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[KATHMANDU] A global team of scientists, including from Africa and Asia, will collaborate to study the effects of climate and environmental change in both continents and share knowledge to help some of the most vulnerable regions adapt.

The seven-year, US$ 64 million cross-border research programme, announced last month (30 April) in Kathmandu at the launch of the Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA), involves four research consortia that will study climate change impacts in semi-arid areas, river basins, deltas and glaciers in Africa and Asia.  It is funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and UK’s Department for International Development (DfID).  

The consortia will cover adaptation in the Himalayas, water and resilience, deltas, vulnerability, migration as adaptation, resilience in semi-arid economies and adaptation at scale in semi-Arid regions.

“Adapatation strategies need to be at the local or sub-national level and, therefore, all countries in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region need to address them accordingly, based on each country's policy environment,” K. S. Murali, IDRC's senior programme officer with CARIAA, tells SciDev.Net.

“CARIAA will provide key insights into future water supply and into effective adaptation options available at a local, national and regional scale in the countries dependent of the Hindu Kush Himalayas glaciers,” David Molden, director-general of the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) says.

ICIMOD is leading the consortium on the Himalayan river basins. The Hindu Kush Himalayan region, the largest concentration of snow and ice outside the north and south poles, feeds major Asian rivers that take care of the water needs of 1.3 billion people downstream.

The launch of CARIAA coincided with a week-long international conference on community-based adaptation (CBA) which produced a Kathmandu declaration on climate finance for CBA. Given the shortfall in adaptation funding, the declaration called for half of the money raised to tackle climate change to be spent on adaptation for the poorest and most vulnerable people.

Since 2010, the global adaptation fund has had total funding of over US$ 220 million, of which only US$ 78 million has been disbursed.

Christina Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, told the CBA conference that the adaptation funds for poor countries are “pathetically insufficient” and emphasised the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions rapidly to keep the adaptation costs low.

“If the global emissions of greenhouse gases continue to grow, the costs of adaptation will exponentially rise to the point where adaptation is not only extremely difficult but virtually impossible,” she warned.

This article has been produced by SciDev.Net's South Asia desk.