Project Title: Indigenous Inquiry on Climate Change and Sustainable Pathways to Adaptation
Participating Indigenous Peoples/Nation:
The project will be carried out in the scheduled1 areas of the Andhra Pradesh, with 14 of the 33 indigenous communities participating, spread across 6 districts. Adivasi communities have a unique relationship with the land and forests, and each community has a distinct culture, way of life, language and knowledge system. Adivasi society is characterized by the spirit of collectivism, cooperation and sharing, where women share an equal position with men.
Proponent Organisation: Anthra and Adivasi Aikya Vedika (An Alliance of Adivasi Peoples in Andhra Pradesh, India)
Cooperating Organizations: Yakshi and Member Organisations of the Adivasi Aikya Vedika
Overall Project Objective
To co-develop and reclaim empowering platforms where Adivasi communities can actively participate in and use their indigenous knowledge to assess the impacts of climate change on their livelihoods, culture and ecosystems, examine the impacts of national and international climate change mitigation and adaptation policies on Adivasi communities, and develop and implement indigenous strategies to adapt to climate change, while enhancing their sovereignty over land and forests, agro-ecological food farming systems and bio-cultural diversity.
Brief Description of Project:
Anthra and Adivasi Aikya Vedika, an alliance of Indigenous Peoples Organisations in Andhra Pradesh, propose to use indigenous enquiry methods to assess the impacts of climate change on indigenous people and their livelihoods, along with understanding their coping strategies. The project also aims to strengthen the resilience of peoples by securing rights to natural resources particularly land and forests, which are consequently under threat from mining companies, state forest programs and neo-liberal forces. Therefore this project will be mindful of convergence of these undermining forces and climate change.
This project will also co-create with indigenous people strategies to advocate for Climate Justice at the regional, national and international level.
Local ecosystem, resource management and livelihoods practices:
Adivasis look at land as an ecosystem, which integrates the physical, biological and spiritual spaces of their existence. Their struggle has been primarily around the control of this space for their survival. Women play a historical role as seed creators, preservers of animal and plant genetic resources and organizers for family and community. Agriculture, livestock and forest produce are the major source of their livelihood. Shifting cultivation is widely practiced in the forests.
The community systems of conservation, labor and knowledge sharing are the core elements of food farming systems of Adivasis. Indigenous communities still practice collective farming traditions in which different members of the community contribute different resources- labour, land, animals, seeds. A traditional system of sharing known as ‘naamu’ is practiced, where a farmer lends seeds to another farmer, who in turn repays the donor with twice the amount of seeds.
Climatic conditions/trends in the assessment site
Meteorological data in India of the past one hundred years shows that March and April are warming faster than May and June which are supposed to be the hottest summer months. The average temperature for March has increased by 0.76 C, in April by 0.58C, and in May and June by 0.17 C, the maximum increase occurring in the last three decades (Down to Earth, May 16-31, 2009).
The south-west monsoon account for 75% of the countries rainfall and occurs from June to September. Rainfall trends in the past couple of decades have shown increasing erratic rainfall with delays in onset of the south-west monsoons, heavy rainfall concentrated in 1-2 days, unseasoned rains, delays and disrupted behaviour of the north-east monsoons and continuous years of scanty rains.
Potential climate change impacts on the ecosystem and communities:
There are several changes in the biodiversity and natural resources, which are linked to the development paradigm, climate change or more likely, a combination of the two. At this stage it is difficult to differentiate and delineate so here we present some preliminary generic information on changes in ecosystems and communities:
20 years ago, there were more than 60 diverse food crops across the Adivasi areas. Government agriculture policies pushed people to grow mono crops or plantations for an outside market, resulting in a loss of biodiversity, food and forest produce. Erratic rainfalls have resulted in lower yields. Farmers, who used to follow their own traditional seasonal rainfall / weather calendars with respect to farming, appear to be in a dilemma as to whether to follow their traditional wisdom/ practices or respond to changing weather patterns.
Certain varieties, which would be planted at the onset of the season are no longer planted due to erratic rains, potentially leading to germ-plasm loss, as farmers are unable to save and store the seeds.
Traditional healers are finding it very difficult to procure medicinal plants, which were easily available a decade ago.
Wild tubers, like Dioscorea oppositifolia traditionally consumed by Adivasis in the rainy season are in steep decline possible due to erratic rains .
Farmers have observed a significant increase in diseases that affect cattle, goats and poultry and the emergence of new diseases For instance, over the last ten years the occurrence of Anthrax3 in Visakhapatnam Adivasi areas has increased to endemic levels. Alarmingly, Adivasi populations are largely unfamiliar with the disease, which was non-endemic in the past and hence is a significant challenge to Adivasis’