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Updated: May 26, 2012 15:16 IST

Resolve and evolve

Divya Trivedi
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Random growth: Gorakhpur needs attention. Photo: Akhilesh Kumar
The Hindu
Random growth: Gorakhpur needs attention. Photo: Akhilesh Kumar

Indore, Surat and Gorakhpur are to get their own climate change resilience indicators

Global warming and climate change have become part of our daily parlance with them affecting key aspects of our lives. But questions on how to combat and minimise the adverse effects of climate change are not easy to come by. In a country like ours, diverse geographical areas have localised issues that need particular attention. For instance, questions on how to manage the 300 tons of solid waste that Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh generates daily are not readily available to us. But Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN) supported by Rockefeller Foundation is attempting to answer them.

The project has selected 10 cities across Asia where it plans to launch climate change resilience indicators this year with an aim to help local governments and non-governmental organisations design and implement ways to cope with the impact of climate change. Gorakhpur, Indore and Surat are the three cities chosen in India, while the others are Bandar Lampung and Semarang in Indonesia, Chiang Rai and Hat Yai in Thailand and Da Nang and Quy Nhon in Vietnam. These cities will aim to complete customised sets of close to 40 indicators each, based on quantitative and qualitative factors, over the coming months and will be the first urban areas in the world to apply these tools, according to the project managers.

The indicators, developed with the help of U.S. based Institute for Social and Environmental Transition (ISET), are expected to guide local interventions and allow the cities to monitor change in a number of key areas including resilience to climate hazards and in sectors particularly public health, water supply and mangrove areas.

“The significance of this project doesn't just lie with the indicators themselves, but with the fact that local planners are gaining a deeper understanding of key climate resilience issues and how to address them locally,” said Dr. Stephen Tyler, a senior associate with ISET. The indicators will be determined by criteria such as capacity of water supply systems, coverage of sewerage and solid waste services, incidence of water logging among others.

Once ready, municipal authorities and NGOs in the cities are expected to use these indicators as tools to plan and assess climate change resilience programmes in a move aimed at protecting urban residents, and especially vulnerable communities, from the consequences of extreme weather conditions brought about by climate change.

For instance, once the indicators are ready, it may be possible to address inadequacies of government infrastructure in these cities. Around 78 per cent of Gorakhpur lacks any kind of underground municipal sewerage system. The existing sewer lines are linked to freshwater bodies causing eutrophication and degradation of the reservoirs. While malaria and dysentery are regular problems, recent years have seen a spate in diarrhoeal diseases and the introduction of Japanese encephalitis. The city's vulnerability is further increased due to the low lying areas, open drains and lack of proper solid waste management systems.

“From this year onwards, these pilot cities in Asia will be demonstrating the practical value of these indicators in improving the climate resilience of these cities. Once that happens, they can serve as models for other cities in these countries and elsewhere to adopt,” said Dr. Tyler.

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