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Canada and UK new research consortia will tackle key adaptation issues in Asia

Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) announced today the Asian institutions that would be part of four new multi-partner research consortia for tackling the impacts of climate change in Africa and Asia.

Funded under the Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA) programme, a seven-year, CAD 70 million research initiative, the consortia take a fresh approach to understanding climate change and finding ways to adapt in some of the most vulnerable regions of Africa and Asia.

Organised around four multi-regional consortia, CARIAA will focus on three types of ‘hot spots’, namely semi-arid regions in Africa and South and Central Asia; major river deltas in Africa and South Asia; and the Himalayan River Basins, with a view to contributing to effective policies and action on the ground. The programme straddles countries, regions, and sectors. CARIAA’s research in South and Central Asia is very timely, as demonstrated by the call for action coming out of the eighth Conference on Community Based Adaptation that concludes today in Kathmandu.

CARIAA’s consortium on the Himalayan river basins is led by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) based in Kathmandu.  Its partners in Asia are the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in India, and the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council. It will include case studies in Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. The consortium working in deltas includes the Bangladesh University of Technology and Engineering, and Jadavpur University in India and includes research on the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and the Mahanadi deltas.

The remaining two consortia working in semi-arid regions include the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and the Sustainable Development Policy Institute in Pakistan.

“CARIAA will provide key insights into future water supply and into effective adaptation options available at a local, national and regional scale in the countries dependent of the Hindu Kush Himalayas glaciers,” said director general of ICIMOD Dr David Molden.

“Anticipated changes in the water flow patterns and glacial melt are going to affect the life and livelihoods of the population of Bangladesh”, said executive director of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies Dr Atiq Rahman. “The research undertaken by CARIAA will contribute to the advancement of science and to the welfare of the most vulnerable populations of Bangladesh.”

“Collaboration on adaptation research holds large scale mutual benefits to both Africa and Asia,” chief executive of TERI, India and chairman of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Dr Rajendra K Pachauri said. “It will enrich our knowledge on options available to help the most vulnerable populations in wide range of countries and regions.”

Many areas of Asia are highly vulnerable to climate change. Changes in temperature and precipitation will affect snow and ice in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, and atmospheric circulation patterns that drive the South Asian summer monsoon. These changes could put the livelihoods of millions at risk.

Downstream, populations in South Asian deltas are highly vulnerable to sea-level rise and to changing temperature and rainfall patterns. The IPCC projects that without adaptation measures to safeguard populations from the risks associated with climate change, hundreds of millions of people will be affected by coastal flooding and will be displaced due to land loss by year 2100; the majority of those affected are from East, Southeast and South Asia.

Finally, in semi-arid parts of Asia, more frequent and prolonged droughts threaten livestock and agriculture, a major source of food and income.