Tuesday 6
Trajectories of resilience
Craig Allen
› 15:40 - 16:40 (1h)
Desertification – Development Nexus and the Factors Contributing to Drought Resilience in the Thar Desert Region (India)
Nisha Varghese  1@  
1 : Indira Gandhi National Open University  (IGNOU)  -  Website
Dr. Nisha Varghese Assistant Professor, School of Extension and Development Studies Block 15-F, IGNOU Maidan Garhi New Delhi - 110068 -  Inde

The Thar Desert, located in the arid northwest region of India and southeastern Pakistan, is the world's seventh largest desert. About three-fifths of its total geographical area lies in the Indian state of Rajasthan and it is one of the most densely populated deserts in the world. This ecologically sensitive desert ecosystem is currently subjected to increasing human and livestock pressure. The author, in this paper has tried to show development as a two faced coin where one face is increasing desertification and the other contributing to drought resilience. The forest cover in the districts constituting the Thar Desert has shown a declining trend as has also the area under other land uses, owing to the land being diverted to cultivation. This can have serious implications on sustainability of the livelihoods, extent of poverty, health and other human development indicators of the people in this region. In this context, the author has tried to find out the relationship between development and desertification by working out indices for the two. The districts have then been ranked on the basis of desertification indices and development indices. The results reveal that the districts having worst desertification indicators are the ones having better development indicators bringing in front the basic question that is development taking place at a cost?

Drought is an endemic natural phenomenon, which increases in frequency and intensity with increasing desertification. The author has tried to identify the various factors that lead to drought resilience in this eco-fragile region. These factors have been classified as (i) Indigenous and (ii) Institutional factors. Under indigenous factors, the author discusses the coping strategies or adaptations to drought which have evolved over the years. The mixed cropping pattern practiced in Thar includes cereals, pulses, oilseeds, commercial crops etc. to meet the household requirements of the people, especially food security of the people and fodder requirements for animals. The major livestock include cattle, camel, goat, sheep, etc., which can withstand extreme climatic conditions. The people store food- grains harvested in normal years in earthen made storage structures or “Kothis” for its use in subsequent drought years. Similarly, people have developed under-ground structures known as “Nadi or Takka” to collect runoff water during normal rainy season for its use in subsequent years. The people in this region use cow dung as the main source of household fuel which again helps them to reserve green bushes and trees in this eco-fragile area. Besides, there are also some institutional factors such as the institutional network for scientific support of technologies is very strong in this region, non-governmental organizations have also taken up projects on community efforts in building resilience and also the government policies like the recently introduced employment guarantee scheme help people to build drought resilience. Thus, a large number of individual and institutional factors have helped to make livelihood systems more resilient in this inhospitable region of the state.

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