Adapting to Climate Change: Opportunities under MGNREGA

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"The impact of climate change would be the most severe for the poor communities, living in the developing nations with limited options for livelihood and high level of dependence on the natural resources. The impacts would increase the food insecurity, water stress and extreme weather events which would affect the livelihood security of these communities and increase their vulnerability. It is therefore important that development programmes targeting such communities should be underpinned with the measures of adaptation to climate change. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), implemented on a national scale is one such programme that creates employment by undertaking diverse activities aimed towards water harvesting, drought proofing, flood protection and plantations. The study evaluates the ecological and economic impact of MGNREGA in Panna, a drought-prone district of M.P. Threat in relation to climate change, would be more severe as the district is characterized by high level of poverty (72% of population under BPL) and less irrigated land (11.8%). Construction of wells, renovation/construction of ponds, plantations and watershed management are some of the major activities being implemented. These activities are measures towards adaptation to climate change apart from having direct outputs in terms of enhanced agricultural productivity due to increased availability of water and land conservation. Results show an increase in irrigated land by 26% and subsequent increase in their average household income by 15%. In case of Kapil Dhara (construction of well on individual land), there is 100% increase of irrigated land and 45% increase in their income. With respect to people’s perceptions, more than 50% of the respondents ranked prevention of soil erosion and increased soil moisture as the most important benefits accrued due to plantation, but only after they were briefed about different benefits including wage employment, materiel and ecological benefits. This indicates that sensitization of the masses towards role of MGNREGA in climate change adaptation would add to people’s appreciation and participation in the program for championing development with adaptation."



climate change, rural affairs, livelihoods