Online tool helps people in rural India adapt to climate change

Tool allows easy access to weather forecasts, geographic data through mobile phone or web.

Press release, 20 October 2022
UN climate change conference (COP27)
A series of pages related to IIED's activities at the 2022 UNFCCC climate change summit in Sharm el-Sheikh

An online tool that gives people in rural India access to drought early warnings and geographic data to help them find ways to adapt to climate change has been devised by IIED and is being rolled out in several states.

The Climate Resilience Information System and Planning Tool (CRISP-M) allows communities to see information such as existing land use, soil type, drainage characteristics and ground water conditions for their local area which helps them to plan how best to respond to climate change.

It has been designed to work in tandem with the Indian government’s nationwide social protection programme which guarantees those without other means of income a wage in return for work constructing water conservation or harvesting structures. 

The tool has already been rolled out in Raisen and Sehore districts of Madhya Pradesh state by climate saathis (Hindi for ‘friends’) – volunteers who are trained in how to use it and who then explain its purpose and capabilities to their peers in local communities on laptops or mobile phones. The government hopes to take the tool nationwide within a year.

Ritu Bharadwaj, a senior researcher at IIED, said: “People have been living in and farming India’s rural areas for millennia and there’s a wealth of local and traditional knowledge among communities. This tool allows them to combine that knowledge with geographic or hydrological data about their local area to give them the best chance to adapt to climate change.”

    Watch a video explaining the CRISP-M tool and the impact it is having in rural India

    India is considered one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, susceptible to cyclones, heat waves, flooding and droughts. The country’s first ever climate change assessment suggests things are only going to get worse, with temperatures predicted to rise by 4.4°C by the end of the century. 

    Rukmani, 55, lives in the remote village of Barela in Madhya Pradesh and has been farming wheat, maize and grams to support her five children and four stepchildren since her husband fell ill and could no longer work. As rainfall patterns have changed in her village, leading to loss of crops, Rukmani used the tool to help her to decide what type of water conservation structures were needed to support long-term climate resilience in her village.

    Rukmani said: “When I go to village meetings, people look at me with respect and awe because I have information that they don’t have. But I just don’t use the information to help myself. I share it, so that others can benefit from it.”  

    In the village of Puddar, in panchayat Khamkhua, Madhya Pradesh, climate change is having a big impact on agricultural production. After prolonged dry spells the soils do not have the capacity to hold rainwater, which is then lost as run-off.

    Villagers knew the government’s social protection scheme could help them create water conservation and harvesting structures but they lacked the scientific and technical knowledge to identify which structures were most appropriate.

    Four villagers – Jagdish, Raghuvir, Tula and Mahesh – used the CRISP-M tool to find information on existing land use, soil type, drainage characteristics, geo-morphology, slope, ground water conditions to understand where to construct a pond to store excess water during the rainy season, that would otherwise be lost as runoff, and use it to irrigate crops.

    For more information or to request an interview, contact Sarah Grainger: +44 7503 643332 or