Icrisat cautions India against impact of climate change

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi, Sep 23 | Updated: Sep 24 2007, 06:26am hrs
The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat) has cautioned India against the possible impact of climate change which is likely jeopardise the livelihood of a large number of people living below the poverty line.

There are other associated problems like desertification, land degradation, biodiversity loss, water scarcity and shortage of fossil fuel.

According to an estimate one billion poor people in the world are vulnerable to the impact of climate change and other related problems. India accounts for 25.93% of this one billion world's poor who are likely to bear the burnt of climate change, while China accounts for 16.66% and the rest of Asia-Pacific accounting for 18.30%.

The climate change impact on peoples' livelihood is also likely to felt in other parts of the globe outside Asia, which is the hub of the world's poor.

In sub-Saharan Africa 23.94% of the estimated one billion global population will bear the impact, while Latin America and the Caribbean would account for 6.22% and northeastern and northern Africa 4.57%.

Speaking to FE, the Icrisat director-general, William D Dar said, "It would be an unpardonable crime if we view the situation in business as usual manner. The poor can be made less vulnerable with greater science and knowledge-based interventions and more importantly significant donor support from for research and implementation. Unless we gear up to the situation the UN Millennium Development Goals for reducing global poverty by half by 2015 will be difficult to meet."

Many parts of the world are already showing signs of physical water scarcityIndia, eastern Australia, Pakistan, China, Central Asia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, North Africa, parts of southern Africa, southern USA and northern Mexico. With greater demands from other sectors, the water availability for agriculture is getting limited.

Dar who has been recently elected to chair the science and technology committee of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification said that Icrisat has been working for the benefit of the people in the dryland areas and would help the Indian government in its initiatives for the poor. Icrisat is also working with several global agencies and national governments in an effort to improve the conditions of the people in dryland tropics.

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) has launched a challenge programme called Oasis to fight desertification.

In India, Icrisat, as an affiliated institution of CGIAR, is implementing it through India Council of Agricultural Research. Apart from CGIAR institutions, six institutions are supporting Oasis like CIRAD/IRD, European Consortium for Agricultural Research in the Tropics, European Commission's Institute for Environment Sustainability of the Joint Research Centre, European DesertNet and SahelSahara Observatory.