Journal Article

A review on extreme weather events and livelihood in Odisha, India

Over the years extreme weather events have been catastrophic and continue to have overwhelming impacts globally, mainly due to climate change. However, the impacts of extreme weather events have been uneven and devastating in developing countries largely because of lack of resources, weak adaptive capacity and large dependency on climate sensitive livelihoods. Odisha on the eastern coast of India is one of the most disaster-prone states in India with a regular prevalence of extreme events like cyclones, droughts, floods and heat waves. The state’s livelihood is mainly based on weather patterns directly (farming, fisheries) or indirectly (non-farm wage labour, dairy farming) are at stake due to the frequent occurrence of extreme weather events. However, there are very limited studies available which describe the situation, impacts and resilience of extreme weather events in the context of livelihood in the state. The present study is an attempt in this direction to review and examine the impact of extreme weather events (e.g., cyclone, flood, drought and heat wave) on the livelihood of the population in Odisha. In addition, the study examines the resilience shown by the people and the program and policy adopted by the government on the extreme weather events in the state. The study findings highlight that extreme weather events have affected populations at large, caused substantial economic losses and exerted a disproportionate effect on the vulnerable social groups such as sharecroppers, small and marginal farmers, backward communities, landless labourers, wage labourers, rickshaw pullers and vendors as the nature of work in which they are engaged is susceptible to the effects of extreme weather events. Heat waves, droughts, floods and cyclones are the important extreme weather events that hamper the livelihoods in Odisha. Frequent occurrence of events has caused a blow to the livelihood resilience of the poor and marginalized people. While immediate coping mechanisms at the local level do provide some relief to the people, but the ability of people to adapt to these disasters is severely affected by the increased frequency of these disasters and there is a dire need to focus towards more sustainable and long-term livelihood solutions.