Cycle 1 (2011 Deadline)
Institutional dynamics of adaptation to climate change and urbanization: analysis of rain-fed agricultural-urban lake systems in Bangalore, India
PI: Harini Nagendra, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE)
US Partner: Tom Evans, Indiana University
Project Dates: May 2012 - April 2015
Adaptation to climate change poses a substantial challenge in the often data-poor contexts of the developing world. This is especially so for fresh water resources, which will play an increasingly critical role in ensuring the sustainability of agricultural-urban systems. This project examines how institutions can facilitate adaptation to climate change and urbanization in the highly vulnerable, rain-fed, semi-arid agricultural-urban system of Bangalore. Major focus areas of concern to USAID are directly addressed, including climate change adaptation, coping strategies for water scarcity, and urbanization challenges.
The study area examines a network of 65 lakes in southeastern Bangalore. Differences between lakes within and outside the city boundary provide useful contrasts to address the core questions. While both lake subsets have a similar exposure to climate change, the lakes outside the city exhibit greater institutional nestedness compared to lakes within the city, while the city municipal institutions have greater technical and financial resources. The project addresses three core research questions: (1) the historical evolution of institutional regimes of water allocation to varying climate and precipitation, (2) the current role of institutional nestedness in enabling adaptation to climate change, and (3) future assessments of the ability of user groups to respond to potential climate change. An innovative interdisciplinary approach will be employed, integrating data on changes in climate and precipitation, historical datasets on land cover and common property resources, current land cover from high resolution satellites change, ecological and environmental analyses of lake condition, archival and policy research, interviews with individuals, communities and government institutions, and qualitative scenario building. The project will thus explore the potential for local institutions and collective action to interface with formal, prescriptive yet technically and financially powerful government institutions for sustainable management of fresh water resources in an era of accelerating climate change.
Summary of Recent Activities
During the most recent quarter of their research activities (January-March 2013), Dr. Nagendra and her team made substantial progress in developing their spatial datasets on lakes and common property resources. The team has completed preliminary field visits to about 60 lakes, identifying a set of about 20 lakes that are potential candidates for further in-depth study. An abstract based on the preliminary research conducted so far has been accepted for presentation at the biannual meeting of the International Association for the Study of the Commons, to be held in Japan in June 2013. This meeting, which represents the largest gathering of scholars engaged in research on common pool resources, provides a very appropriate venue for dissemination of the PEER Science project research. In the next few months, an in-depth study of the 20 lakes mentioned above is planned. To that end, the team has investigated sources of high-resolution satellite imagery and received some price quotes and image date selections, and the purchases will be finalized in the next quarter. Digitization has begun of the 1880s historical map, but this has been slowed because of the very high data size of the maps. A new desktop computer is to be purchased to handle these datasets and achieve complete digitization. The team has received permission to access the state historical archives, which will be investigated in detail to see if any further maps are available, as well as to find textual sources of information on how lakes were accessed, used, and governed in the past.
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