The village of Desaraju Palli is home to 183 families and a total population of 653 inhabitants. The village is bifurcated by railroad tracks. Approximate 400 villagers live in the main village and approximately 250 in the colony across the railroad track
The total land area is 500 acres; 400 acres of these are used for agriculture. The village is located 16km off the sea, 0.8km off the Manjalaru river and 0.5km off the Nagarjuna Sagar Project canal.
Carpentry and construction. 30 families generate income from agriculture. In the harvest season, most of the female villagers work in tobacco processing. Existing skilled labourers include tailoring, milk production and painting.
Local resources the community depends on, and for what purpose:
The community depends on clear water for drinking purposes. As agriculture is an important livelihood of the community, the community also depends on the availability of water for irrigation.
Local threats to resources:
In Desaraju Palli, clean drinking water and water for irrigation are scarce. This is mostly due to climatic conditions and hazards in the area. High temperatures cause a high evaporation rate of surface water and put constant pressure on the groundwater.
The community is most concerned about include: During a vulnerability and needs assessment conducted in the community in summer 2011 villagers documented the following past climate and extreme weather experiences in Desaraju Palli: severe cyclones which in the memory of the villagers became more frequent and more intense over the past decades (two major cyclones in 1980s, 5 major cyclones in 1990s and 2000s, more than one major cyclone per year in 2008 and 2010); more frequent heavy rainfall and floods (3 floods in the 1980s, 6 floods from 2000 to 2010); more frequent periods of extreme heat (in last decade alone the community experienced extreme heat waves in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008 and 2009); extremes in rainfall patterns (very low rainfall in dry season, very heavy rains in rainy season). This is in line with more general observations of climate change in India and Andhra Pradesh, which highlighted increases in average mean temperatures with a growing dynamic since the 1970s, gradually increasing frequency of very hot days and reduced rainfall outside the rainy seasons especially at India’s east and West coast, an increase of extreme rainfall events over the last decades, a gradual rise of the sea level of around 1.3mm annually and a reduced frequency, but growing intensity of cyclones. For the future a temperature rise of at least 3°C until mid-century is expected for Andhra Pradesh, with maximum increases occurring in the already dry month of March, April and May. Against the India wide trend average rainfall during monsoon seasons is projected to decrease in Andhra Pradesh. Coupled with projected increases in mean temperatures, heat periods and drought, stress on water resources will become even stronger in the future. A reduced frequency, but growing intensity of cyclones is projected for the coast of Tamil Nadu also in the future (sources considered for general past and expected changes: amongst others India’s first and second National Communication to the UNFCCC, India Meteorological Department, IPCC 4th Assessment Report).
Level of exposure to these hazards:
The exposure of Desaraju Palli to climate hazards is high. The village is located in a low-lying exposed location close to the shore in the Bay of Bengal, rendering it highly exposed to temperature rises and heat waves, drought as well as heavy rains and floods during rainy seasons. Due to its proximity to a major canal (Nagarjun Sagar project canal) which end in the Bay of Bengal (distance of Desaraju Palli to the shore is 16km), the village is highly prone to flooding, including by saltwater intruding from the sea.
Level of sensitivity:
The community’s level of sensitivity to these climate hazards is very high. The village’s ecosystems and infrastructure (buildings, roads, electricity and communication infrastructure etc.) have been little resistant and only weakly protected against climate hazards. Past storms and cyclones, heavy rains and flood water have destroyed green areas or turned them into fallow, led to land erosion and to destruction of graze-land and agricultural fields. Cyclones and floods have also severely damaged agricultural equipment, road and electricity connections, and the pond has suffered from saltwater intrusion and contamination. Furthermore, longer and more intense periods of extreme heat and low rainfall have led to the drying of graze-land, cultivable fields and to a further deterioration of water quality. This further reduced the habitat for flora and fauna, the availability of fertile land for agriculture, and of land providing feed to cattle. The salinization of land areas, ground water and surface water – incurred by saltwater intrusion through the canal or directly from the sea during major storm surges, as well as lack of rainfall in dry seasons – has affected the local ecosystem and the community particularly strongly. Fertile land areas turned into fallow, reducing biodiversity and availability of cultivable land. The community has faced severe scarcity of drinking water, as the ground water is the major source of potable water. Groundwater sources have decreased due to high temperatures and drought, and become more saline due to backwater intrusion. Cyclones and floods carrying faeces and other contaminants have further reduced water quality in the village. Still, the dependence on existing water sources in the village is very high, as quality and supply with piped water is very limited and due to low income levels most villagers cannot afford purchasing large amounts of bottled water. Salinization of canals and ponds due to storm surges has led to severe scarcities in water for irrigation and animal feed. Supply with municipal piped water cannot fill the gap in fresh water, as supply is limited and irregular. The described climate hazards have had negative impacts on animal and human health in the community, and in case of cyclones, severe floods and extreme heat also cost villagers’ and animals’ lives. The community has struggled with poor health due to scarcity of drinking water and with waterborne diseases due to contamination of groundwater after floods. Stagnated water after floods has created favourable conditions for mosquito breeding, which accelerated transmission of diseases. The villagers have experienced raising costs for medical care due to climate change impacts; access to medical aid has at the same time become more difficult during or after extreme weather events which damaged local road infrastructure and transport systems. Costs for animal health care have risen and many farmers have lost cattle due to injuries and diseases.
Level of adaptive capacity:
Before the interventions described below the adaptive capacity of the community to the impacts of climate change, especially to the reduction of drinking water sources, was low. Financial means for avoidance of or recovery from climate hazards are very low (for instance only few villagers have the means to address drinking water scarcity by purchasing bottled water). The villagers so far have mostly been able to respond post-hoc to climate challenges, in terms of reconstruction of bunds, destroyed fields, equipment etc. after extreme weather events, partly supported by government programme. Knowledge, skills, systems and processes for a proactive management of climate related risks, however, were hardly developed. Before the interventions described below villagers had hardly any knowledge about the role of climate change in local environmental hazards, and neither of options to deal proactively with climate hazards and their impacts on livelihoods. There were no institutional structures supported by the Government or any other organisation for climate change adaptation existing in the village.