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Article Released Wed-30th-April-2014 00:51 GMT
Contact: Prabha Sethuraman Institution: International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
 Canada and the United Kingdom’s new research consortia will tackle key adaptation issues in Asia

Kathmandu, Nepal, April 30, 2014: Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) announced today the Asian institutions that would be part of four new multi-partner research consortia for tackling the impacts of climate change in Africa and Asia.


Funded under the Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA) program, a seven-year, CAD 70 million research initiative, the consortia take a fresh approach to understanding climate change and finding ways to adapt in some of the most vulnerable regions of Africa and Asia.


Organized around four multi-regional consortia, CARIAA will focus on three types of “hot spots,” namely semi-arid regions in Africa and South and Central Asia; major river deltas in Africa and South Asia; and the Himalayan River Basins, with a view to contributing to effective policies and action on the ground. The program straddles countries, regions, and sectors. CARIAA’s research in South and Central Asia is very timely, as demonstrated by the call for action coming out of the 8th Conference on Community Based Adaptation that concludes today in Kathmandu.


CARIAA’s consortium on the Himalayan river basins is led by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) based in Kathmandu. Its partners in Asia are the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in India, and the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council. It will include case studies in Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. The consortium working in deltas includes the Bangladesh University of Technology and Engineering, and Jadavpur University in India and includes research on the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and the Mahanadi deltas. The remaining two consortia working in semi-arid regions include the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and the Sustainable Development Policy Institute in Pakistan.


“CARIAA will provide key insights into future water supply and into effective adaptation options available at a local, national and regional scale in the countries dependent of the Hindu Kush Himalayas glaciers” said Dr David Molden, Director General of ICIMOD.


“Anticipated changes in the water flow patterns and glacial melt are going to affect the life and livelihoods of the population of Bangladesh”, said Dr. Atiq Rahman, Executive Director of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies. “The research undertaken by CARIAA will contribute to the advancement of science and to the welfare of the most vulnerable populations of Bangladesh.”


“Collaboration on adaptation research holds large scale mutual benefits to both Africa and Asia. It will enrich our knowledge on options available to help the most vulnerable populations in wide range of countries and regions," according to Dr Rajendra K Pachauri, CEO of TERI, India and Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).


Many areas of Asia are highly vulnerable to climate change. Changes in temperature and precipitation will affect snow and ice in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, and atmospheric circulation patterns that drive the South Asian summer monsoon. These changes could put the livelihoods of millions at risk. Downstream, populations in South Asian deltas are highly vulnerable to sea-level rise and to changing temperature and rainfall patterns. The IPCC projects that without adaptation measures to safeguard populations from the risks associated with climate change, hundreds of millions of people will be affected by coastal flooding and will be displaced due to land loss by year 2100; the majority of those affected are from East, Southeast and South Asia. Finally, in semi-arid parts of Asia, more frequent and prolonged droughts threaten livestock and agriculture, a major source of food and income.


More information, including the list of all institutions selected as part of the four consortia, is available at: CARIAA and in the backgrounder.
Join in the conversation through Twitter (#CARIAA) and Facebook.

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About IDRC
A key part of Canada’s foreign policy efforts, IDRC supports research in developing countries to promote growth and development. At IDRC, tackling climate change through research is one of our key activities. Read more about our climate change work.


About DFID
The UK's Department for International Development (DFID) leads the UK government's fight against world poverty.


Media contact:

Prabha Sethuraman | New Delhi | 91 11 2461 9411 ext. 7412 | psethuraman@idrc.ca|@IDRCinAsia

Isabelle Bourgeault-Tassé | Canada | +1 613 696-2343 | ibourgeault-tasse@idrc.ca | @IDRC_CRDI

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BACKGROUNDER

The Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia Initiative


The Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA) is a seven-year, CAD 70 million research initiative to understanding climate change and adaptation in some of the most vulnerable regions in Africa and Asia.


Through this initiative, four consortia will conduct research in three “hot spots” – regions where demographic trends, socio-economic development pathways, and strong climate signals put large numbers of people and their livelihoods at risk: semi-arid regions, deltas, and Himalayan river basins.


The initiative brings together experts from a variety of disciplines, and links North and South institutions to seek innovative solutions to the problems facing each hot spot. This will enable greater sharing of knowledge and experience, and encourage innovation.


CARIAA’s research agenda addresses gaps and priorities highlighted in the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability (IPCC AR5 Working Group II). A number of CARIAA researchers have contributed to this report, which was released in March 2014.
CARIAA is funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).


About the hotspots:


River basins: More than 40% of the world’s poor live in the Indo-Gangetic plain, one of the most fertile and populous regions of the world. Over the past years, the Hindu Kush Himalayan region has experienced a gradual increase in temperature and precipitation. This is expected to continue, with higher frequency of extreme weather events such as extended periods of high heat or intense precipitation. Impacts of climate change in this region also include changes in glacial melt, as well as changes to monsoon rains and snowpack melt.


Deltas: Deltas in Africa and South Asia are some of the world’s most vulnerable coastal areas because of a critical combination of biophysical factors and socio-economic characteristics. If current trends of sea-level rise and land subsidence persist, 5.4 million people in Africa and Asia might be displaced by 2050; 93% live in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Nile Deltas combined. Significant populations are also at risk in the smaller but more numerous combined deltas of the Mahanadi tributaries in India and the Volta Delta in Ghana.


Semi-arid regions: Warming temperatures, increasing drought, and changes in precipitation are undermining food security, especially for the poor. Rural livelihoods and incomes are threatened by shrinking water resources and declining agricultural productivity. The IPCC report identifies poor farmers and pastoralists in semi-arid regions as most at risk. The changes are expected to lead to changes in crop production in many areas of the world. The report warns that climate change impacts will slow economic growth and impede poverty reduction, further eroding food security, and creating new poverty traps, particularly in urban areas and emerging hunger hotspots. Migration caused by the impacts of climate change will compromise human security.


The four consortia and their research


Four multi-regional consortia have been selected to carry out the research:
The Himalayan Adaptation, Water and Resilience (HI-AWARE) consortium will focus on the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra river basins, where climate change impacts on water availability and the livelihoods of the poor are uncertain but likely to be severe. HI-AWARE will be led by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (Nepal) working with the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, The Energy and Resources Institute (India), the Alternate Energy and Water Resources Institute of the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, and ALTERRA (Netherlands).


The Deltas, Vulnerability and Climate Change: Migration and Adaptation (DECCMA) consortium will explore changes underway in four of the world’s most vulnerable deltas: the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Mahanadi Deltas, along with Ghana’s Volta Delta and Egypt’s Nile Delta. The team will assemble sea level projections for the four deltas based on the latest IPCC assessments. DECCMA will be led by the University of Southampton (United Kingdom) working with the Institute of Water and Flood Management of the Bangladesh University of Technology and Engineering, Jadavpur University (India), the National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences (Egypt), and the Regional Institute for Population Studies (Ghana).


The PRISE (Pathways to Resilience in Semi-Arid Economies) consortium will draw lessons for inclusive and resilient economic development in semi-arid regions. Its project focuses on investment and development choices, and will work with stakeholders in government, business, civil society, and regional economic organizations. Research focuses on climate risk, institutional and regulatory frameworks, markets, and natural and human capital. The project will shed light on climate risks and opportunities, leading to better informed policies and investments. PRISE will draw lessons from Pakistan and Tajikistan in Asia, Burkina Faso and Senegal in West Africa, and from Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa. It will be led by the United Kingdom’s Overseas Development Institute working with Innovation, Environnement et Développement en Afrique (Senegal), the University of Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania), the Grantham Research Institute of Climate Change, London School of Economics (United Kingdom), and Sustainable Development Policy Institute (Pakistan).


The ASSAR (Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions) consortia’s project starts from the premise that, by the middle of this century, the impacts of climate change may demand radical changes in livelihood systems. It takes the long view in addressing how climatic, biophysical, social, political, and economic dynamics interact in semi-arid regions. The researchers will identify relevant drivers and trends and use develop scenarios to help communities and decision-makers develop robust adaptation strategies. Research will be carried out in 14 countries across Africa and South Asia, including Pakistan and India. ASSAR will be led by the University of Cape Town (South Africa) working with the University of East Anglia (United Kingdom), Start International (United States), Oxfam Great Britain (United Kingdom), and the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (India).


The projected outcomes


CARIAA will produce a new body of evidence that will inform adaptation plans and policies on a range of scales, from local to regional, and over a variety of time frames. It will help communities and countries prepare for likely shifts in their livelihood base. It will also build expertise in climate change adaptation in semi-arid regions and provide lasting networks for exchange of this new knowledge between Southern and Northern institutions.


Working with local stakeholders and decision-makers, the research teams will produce simulations showing possible migration and land use changes that may result from climate change, and the various adaptation choices for affected populations. These simulations will reflect the different effects climate change may have on men and women, and the different options they have for coping.
While building networks of expertise, this research will help policymakers better understand the likely impacts that climate change will have on migration in these regions and the options available to affected populations. Understanding these impacts and the choices available is crucial for developing strategies that can help people adapt, for instance by ensuring that urban areas are prepared for an influx of migrants, by improving social supports for displaced men and women, or by supporting alternative livelihoods that may keep people on the land.


Regional Context:


The Hindu Kush Himalayan region has the largest concentration of snow and ice outside the north and south poles. It feeds the headwaters of ten of Asia’s largest rivers, bringing precious water to more than 210 million mountain dwellers and another 1.3 billion people downstream — many impoverished. Himalayan glaciers act as a natural buffer to the region’s highly variable climate, releasing water when rainfall is scarce and temperatures high. As a result, the Indo-Gangetic plain below is one of the most fertile and populous region in the world.


The region is also highly vulnerable to climate change. Temperatures are expected to gradually rise, with a modest increase in precipitation in the source areas of the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers by the end of this century. Glaciers will recede, but runoff from glacier melt is expected to rise until at least 2050. Changes in glacier volume and surface area may also affect atmospheric circulation patterns that drive the South Asian summer monsoon. These changes could put the livelihoods of millions at risk.


Downstream, coastal-dwelling populations in South Asian deltas like the Ganges-Brahmaputra are dense and growing rapidly, with high rates of poverty. Low-lying coastal deltas are highly vulnerable to sea-level rise and to changing temperature and rainfall patterns. The latest assessment report of the IPCC projects a rise in sea levels of up to 98 cm by 2100.


Migration is already an established household response to environmental and economic pressures. With climate change, more vulnerable people will turn to migration as a means of coping. A projection of existing trends suggests that globally, more than 8 million people could be displaced across deltas by 2050, with the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna delta among the most affected.


In rural areas, projected changes in temperature and precipitation threaten water supplies, food security, and agricultural incomes and will potentially displace hundreds of millions of people. The IPCC projects that over this century, impacts on migration patterns will compromise human security.

Keywords associated to this article: climate change, Africa, Asia
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