Tuesday, 11 February 2003: 4:15 PM
Climate and Rural Poverty (Formerly paper 5.2)
Satellite derived climate information and socio-economic data are used to identify relationships between climate and rural poverty, specifically the economic responses to climate conditions in regions that are predominantly agrarian. We have investigated these relationships over two large developing countries, Brazil and India, which have a broad spectrum of climate regimes, significant agricultural dependence, and high levels of poverty. The majority of the rural poor in developing countries depend on subsistence agriculture, and their economic well-being is significantly influenced by climate, since it overwhelmingly influences the cropping patterns, agricultural productivity, prices and ultimately the economic status of the rural population. Findings from the study demonstrate the correspondence of climate factors (such as availability of surface moisture) to crop yields and the mean income in an area. Statistical results identify which climatic factors have the strongest correspondence to the economic data, and we postulate why certain relationship exists. The climate products of surface wetness and land surface temperature are provided by the Special Sensor Microwave Imagers (SSMI), which have been observing the earth's surface since 1987. This 15 year record serves as the climatology of land surface wetness and temperature at 1/3 degree resolution. Similarly, an 18 year record of the Vegetation Health index (derived from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer) is used to monitor the growing conditions of crops in each district. Monthly standard deviations of these climatic products are calculated for each district, and these values are used to investigate if spatial and temporal variability of climatic conditions correspond to the economic status in rural sectors. Findings provide insight into which areas experience greater year-to-year variability, and the economic costs of higher climatic variability, such as the impact of droughts and floods. The World Bank, sponsor of this study, aims to quantify the economic impact of climate on rural livelihoods and poverty, and potentially use the findings in enhancing the effectiveness of poverty reduction strategies currently being developed for more than 40 countries.
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