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Vulnerability to Climate Induced Natural Disasters with Special Emphasis on Coping Strategies of the Rural Poor in Coastal Orissa, India

This paper was prepared for a COP-8 side event by the Indian delegation in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme. It is a case study of climate-induced impacts in India's Orissa state — based on household data — with links to food security and rural development.

Coping strategies to reduce vulnerability are important in areas prone to recurring floods and cyclones. The strategies vary from minor dietary changes and increased reliance on off-farm income, to major adjustments including disposal of assets and out-migration. The results of this work suggest that 96 per cent of the participating households have adopted at least one strategy to address drought, flood or cyclone vulnerability.

The report makes five key recommendations to reduce vulnerability to climate-induced natural disasters. First, that coping mechanisms should be supported by scientific crop research to reduce losses due to extreme events. Second, that as far as agriculture is concerned, temporary monetary reliefs should be replaced by a permanent solution. Third, that drought proofing should be prioritised over drought relief. Fourth, that the feed requirements for livestock in affected farming communities be addressed. Fifth, that governments and specialised non-governmental organisations create self-help groups to support local communities.