Report by Orissa Diary correspondent; Bhubaneswar: Global Warming, Greenhouse Effect, Climate Change, the single biggest threat to humanity.
Climate change is now widely recognized as the major environmental problem facing the globe. The overwhelming majority of scientists agree that our globe is undergoing through a major climatic change. It is obvious from satellite images and research studies that the ice caps are melting faster, our sea levels are rising, and weather patterns are changing. We are experiencing more water shortages and we will see hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones increasing in ferocity and frequency. The deserts will expand and the world will ultimately have difficulty growing enough food.
Global warming and climate change could affect India’s economic growth unless a range of steps are taken to address the effects of increased surface temperature and its effect on monsoon pattern and river flows. There is a wealth of evidence quantifying the economic costs of climate change in India. Experts have estimated that climate change will induce erratic rainfall and accompanied by more regional variations in temperature and rainfall. This is likely to affect agriculture and, therefore, GDP growth.
Climate change has many implications for the sate of Odisha. For instance, over a decade, Odisha has been teetering from one extreme weather condition to another: from heatwave to cyclone, from drought to flood. The state has been declared disaster-affected for 95 years out of the last 105 years: floods have occurred for 50 years, droughts for 32, and cyclones have struck the state for 11 years. Since 1965, these calamities have not only become more frequent, they are striking areas that have never experienced such conditions before. For instance, a heatwave in 1998 killed around 2,200 people -- most of the casualties were from coastal Odisha, a region known for its moderate climate. Since 1998, almost 3,000 people have died due to heatstroke.
The 1999 super cyclone affected places like Bhubaneswar and Nayagarh, which were never traditionally cyclone-prone. While the 2001 drought parched fields in coastal districts, the unprecedented floods of 2001 submerged 25 of the state’s 30 districts. Many of these areas had never witnessed floods before. Orissa has experienced around 952 small and big cyclones and 451 tornadoes between 1891 and 1970. From 1901 to 1981 there were 380 cyclones, of which 272 resulted from depressions in the Bay of Bengal. Twenty-nine of these cyclones were devastating.
As this is a crisis of global proportion, Concern World Wide in collaboration with Regional Centre for Development Cooperation (RCDC), a non profit organization based in Odisha and partners of Bangladesh is planning to implement a multinational project with an aim to contribute towards poverty alleviation amongst poor communities in coastal areas of the Bay of Bengal, through reducing their risk to the impact of hazards and climate change. This multi national project will be implemented in eight gram panchayats of two districts, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur of Odisha, India and four districts, Khulna, Satkira, Borguna and Potuakhali of Bangladesh. The project in Odisha will cover 84 villages across 8 Panchayats and target 54,148 beneficiaries directly (27,581 men and 26,567 women) and 589,602 beneficiaries indirectly (296,224 men and 293,378 women).
The objective of this project is to build resilience of coastal communities along the Bay of Bengal by increasing their ability, along with that of authorities and organisations, to prepare for and adapt to the impact of hazards and climate change. It was presumed that poor coastal communities in particular are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Hence it is required for them along with the local government functionaries and civil society organisations who are actively involved in the development, planning and implementation of disaster risk reduction activities should enhance their knowledge and understanding about the vagaries and impacts of climate change. This could in turn not only help the local communities to take effective adaptation measures but also contribute to the development of effective policies and programme which could reduce the risk of economic, property and loss of life during the times of unpredicted disasters triggered by climate change.
Concern in collaboration with RCDC officially launched the programme on 25th March 2011 at Hotel New Marrion. Dipankar Datta, Country Director Concern Worlwide, India gave the welcome address and briefed the objective of the event.
This project inauguration was attended by dignitaries of government departments, academic institutions, local community representatives and civil society organizations. Sri. Aurobindo Behara (Principal Secretary Forests and Environment), Sri. Ambika Nanda (UNDP), Sri. Nikunja Sundar Ray (OSDMA), Prof. Gopal Krishna Panda (Head, Dept of Geography, UU), the meeting ended with the vote of thanks by Sri Kailash Chandra Dash, Executive Director, RCDC.