on environmental variables like rainfall and temperature, flooding, drought, health, and agricultural production to identify communities that are at most risk; build data repositories to inform policy and research on climate adaptation; and co-design and test climate strategies at scale. The strategies will encompass technologies, financial instruments, law and policy, and education, training, and awareness programs.
Cluster Research
Research started:
2023
Researchers:
10 Persons
Duration:
3 Years
HARVARD UNIVERSITY
THE SALATA INSTITUTE FOR CLIMATE AND SUSTAINABILITY

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SUMMARY
WHO IS INVOLVED
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EXTERNAL COLLABORATORS
Headshot of Solomon Hsiang, headshot of a man with short black hair and brown eyes smiling at the camera.
Solomon Hsiang
Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy, The Goldman School of Public Policy, Berkley University
Faculty Website
Headshot of Sabina Faiz Rashid, headshot of a brown hair and brown eyes woman wearing a colorful scarf.
Sabina Faiz Rashid
Professor and Appointed Dean, James P Grant School of Public Health, Brac University
Faculty Webpage
Headshot of Mihir Bhatt, headshot of a man with salt and pepper hair wearing a green top.
Mihir Bhatt
Founder and Director, All India Disaster Mitigation Institute (AIDMI)
Fellow Webpage
Portrait of Bhargav Krishna, brown hair man with a beard.
Bhargav Krishna
Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research
Fellow Webpage
Akshay Jaitly
Founder, TrustBridge; Partner, Trilegal
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IMPACT
Summary

Climate Adaptation and Climate-Driven Migration in South Asia: Building an International Research Network for Long-Term Impact

Climate change is affecting South Asia – home to two billion people – in devastating ways. Adverse impacts disproportionately fall on poor households, which account for the vast majority of those affected in the region, and manifest in a variety of intersecting ways, including loss of wages, deteriorating health, increasingly inadequate shelter, loss of protection mechanisms for women, girls, and the disabled, gravely impaired food security, and obliteration of savings. Extreme weather events in the short terms and drought, floods and rainfalls on longer time horizons will make it hard for millions to continue to live where they are, forcing many to adapt to their changing environs, or move. Such migration must be anticipated and planned for, in the absence of which millions of lives and livelihoods will be at stake.  

Currently, the information required to measure, understand, and address these overlapping risks in South Asia is not easily available to policy makers or scientists. The Cluster will fill this gap by working with partners to build data repositories to generate new, and validate existing, knowledge about the implications of environmental changes on flooding, heat, drought, and agricultural production in communities most at risk in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Building on long-standing collaborations in the region, the Cluster will use existing and novel data sources, ranging from remote sensing data to locally collected information, to create repositories of relevant data from environmental sensors, satellites, mobile devices, qualitative surveys, government databases and community-sourced variables with spatial and temporal granularity at the village level. Bringing together and analyzing these datasets will facilitate the identification of priorities and targets for intervention. 

In this work, the Cluster is collaborating with in-region partners to ensure that local concerns inform a collaborative process of goal setting and developing a shared scientific vision. Partners include international agencies; nodal governmental agencies; leading policy research institutes; social entrepreneurs; BRAC, the world’s largest non-governmental organization; and the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), the world’s largest trade union of women workers in the informal sector. These partnerships ensure that adaptation planning is driven by the voices and concerns of the region’s vast labor force that primarily works in the informal economy as daily wage earners, farmhands, street vendors, constructions workers and more. 

The Cluster will work closely with our partners to identify, co-create, test, and bring to scale climate adaptation strategies including technological, health, financial, policy and educational interventions that anticipating, mitigate or support migration when livelihoods and habitats are impacted by droughts, floods and sea-level rise. Such interventions may range from habitat modifications, to community-led surveillance for infectious diseases, to expanding insurance to include extreme weather events, to local, regional, and national plans for responding to climate change induced disruptions across timescales.   

The Cluster’s research outputs will inform policymaking in the region and generate knowledge applicable in other geographic settings.

Impact

HARVARD UNIVERSITY
THE SALATA INSTITUTE FOR CLIMATE AND SUSTAINABILITY

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