NEW DELHI: The majority of the states in the ecologically fragile Eastern Himalayan Region are the most vulnerable to climate change, according to the National Climate Vulnerability Assessment Report.
The report by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) identifies the most vulnerable states and districts in India with respect to current climate risk and the main drivers of vulnerability. The assessment is based on a set of common indicators and common methodology.
The relatively high vulnerable states are Jharkhand, Mizoram, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, and West Bengal. These states require prioritisation of adaptation interventions.
District-level vulnerability indices show that Assam, Bihar, and Jharkhand have over 60% of districts in the category of highly vulnerable districts.
A total of 29 provinces were considered for the analysis and a set of 14 indicators of vulnerability was used in the assessment capturing both ‘sensitivity’ and ‘adaptive capacity’ of states.
“Geographically, most states with a relatively high vulnerability form a cluster in the eastern part of India. They are Jharkhand, Mizoram, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, and West Bengal. Among these states, Mizoram, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, and the hill districts of West Bengal are situated in the ecologically fragile Eastern Himalayan Region,” said the report.
The location of most of these states overlaps with disaster-prone areas according to multi-hazard maps prepared by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA, 2016). This puts those states in a doubly disadvantageous position.
States with relatively high vulnerability are mostly poor states with a low per capita income and low Human Development Index, indicating a low overall adaptive capacity.
“A lack of forest cover, high sensitivity of the health sector (disease prevalence) coupled with a low adaptive capacity due to a lack of health care workers are the major drivers of vulnerability in these states,” the report prepared by experts from several national academic and research institutions.
The high percentage of the BPL population, the prevalence of rainfed agriculture, and a lack of crop insurance, compounding agricultural vulnerability and in many cases, vulnerability is multidimensional, and many indicators appear to be drivers of vulnerability for some states.
“The multidimensionality of vulnerability is evident in, for example, the most vulnerable states of Jharkhand, Mizoram, and Bihar. They have multiple drivers of vulnerability (6-7 for each state) encompassing biophysical, socio-economic, livelihood, and institutional and infrastructure-based indicators. They perform relatively poorly with respect to many indicators, especially those capturing institutional development and infrastructure, which play important roles in building adaptive capacity,” it added.