India: Climate proofing of watershed development

Integrating adaptation options into watershed development planning: Employing the climate proofing tool of GIZ

The Tool

Climate Proofing for Development is a methodological tool to incorporate the concerns surrounding climate variability and change into development planning. It enables planners and decision makers to identify risks posed by current and future climatic changes , to pinpoint opportunities resulting from climate change and to make use of co-benefits of resilience building measures.

Under the Indo-German project ‘Climate Change Adaptation in Rural Areas of India (CCA RAI)’, this tool was applied to the Watershed Development Programmes of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). Two pilot projects were conducted in the Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu, and the Udaipur district of Rajasthan.

Scope and Entry Points

The Watershed Development Programme involves soil and moisture conservation activities in a drainage basin or catchment area with the aim of improving the standard of living of the people by improving the environment. NABARD manages a vast watershed development portfolio, spread across various states of India .The Watershed Development Fund Programme (WDF) and the Indo-German Watershed Development Programme (IGWDP) are the two main programmes of NABARD which look at conservation, regeneration and judicious utilization of natural resources through incorporating soil and water conservation measures, crop management strategies and other farm and non-farm activities to develop community assets and resources for sustainable rural development.

NABARD requested GIZ to assist them in piloting climate proofing in two watersheds of the Dindigul district in Tamil Nadu under the WDF and two watersheds of the Udaipur district in Rajasthan under the IGWDP.

Through the application of the climate proofing tool, the impacts of climate change on soil, agriculture, forests, pastureland, livestock and communities within the four watersheds were studied. Following this analysis, treatment measures for implementation were identified which can increase the resilience of the watershed and build adaptive capacities of the communities. Where found necessary, typical watershed development measures were customized according to the climate change analysis and incorporated in the final implementation plan. Watersheds thus become resilient to current and future climatic changes.

How it works

This tool is participatory in nature and involves a combination of top-down and bottom-up approaches. The process can be broadly classified as follows:

  1.  Data collection: This involves collection of baseline and future climate information and socio-economic data of the watershed and local communities from primary and secondary sources.
  2.  Climate Analysis: Based on the climate data, actual or potential bio-physical and socio-economic impacts of climate change on the chosen unit of measurement (in this case the natural system of the watersheds and communities living within the watershed), are analyzed.
  3.  Identification and prioritization of adaptation options: Based on baseline climate conditions and projected climate scenarios, prioritized treatment measures and adaptation options are recommended for implementation.
  4.  Integration: With the involvement of community members from the watershed, NGOs, NABARD officers and concerned state departments the recommended options are reviewed and prioritized. Selected options are then integrated into the planning documents and implemented. Climate considerations thus become part of the entire development process.

Specifics of Application

  •  Stakeholders and institutional set-up

In order to integrate adaptation options into the watershed development programmes, NABARD took the lead in implementation, with the technical and financial support of experts from GIZ. Scientific experts from the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University and a private consultancy firm were responsible for climate and agriculture data collection and analysis. Community data collection, community mobilization and facilitation of the projects’ implementation in the field was carried out by the project implementing agencies which are generally NGOs.

  • Input

Besides the expertise of different stakeholders, effective application of this tool requires reliable weather data for baseline climate assessment and expertise to assess future climate projections.

  •  Output

The integration of the adaptation options is done employing the climate proofing table which helps in arriving at the recommended adaptation options by taking into consideration the exposure unit, climatic stress, non-climatic stresses, sensitivities and the existing adaptive capacities (see table).


Table: Climate proofing table. Source: GIZ (2012, p.31)

  • Capacity required and ease of use

An in-depth understanding of the change in the climatic components over the years, e.g. rainfall, temperature, as well as an understanding the development programme under review is a prerequisite for carrying out a climate proofing exercise. It also requires the ability to distinguish concrete adaptation activities from the business as usual development programmes. Expertise to work on climate models, and perform scientific data analysis is beneficial for scientifically sound adaptation recommendations.

Conclusions for future application

  •  Outcome and added value

The Climate proofing tool was used to identify and prioritize adaptation options and also to customize the treatment measures according to the climate change analysis. These recommended adaptation options have been integrated in the planning process of WDF and IGWDP programmes.

  •  Cost-benefit ratio

The climate change adaptation interventions which are additional to the normal watershed treatments are budgeted separately based on the concrete adaptation role. This will ensure that there is reduction in risk for the watershed development investments made by NABARD.

  • Potential for replication

Climate proofing for development (GTZ, 2010) is a tool which involves a generic sequential process which, with slight customization, can be applied to a variety of different schemes.

This, along with the required capacities makes it a highly potential tool for replication to mainstream adaptation into development planning. The possible next step of this intervention will be to mainstream integrate adaptation measures into the national watershed management programme of the Ministry of Rural Development.


  • GIZ, 2012. ‘Climate Proofing for Implementing Watershed Development Programmes in Appeampatti and Poosaripatti Watersheds Of Dindigul District’, Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

Available at:

  • Fröde, A., and Hahn, M., 2010. ‘Climate Proofing for Development: adapting to climate change, reducing risk’, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit GTZ), Eschborn.

Available at:

Resource person:

  • Ms. Anna Kalisch, Advisor, Project Climate Change Adaptation in Rural Areas of India (CCA RAI), GIZ.
  • Mr. Unnikrishnan Divakaran Nair, Senior Advisor, Umbrella Programme on Natural Resource Management (UPNRM), GIZ.
  • Ms. Saumya Mathur, Junior Project Officer, Natural Resource Management, GIZ.