Locked Houses, Fallow Lands: Climate change and migration in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, India

 
03/25/2021 - Rising temperatures, cloud bursts, and dengue outbreaks: Climate change acts as a risk modifier influencing migration conditions in the Indian Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. Employing the latest climate data, a new report created under the umbrella of the East African Peru India Climate Capacities (EPPIC) project examines how climate impacts such as changing rainfall patterns and increasing extreme weather events affect the state's mountain agriculture and migration processes. In today’s launch, researchers and panelists also discussed what policy measures are needed to manage migration flows and revitalize the economy.
Locked Houses, Fallow Lands: Climate change and migration in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, India

“This report explicitly aims to provide an evidence-based foundation for a science-policy dialogue,” Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director Emeritus at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Ajay Mathur, Director General of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), India, explain in their joint foreword. “It can serve to initiate conversations on the topic and strengthen climate action plans and migration policies. The planetary surface temperature needs to be kept below 2°C so that rural hill communities in Uttarakhand can continue to live in the places they call home.”

Drafted by researchers from PIK and TERI, the study “Locked Houses, Fallow Lands: Climate Change and Migration in Uttarakhand, India” discusses how climate change impacts influence the decision of people to migrate from the hills to the plains, leaving a growing number of uninhabited villages behind. It also makes concrete policy recommendations, including ensuring safe and orderly migration of those on the move, creating and supporting alternative livelihood options for the state’s largely subsistence-based farmers or training them to diversify their crops. With the right mitigation steps “meaningful opportunities to ameliorate the impacts of climate change will continue to exist,” the authors conclude. “The stabilisation of rural livelihoods and investments in improved traditional agriculture are crucial stepping stones to a sustainable future for Uttarakhand.”

“People in the region whose livelihood depend on agriculture are really noticing, observing, and suffering from the impacts of climate change,” the report’s lead author Himani Upadhyay said during today’s launch. “It affects their household storage of food grains, their food security, their income, and their resources. All of those things are linked and additional research is required to further explore these dynamics.”

Read the report:

Upadhyay, H., Vinke, K., Bhardwaj, S., Becker, M., Irfan, M., George, N.B., Biella, R., Arumugam, P., Murki, S.K., Paoletti, E. (2021): Locked Houses, Fallow Lands: Climate Change and Migration in Uttarakhand, India. Report, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Potsdam and The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri), New Delhi.

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