This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Climate Change, Water And Food Security And Human Health

More from IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

Climate change is a huge crisis that is posing a threat to all. Today, we live in an era of uncertainty with great risk to life, lack of access to basic services and livelihoods. One of the major reasons behind this is the depletion of significant amounts of natural resources over time, rapid urbanisation, population explosion, etc.

In this context, the Centre for Environment, Climate Change and Sustainable Development (CECCSD) Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi, Tarun Bharat SanghIndia Water Portal and Parmarth Samaj Sevi Sansthan organised a lecture on Climate Change, Water and Food Security and Human Health by Dr M Dinesh Kumar, Executive Director of Institute for Resource Analysis and Policy (IRAP), Hyderabad.

The purpose of the webinar was to collate evidence and knowledge, understand and analyse it and collectively propose a policy practice to address the various challenges of climate change.

Dr Dinesh Kumar begins with the conceptual framework of food security, i.e. food security deals with food supplies; with two key components, physical access to food and food absorption. Climate can affect the ability of humans to consume and acquire nutritional value from food. He emphasises the importance of the temporal variability in rainfall and other weather parameters.

He looks at India’s food security challenge from the land and water dimensions. He states that India’s current food grain production (fine and coarse cereals and pulses) is hovering around 304 tons. Yet, the per capita food grain availability has been declining since 2001. Also, there is a change in consumption patterns as one can observe increasing demands for animal products like poultry products, eggs and milk-based items.

Most of the water requirement in the country is for food production. The climatic conditions, the amount of rainfall, aridity, etc., vary from one region to another. This has a significant impact on the water demand for food production. Thus, there is a major imbalance in water demand and water availability for agriculture in different regions.

Limited arable land is a major constraint for water-rich regions to produce sufficient yields to meet the demand, which puts enormous pressure on naturally water-scarce regions like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat etc. to increase production by over-exploiting its water resources.

In the naturally water-scarce regions, groundwater resources are depleting due to overexploitation for agricultural needs. For example, large parts of Rajasthan, particularly western Rajasthan, Northern Gujarat, and a few pockets of Maharashtra, are massively over-exploited. Groundwater scarcity is causing a huge impact on food security due to shifts in cropping patterns from cereals to high-value cash crops.

Impact Of Climate Change On Food Security

Representative Image. (Photo by Holly Wilmeth, USAID on Pixnio)

He further points out how crop physiological models show the negative impact of temperature rise on wheat yields due to faster crop maturity and a positive impact on rice yields due to increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Climate change can impend food security by affecting food supplies through a rise in temperatures, reduction in water availability for crop production, etc., in semi-arid and arid regions.

Similarly, climate can affect food absorption by reducing the ability to consume and benefit from the food, lowering people’s nutritional and health status. He reiterated that India faces increasing food security challenges with rising income and population levels.

What Can Be The Areas For Future Action?

  1. Managing land and water is key to sustaining India’s agricultural production and food security.
  2. Generating precise scientific data on climate and hydrology is vital to address the grave issues posed by climate change. The scientific database would help plan for climate-induced impacts on food security.
  3. From the way India has managed natural calamities, it is evident that India can adapt to the changes that the current predictions on climate change highlight.
  4. Strengthening of capabilities for groundwater management in the water-scarce regions.
  5. Transfer of water from water-abundant regions to water-scarce regions is a practical strategy. 
  6. Enhancing water productivity in irrigated agriculture through institutional interventions is significant to strengthen our acquired capabilities.

Dr Kumar asserts that the unawareness of the serious challenges posed by climate change at the National level is very high. The government is not willing to explore the concept of water demand management, water pricing and micro-irrigation techniques. The basic premise on which we need to study climate change must be sound and based on facts and figures.

woman carrying water
Representative Image. (Source: flickr)

The consequences of climate variability on our water resources are far more serious than what appears to be the consequences of climate change. India lacks on the front of long-term planning of depleting water resources and management of the crisis.

NGOs are actively participating in their domain, i.e. at the local level, through awareness campaigns, groundwater management, rainwater harvesting, etc. But the need is for national-level initiatives to be taken by the government.

Models like virtual land and water trading are of significance where a water-scarce state can be on a trade agreement with a state having land in abundance, which can produce surplus at subsidised rates. Since approximately 55% of the Indian population depends upon agriculture, it is extremely important to prioritise the amount of water allocation for environmental needs in a given basin.

The economic feasibility of the vertical farming technique, which will determine whether this concept will be developed or not, has not yet been adequately assessed. Also, generally, the ideas proposed by civil society are taken into consideration by the government while formulating policies. Still, there is a need to build coherence between the government and civil society organisations.

Climate Literacy Programs

Dr Indira Khurana states that with the increasing water literacy and climate literacy programs, there is an improvement in water augmentation and management techniques, the revival of water resources and youth participation in states like Rajasthan and Maharashtra.

In a diverse and widespread country like India, one should look at local solutions so that at least we have nutrition and food security in the far-flung areas and villages.

The need of the hour is for a paradigm shift from seeking a straitjacket solution of applying ideas universally across the country to adopting micro and macro level steps to ensure food security and maintenance of good health.

Acknowledgement: Tarishi Chaturvedi is pursuing Masters in Development Policy Planning and Practice from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Tuljapur, Maharashtra.

Featured Image via flickr
You must be to comment.

More from IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

Similar Posts

By Maria Khanam

By Satyaprakash

By Connecting Dreams Foundation CDF

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below