The semi-arid regions of India are characterized by harsh climates that can create challenging conditions for the human populations that reside in them. These climatic risks are often compounded by non-climatic stressors, which exacerbates the risk that these communities are exposed to. Within these communities, risks often act asymmetrically, impacting the existing vulnerabilities associated with class, caste and gender. Finally, despite the global nature of climate change, these semi-arid regions are recognized as climate change hotspots because of the expected sensitivity to climatic change in these areas, and the vast populations living within them. The responses to these challenges haveoften focused on managing the risks associated with the variability in these harsh climates (e.g. drought relief). Despite the value of these responses, resilience and genuine adaptation requires a comprehensive approach that recognizes the barriers and enablers to improving the wellbeing of these communities through transformative change.

The ASSAR consortium’s objective is to enhance our understanding of climate vulnerability and adaptation in the semi-arid regions of India and Africa. Since we recognize that climate is only one of the drivers of vulnerability within these regions, we will attempt to assess its influence on, and interactions with, other social, economic and political drivers. We anticipate that this will help us develop a holistic understanding of the drivers and determinants of vulnerability in these areas and identify the barriers and enablers of sustained adaptation. Ultimately, we seek to help transform current adaptation practice to achieve proactive, widespread adaptation across multiple scales to advance adaptive livelihoods, especially for vulnerable groups.

ASSAR’s research features a high level of integration across research streams and incorporates cross-cutting themes on gender, and wellbeing.The research is sequenced through an initial regional diagnostic study that captures the current state of affairs and evaluates trajectories of change. The regional research programmes then focus on specific research sites offering contrasting lenses for understanding adaptation; knowledge synthesis and sharing activities are integrated throughout the programme to strengthen planning and implementation capacity.