Case studies from 21 agriculture projects across India show opportunities for change at scale

NEW DELHI (24 AUGUST 2015) Climate change affects virtually every community on Earth but most adaptation projects are only small-scale. A new report by the World Resources Institute, supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, shows how communities can adapt to a changing climate by rapidly scaling-up adaptation projects. The report, Scaling Success: Lessons from Adaptation Pilots in the Rainfed Regions of India, calls for policymakers to think bigger about climate change adaptation by moving away from small, one-off projects to those that benefit more people and better inform policy.

“Adaptation projects have been patchy in their success, and few have achieved a scale that can be truly transformational,” said Nambi Appadurai, lead author on the report. “It is time to think bigger. This report shows that focusing on local context, knowledge management, partnerships, and networks can offer the breakthrough needed for communities to adapt to a changing climate.”

Scaling Success examines how agricultural communities are adapting to the challenges posed by climate change through the lens of India’s rainfed agriculture regions. Rainfed agriculture currently occupies 58 percent of India’s cultivated land and accounts for up to 40 percent of its total food production. However, these regions face potential production losses of more than $200 billion USD in rice, wheat, and maize by 2050 due to the effects of climate change. Unless action is taken soon at a large scale, farmers will see sharp decreases in revenue and yields.

Rainfed regions across the globe have been an important focus for the first generation of adaptation projects, but to date, few have achieved a scale that can be truly transformational. Drawing on lessons learnt from 21 case studies of rainfed agriculture interventions, the report provides guidance on how to design, fund and support adaptation projects that can achieve scale.

“The findings show that scaling up effective adaptation practices is a complex process which needs to be integrated into all sectors and for which no one size fits all approach is available,” said Ambassador Pio Wennubst, Head of the Global Cooperation Department, SDC. “Scaling up needs to be part of our planning and implementation at all levels. In order to secure social and environmental assets for the future an active participation of a wide range of stakeholders as well as an incentive structure is required.”

The new report was launched at the International Conference on Scaling Up Good Adaptation Practices hosted by WRI India, Watershed Organisation Trust and SDC in New Delhi.