Harpalsinh Chudasama has been working with AKDN in Gujarat, India, for almost two and a half years as a Climate Change Research Manager at AKRSP (India). The organisation helps smallholders achieve food and nutrition security, income security and sustainability. It also generates non-agricultural employment for rural youth and supports community-based organisations to improve the quality of life in their areas. It has worked with over 3.5 million people, 60 percent of them women.
Harpal, too, has seen changes in his lifetime. The eastern part of India has started experiencing cyclones every couple of years. The monsoon period now starts later, with more dry spells between rainy days.
“In the parts of Gujarat where I spent my childhood, the monsoon would usually arrive by 15 June. But now it’s getting delayed to mid or even late July. Most of the farmers practise rainfed agriculture here, so if there is a light shower in the month of June, they will start sowing. But if there is then an elongated dry spell, the kharif (monsoon) crops such as cotton and groundnuts won’t survive. The farmers then have the work and expense of resowing, the growing period and harvest time extend into the rabi (winter) season, and planting the rabi crops late can affect their harvest.”
AKRSP’s climate adaptation work focuses on water and soil management, land development, forestry and other interventions. “For households, we promote micro-irrigation systems [sprinklers and drips], water conservation and storage,” says Harpal. “At the community level, we are working on building check dams [that reduce water velocity and increase surface water storage], bori bunds [structures with sandbags to reduce surface water flow and soil erosion, allowing water time to sink into the ground] and village ponds. We are also working on rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge structures [to collect and store water underground] and on providing drinking water. What people don’t see is that all this is directly linked with climate action.”