Respond to climate risks, fight inequality, build resilience

India is seeing an increase in the frequency, intensity, and variability of climate-induced extreme weather events like floods, droughts, cyclones, and wildfires. With 3 in 4 districts vulnerable to hydro-meteorological disasters, and India at risk of breaking the human survivability for heat, these extreme conditions are worsening inequalities in India and hindering progress on Sustainable Development Goals. For example, such risks disproportionately impact low-income communities in rural and urban areas, worsening poverty, disrupting access to essential services, and damaging property.

As the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction passes us by, we look at how civil society is responding to risks and building resilience to reduce losses from disasters — through inclusive solutions tailored to communities’ needs.

Recognising that communities in disaster-prone areas lack access to information about climate-related disasters, the Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS), a non-profit, in partnership with Microsoft and Gramener, has developed an AI-based disaster risk assessment model ‘Sunny Lives’. Utilising high-resolution satellite imagery and open-source datasets, this provides hyper-local risk information on such disasters, enabling effective early warning systems, and recommends pre-emptive refuge options for people in need. Currently operating in Maharashtra, Odisha and Delhi, and newly in Uttarakhand, this model can enable government authorities, disaster response authorities, and aid organisations to formulate better risk-averse strategies.

Weather advisory being provided to Satyavati, a beneficiary in Pune. © SEEDS

Inadequate local climate resilience and the lack of customised disaster mitigation and preparedness strategies have severe consequences for communities, like those residing in low-lying coastal areas. To address this and build local climate capacity, ATREE, another non-profit, aims to establish Disaster-prepared Gram Sabhas in flood-prone panchayats of Kerala’s Allapuzha district. Through this programme, Gram Sabhas in each ward will educate communities about disaster preparedness; promote mobile applications that disseminate weather and climate information early; provide training to last-mile workers; and establish disaster response teams.

Civil society is also partnering with an old ally — nature — to build resilience. Regions such as Kachchh in Central and South Gujarat are susceptible to heat waves, cyclones, and floods, and are witnessing deteriorating natural resources; the Arabian Sea is witnessing more intense cyclones of late too. In response, VIKAS Centre for Development, a non-profit, is harnessing the power of nature-based solutions, by growing a multi-species bio-shield — including mangrove and other species — along Gujarat’s coastline, with local communities. This will not only reduce the intensity of climate hazards like cyclones but enhance the quality of life through livelihood incentives and sequester a significant volume of carbon from the atmosphere in the long term.

Volunteers in Yamuna Khadar, Delhi using AI to spread awareness in their community. © SEEDS

Disaster preparedness workshop for the teachers of Mavelikkara Educational District, Alappuzha, Kerala. © ATREE

Community members maintaining the nursery along the coast. © VIKAS Centre for Development

Want to learn more about how climate risks are impacting India and the kinds of inclusive solutions we need? Explore Earth Exponential’s technical guide ‘Resilience’ on strategies for disaster risk reduction, preparedness, and response.


Interested in funding or learning more about inclusive climate projects like those above? Visit Earth Exponential’s projects.




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