Rainwater Harvesting as an Adaptation to Climate Change

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Current Science Association/Indian Academy of Sciences


"Extreme climate events such as aridity, droughts, floods, cyclones, and stormy rainfall are expected to leave an impact on human society. It is also expected to generate widespread response to adapt and mitigate the sufferings associated with these extremes. Societal and cultural responses to prolonged drought include population dislocations, cultural separation, habitation abandonment, and societal collapse. A typical response to local aridity is the human migration to safer and productive areas. However, climate and culture can interact in numerous ways. We hypothesize that people may resort to modify dwelling environments by adapting new strategies to optimize the utility of available water by harvesting rain rather than migrating to newer areas. We review recent palaeoclimatological evidence for climate change during the Holocene, and match that data with archaeological and historical records to test our 'climate change-rainwater harvest' hypothesis. We find correlation between heightened historical human efforts for construction of rainwater harvesting structures across regions in response to abrupt climate fluctuations, like aridity and drought. Historical societal adaptations to climate fluctuations may provide insights on potential responses of modern societies to future climate change that has a bearing on water resources, food production and management of natural systems."



water resources, climate change, adaptation, drought, sustainability, resource management, ethnobotany, migration, archaeology