Shailendra Mandal & Vivekanand Singh, National Institute of Technology, Patna, India

Gregg Garfin, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA

Presentation Title: Making climate adaptation work: Strategies for resource constrained Indian Cities



This study explored the responses of Indian cities to the serious challenges posed by climate change, particularly in the water sector, drawing on theories of 'adaptation as development', ongoing planning initiatives in cities, and the factors that promote or hinder successful climate action plans. It examined associated discourses and actions related to climate adaptation strategies in the urban water sector, in order to identify practical, less resource-intensive adaptation strategies suited to the context of urban India.

Key Lessons Learned

Findings suggest that, given the absence of dedicated adaptation planning at the city level, the most effective approaches are those that integrate both development and adaptation criteria.

Policy/Practice Implications of Research

  • It is important to catalyze awareness that water supply and management are the responsibility of not only the municipal corporation or urban water department/manager, but also of urban citizens and the informal actors involved in water supply. While resilience building must ultimately be a joint effort, most of the resilience measures could be initiated at the household or community levels and should have active support from the city municipal corporation.
  • The urban poor require special attention, as they are the most vulnerable to environmental change impacts and water availability, and have the least resources to cope with changes.
  • It is important to draw attention to the critical role of groundwater and the need for management of the groundwater resource base. Local and regional governments must create better systems of monitoring and conserving groundwater resources, including improving education on the importance of groundwater resources, rainwater harvesting and infiltration, and improving conservation and efficiency.
  • Urban water departments/managers in developing countries need ways to communicate and share information. Global environmental change and urbanization further compel all water departments/managers to develop methods of multi-directional communication and water system transparency that will help each water department/manager better plan in the face of constraints on water availability.