Natural resource management in changing climate – reflections from indigenous Jharkhand

Publication Date27 May 2014
AuthorNafisa Priti Sanga,Rajeev Kumar Ranjan
SubjectPublic policy & environmental management,Environmental technology & innovation
Natural resource management in
changing climate – reflections
from indigenous Jharkhand
Nafisa Priti Sanga and Rajeev Kumar Ranjan
Welfare Department, Government of Jharkhand,
Jharkhand Tribal Development Society, Ranchi, India
Purpose – Addressing probable complexities of climate change on rural livelihoods, food security,
and poverty reduction, requires mainstreaming of cross-sectoral interventions and adaptations into
existing frameworks. Indigenous communities due to their isolation, reluctance to current practices,
and knowledge deprivation are difficult to reach by many developmental prog rams. The purpose of
this paper is to identify relevant adaptations from indigenous rural Jharkhand (India), applicable to
improving livelihoods through integrated natural resource management (NRM). Prospectsof rainwater
harvest and management for supporting local rural livelihoods were also examined.
Design/methodology/approach – Tested and applicable models of participatory research methods
widespread in sociological research were used. Focussed group discussions and structu red interviews
were conducted for primary data collection from micro-watershed units of this study.
Findings In-situ soil and water conservation methods showed increased availabilities of freshwater
both for food and non-food consumption in the area. Construction of rural infrastructure and land
husbandry practices improved agricultural productivity and resulted in subsequent reductions in
women’s drudgeries. Culture fishery provided ample scope for livelihood diversification, food and
nutrition security of households. Overall, micro-watershed area developmental approach improved
food and nutrition securities, generated employment opportunities, improved agricultural
productivity, diversified livelihoods and were widely accepted by communities.
Originality/value – Creating greater sense of ownership among grass-root communities was
an important thrust behind the success of this particular project. By entrusting tribal communities
with fund management, rural planning, and execution of various interventions, a successful replicable
model was produced, which has wider community implications extending beyond societies and
Keywords Resource management, Adaptive measures, Climatic threats, Jharkhand,
Livelihood diversification, Tribal development
Paper type Research p aper
After the release of fourth assessment report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC, 2007), climatic concerns received global attention and top priority.
However, throughout twentieth century the entire globe underwent various ecological
changes (IPCC, 2001). These ecological anomalies had serious adverse impacts on
sustainability of land and water resources and on ecosystems, which may in turn
affected the well-being of billions of people on earth. For poor people, vulnerability is
both a condition and a determinant of poverty, and refers to the (in) ability of people to
avoid, cope with o r recover from the har mful impacts of factors that disrupt their lives
and that are beyond their immediate control (Kasperson et al., 1996). This inc ludes the
impacts of shocks, e.g. sudden changes such as natural hazards, war or collapsin g
market prices, and trends, for example, gradual environmental deg radation, oppressive
political systems or deteriorating ter ms of trade, etc. (Ganguly and Pan da, 2009).
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
WorldJour nal of Science, Technology
and Sustainable Development
Vol.11 No. 2, 2014
pp. 117-133
rEmeraldGroup Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/WJSTSD-10-2013-0040
NRM in
changing climate
Impacts of climate change may disproportionately affect poor since they lack means,
and have limited resources to deal with the former. The need for and the scale of
adaptation reflects the vulnerabilities of people and natural systems to disruption from
changes that reflect the impacts of climatic conditions. Thus, addressing the probable
complexities of climate change interactions and their potential impacts on livelihoods
may require mainstreaming of cross-sectoral responses, such as those fo r food security,
poverty reduction, emergency preparedness and others, into existing frameworks.
Although the knowledge on adaptation related economics is limited, particularly in
the context of sustainable rural development, recent studies (World Bank, 2010) may
be sought for comparing different options. Additionally, by improving communication
channels among communities various areas of needs can be effectively coordinated
and managed. Adaptation does not mean se arch of entirely new concepts or ideas, it
rather builds on existing knowledge and experience. Sustainability of water-based
ecosystems may be ensured by ensuring adequate water supplies that would meet the
food and non-food needs of a growing population (Saxena, 2009). Global freshwater
supplies are expected to significantly reduce by 2050 in many regions which in turn
are likely to affect four aspects of food security namely production, stability, access
and utilization, consequently resulting in increased food insecurities (IPCC, 2008).
In rain-fed areas major thrust p oints against climate change may be on promoting
activities related to rainwater harvesting, soil conservation, land shaping, pastu re
development, vegetative bunding, water resource conservation, etc. based on micro-
watershed approach (Saxena, 2009).
In developing countries hundreds of millions of undernourished people depend
solely on rain-fed agriculture living in arid and semi-arid areas (Rockstrom et al., 2007),
where agriculture is adversely impacted by water scarcity (Molden et al., 2007b).
Since agriculture is the largest water user of rural India providing sustenance to
rural community, former requires efficient irrigation systems and adoption of water
conservation strategies. Further, agriculture plays dual role in climate change , first it is
severely affected by it and second it is a significant contributor of green house gas
emissions. Soil erosion is yet another concern directly related to rainwater flows in such
areas, and is expected to increase B9 percent by 2090 (Yang et al., 2003). Therefore,
watershed based area developmental approach may be promising both fo r addressing
water demands, and checking soil erosion in deg rading rain-fed areas, which may be
achieved through application of appropriate land an d water management (LWM)
techniques (World Bank, 2008). Among the various options available under watershed
management for LWM technologies, construction of water harvesting tanks, ponds,
various trenches, gully plug, water canals, stone bunds, gabion str ucture, farm
bund, land treatment, etc. are widespread (Saxena, 2009). Thus, adaptations related to
agriculture sector may focus on addressing the negative impacts of climate c hange and
making optimum use of available opportunities (GIZ, 2011). However, the success of
agricultural adaptation practices may depend on successful amalgamation of concrete
options available at hand through community based adaptation approaches.
Global capture fishery resources due to overexploitation are likely to lose production
over the subsequent years (FAO, 2007). Although, small scale fisheries to some extent
have the potentialfor commercialization, involving sales of harvests (Berkes et al., 2001),
freshwater ecosystems faces risks of alterations in flows due to changes in global
climate (Orr et al., 2005). Additionally, communities engaged in fisheries activities are
also vulnerable because of extreme weather events and other socio-economic pressures
(Nicholls et al., 2007a). Hence, aquaculture habitat restoration of existing or newly

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