Vol 6, No 1 (2020)

Special Issue - Environment and Population Dynamics in South Asia

Table of Contents


by Sangram Kishor Patel
420 Views, 451 PDF Downloads

Research Articles

by Sangram Kishor Patel, Bincy Mathew, Ankit Nanda, Biswajit Mohanty, Niranjan Saggurti
1131 Views, 227 PDF Downloads
Globally, natural disasters have caused a large scale of damage and destruction every year, affecting millions of people, the economy, and development – and developing countries are the most severely affected. Odisha is one of India’s most disaster-prone states. This study explores the effects of, and resilience to, cyclones, floods, droughts, and heatwaves in Odisha, and identifies government strategies that help mitigate these natural disasters. We mainly used primary data collected through a qualitative study undertaken from April 2017 to June 2017 in three districts of Odisha. We conducted in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with community members and key stakeholders at different levels. In addition, our study analyzed secondary data on natural disasters using DesInventar, a disaster information management system data source. The findings show that floods, cyclones, and drought in recent years, along with heatwaves and lightning, have severely affected the people of Odisha. The impacts of these natural disasters are calamitous – particularly on livelihoods, food security, health, water, and sanitation. These natural disasters, which have affected agriculture, fisheries, prawn cultivation, roadside vendors, and daily wage laborers, have both short- and long-term effects on the livelihoods of people in Odisha, leaving them with scarce employment opportunities. The vulnerable and marginalized sections of the population have been the most severely affected, and common coping mechanisms have included selling off livestock, borrowing food, taking loans and mortgages, and migration. The government’s measures/programs, such as an Early Warning System, Public Distribution System, Multipurpose Cyclone Rehabilitation Centers, Seasonal Residential Care Centers, and Indira Awas Yojana, play a major role in mitigating the effect of disasters among rural communities. Our study indicates that natural disasters have impacted the population of the state socioeconomically, physically, and psychologically. The effect on livelihoods, directly and indirectly, exacerbates income, food security, and health. There is an urgent need to focus on reducing people’s underlying vulnerabilities by taking proactive measures, engaging the community in decision-making, and generating alternative and sustainable livelihoods.

Research Articles

by Surendra Kumar Patel, Manas R. Pradhan
792 Views, 167 PDF Downloads

Unplanned spatial development, unregulated migration, and changing energy consumption patterns are likely to increase the vulnerability to climate change of populations inhabiting in urban areas. This study aims to estimate urban exposure level and examine the inequalities in the availability of infrastructure and the provision of services in million-plus cities in India. Using data from Census 2011 for 40 million-plus cities, this study measured urban exposure through the urbanicity scale ranging from 0 to 70 points. The urbanicity scores revealed a transparent gradient in the level of urban exposure across these 40 million-plus cities, with the scores ranging from 45.59 (the lowest, in Meerut) to 61.47 (the highest, in Delhi). The economic activity scores were similar for all the million-plus cities, whereas the health infrastructure scores showed a wide variation from 1.0 to 8.8 points. Population, health, educational infrastructure, and built environment contributed the most to the inequality. Unless addressed urgently, these inequalities in infrastructure and services will affect the sustainability of these million-plus cities and may hinder the country’s achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 13 on climate change.

Research Articles

by Arabinda Acharya, Anup Kumar Das
535 Views, 195 PDF Downloads

Good nutrition is the foundation of human well-being that leads to better health, effective engagement of the workforce, and productive lifestyle, resulting in higher income and an integrated development trajectory. This paper attempts to comprehend the impact of climate vulnerability on household nutrition status through agriculture production systems in Odisha, India. This study using secondary data estimates a composite index of climate vulnerability on the agriculture ecosystem in Odisha at the district scale. Results suggest that among all the districts in Odisha, Bhadrak (0.193) is the most vulnerable district followed by Sonepur (0.191) and Baudh (0.190). On the other hand, Mayurbhanj (0.099) is the least vulnerable district followed by Ganjam (0.103) and Sundargarh (0.105). The fi ndings also suggest that there is a wide variation in vulnerability indicators among the districts in Odisha (0.099 – the lowest district value vs. 0.193 – the highest). The results of multivariate analysis evince that in households (both women and children) nutritional status, the composite value of “climate vulnerability” has a greater role in predicting the predictors in Odisha through the agriculture production system. The climate vulnerability has a positive and signifi cant relationship with forest area (r=0.403*), gross cropped area (r=0.489**), percent of scheduled caste population (r=0.510**), percent of urban area (r=0.427*), and per-capita income (r=0.712**). The fi ndings also signify that district-wise gross cropped area (t=3.01), average annual rainfall (t=4.05), area under irrigation (t=3.36), cropping intensity (t=3.60), and forest areas (t=1.81) play a more predictive role to determine the household nutritional status along with socioeconomic and health factors such as per-capita income (t=1.8), urbanization (t=1.91), and women’s anemic status (t=2.74). Drawing inferences from the empirical evidence, the study suggests that climate vulnerability has a much greater role in influencing household nutrition status, particularly with women and child nutrition through the agriculture production system. Appropriate policy level measures for climate-sensitive and adaptive action are the need of the hour to make agriculture production ecosystem contributes positively to nutrition status.

Research Articles

by Anmol Arora
384 Views, 661 PDF Downloads

Global environmental change has exacerbated the vulnerabilities of pastoral communities in India, who have already been sidelined in the current development and modernization discourse. The Raikas are one of the largest groups of indigenous nomadic pastoralists residing in the semi-arid regions of Northwest India. They are facing the brunt of shrinking grazing areas, social marginalization, and economic pressures. The past two decades have witnessed additional challenges, such as water scarcity and rainfall variability, which have pushed them beyond their adaptive threshold. These churnings have led to a radical shift in their values and climate adaptation strategies. However, the role and importance of social values in shaping their response to environmental change are not well understood. This study conducted life history interviews and focus group discussions with community members to examine social values and their linkages with climate adaptation decision-making in Raikas. The findings demonstrate that the community’s livelihood, health, and social cohesion are severely affected by environmental change, entwined with social, economic, and political stressors. There is a parallel change taking place in their social values. Their values related to esteem, self-actualization, safety, and belongingness have witnessed shifts, leading them away from pastoralism. This has ramifications on their adaptation decision-making. Their time-tested and preferred choice of adaptation in the face of drought and water scarcity – seasonal livestock migration – is no longer desirable. New adaptation options, such as urban migration, have emerged, while traditional measures have declined in popularity. There is an urgent need to understand and engage with a broader set of methodologies and literature to facilitate the integration of social values in vulnerability and adaptation assessments. The inclusion of social values presents an opportunity to understand the subjective limits of adaptation better as well as to expand adaptation pathways.

Reviews Articles

by Pawan Kumar Taneja, Shallini Taneja
449 Views, 243 PDF Downloads

Scientifically simulated Earthquake Damage Scenario (EDS) and Shakeout exercises help the policymakers to set up emergency plans for the immediate consequences and medium-long-term mitigation and prevention for a seismic event. The purpose of this study is to draw important lessons and a deeper understanding of issues and challenges in planning and implementing such exercises in a highly populous developing country like India. The Government of India developed a first-ever multi-state and multi-stakeholders EDS naming Mw = 8 Mandi and conducted a Mega Multicity Shakeout Exercise in the Western Himalayan Region during 2014. A cross-sectional research design consisting of a mainly qualitative research approach using a multi-stakeholders perspective approach was used to factor key lessons. The scenario development and shakeout exercise faced several challenges such as lack of awareness among concerned stakeholders, lack of technical know-how at the grass-root level, lack of poor coordination among various stakeholders, and unavailability of data on important issues. Due to the lack of understanding of the sensitivity of the issue, the success of implementation largely depends on the involvement of the top leadership of state governments. Scientific EDS exercises followed by mega shakeout exercises helped not only the community up to some extent but also mainly helped administration, government agencies in generating awareness of the earthquake and possible risk attached to it.

Reviews Articles

by Sangram Kishor Patel, Ankit Nanda, Govind Singh, Sunita Patel
850 Views, 285 PDF Downloads

India has always been a disaster-prone country, with multiple states afflicted by different types of disasters. The impact of these disasters is exacerbated when an area is prone to multiple types of disasters. This study attempts to understand the impact of natural and man-made disasters on the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and Ladakh region in India as well as it also examines the resilience mechanisms adopted by the people, and identifies measures taken by the government in response to these disasters. To understand these disasters’ dynamics, we conducted both offline and online desk reviews for this study. The review suggests that J&K and Ladakh region is afflicted not only by multiple natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, avalanches, and landslides but also by the terrorism and violence, which has caused unparalleled death and destruction. These natural and man-made disasters have adversely affected most aspects of life and development in the region. To mitigate the risks, effective disaster risk reduction and management systems, early warning systems and infrastructure need to be strengthened. In addition, community engagement needs to be enhanced with the goal of addressing the grievances of the population and engaging them in the design and implementation of sustainable development programs.

Reviews Articles

by Sangram Kishor Patel, Gopal Agrawal, Bincy Mathew
1099 Views, 313 PDF Downloads
The purpose of this study is to understand the linkages between natural disasters and their impact on the mental health of people as well as associated resilience mechanisms in India. Natural disasters affect not only the physical environment but also the economy, social life, and well-being of the population. In addition to the loss of precious lives and economic losses, disasters affect the natural growth and mental health of the affected populations to a great extent. It is extremely challenging to quantify the true scale of damage caused by a disaster because physical damage is visible, but hidden impacts could be much more severe and have catastrophic effects on the socioeconomic growth of the affected families and areas. Against this background and with the limited available evidence, this study has tried to understand how disasters lead to poor mental health among the affected populations around the globe and tried to conceptualize this in the Indian context. Our review documents the different pathways for disasters to adversely affect mental health, particularly among vulnerable populations. The review also highlights how an increased frequency of disasters with climate change can lead to a post-traumatic stress disorder, adjustment disorder, and depression. Changes in climate and global warming may require populations to migrate, which can lead to acculturation stress. It can also lead to increased rates of physical illnesses, which secondarily would be associated with psychological distress. This research is an initial step in bringing this important issue forward in the context of Sustainable Development Goals and outlining that better policies need to be designed for prevention, services, and psychological counseling of mental health problems due to disasters. This study also suggests for more longitudinal research to understand the development of disaster-related mental health problems and to develop adequate mitigation strategies.