- Sumeeta Gawande & Nicole Civita
ARRIVAL OF CLIMATE CRISIS
Updated: Dec 19, 2020
In Umarkhed, each day brings new challenges. Climate change has arrived. Even bore wells have run dry. The intense heat from rising temperatures is made less bearable by recurring drought. The land is dusty and sandy from dehydration. Monsoon seasons are no longer reliable water bearers. When prayed-for rains do come, they ferociously wash the land of its poor topsoil - degraded by years of tillage, monocropping and heavy synthetic inputs. Precious little moisture percolates into the parched ground. Drought and late rains extinguish both crops and farmers' hopes for harvest. Thirsty land and people, many without irrigation and potable water, struggle to overcome the challenges of inadequate infrastructure and unequal access to a life-giving resource. Climate crisis accelerates economic crisis in a region with no "savings account" to draw from.
As hopeful and optimistic as we are, like everything else on this Earth, the Umarkhed region and our vision for it are subject to planetary boundaries. As visionaries, we must be cognizant of the consequences that occur when those boundaries are breached. The climatic shifts of past, present, and future have been front-of-mind as we develop a new agrarian paradigm for a region that is among those most deeply threatened by future change and cascading impacts.
A World Bank report authored by Muthukumara Mani indicates that the climate of central India will likely suffer destructive warming of 1.6 to 2.2 degrees Celsius by the year 2050. This steep warming incline will be accompanied by a substantial decline in the quality of life for people who live in areas designated as “hot spots”. Seven out of the ten most vulnerable hot spots identified in the report are situated in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. Simply put, Umarkhed is on the front lines of climate change.
As warming increases and weather patterns become more erratic and intense, underdevelopment in hot spot regions makes them exceptionally vulnerable. Current conditions of deprivation, characterized by insufficient infrastructure, lack of connectivity, and economic instability, are projected to deteriorate precipitously under both high and moderate emissions scenarios. Specific households within these regions - mainly those engaged in agriculture - are at the greatest risk for negative impact. These negative climate impacts, including unpredictable monsoonal flows, prolonged drought, and accelerated species loss, have already begun to create hardship in the designated hot spots. Unless comprehensive, systems-aware resilience-building interventions are rapidly implemented, the people of Umarkhed are in unconscionable peril.
The MPA Vision seeks to support Umarkhed in taking impactful, locally directed, resilience-building steps toward development, including improvements in water and energy infrastructure, technical assistance, local food-system institutional and community capacity building, along with enhanced local interdependence. To avoid worst-case scenarios from playing out, Umarkhed needs a hopeful vision, followed up with robust financial, technical, and intellectual support, which must be provided by people who are deeply connected to the region and concerned with its future. The team inciting this transition must also be confident that Umarkhed’s residents possess the heart and the will necessary to participate fully in both putting this vision into practice and enabling the practice to evolve into a powerful paradigm shift.