Enhancing climate resilience impacts of India’s social protection programme

IIED is supporting the world’s largest works-based social protection scheme, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), to deliver climate resilience impacts for vulnerable rural communities in India.

Began 2017
Ritu Bharadwaj

Principal researcher (climate governance and finance team), Climate Change

Climate-resilient development
A programme of work showing how IIED is supporting governments, civil society and communities to achieve climate-resilient development outcomes for the most vulnerable people
Indian women working a rice field

Women in India working in a rice field. IIED is supporting the MGNREGS programme in its aim to enhance the climate and economic resilience of Indian rural households (Photo: Ritu Bharadwaj/IIED)

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) is India’s largest programme for social protection. It entitles every rural household with 100 days of guaranteed wage employment per year to meet consumption gaps during shocks.

This wage employment is used to create rural infrastructure for natural resource management and agricultural activities, with the aim to strengthen long-term livelihood strategies dependent on them. While the contribution of the scheme towards poverty reduction is well documented, climate change has emerged as a major threat and could reverse these development gains.

However, by integrating climate risk management into its provisions, social protection programmes such as MGNREGS can play an important role in helping rural households and local economies absorb the effects of climate risk, adapt to climate impacts and push their existing thresholds to transform their ability to address climate stresses and recover from them.

Without doing so, beneficiaries will probably register a decline in wellbeing when exposed to a combination of climate and socioeconomic shocks.

What is IIED doing?

IIED is supporting the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) of India to enhance the climate resilience impacts of MGNREGS, with support from the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) Infrastructure for Climate Resilient Growth by:

  • Helping the ministry to seek US$15 million of additional climate finance to pilot new approaches and tools to strengthen MGNREGS' contribution to the resilience of vulnerable rural households
  • Generate evidence and lessons through research to identify options for Indian policymakers to integrate climate risk management into MGNREGS to deliver shock-responsive wages and budgets, climate-resilient infrastructure, and support migration so that households can prepare, cope and recover from climate risks and respond to opportunities
  • Facilitate the co-development and institutionalisation of a climate information services tool (CRISP-M), and approaches and guidance to strengthen institutions and build capacity to use climate information in decision-making at community level, and
  • Provide evidence for global policymakers on how to integrate climate-risk management into social protection provision and address poverty in the context of climate change.

The CRISP-M tool was officially launched in October 2021: watch an animation explaining how it works below and on IIED's YouTube channel.

In October 2022 a collection of case studies was published alongside a short video detailing how individuals and communities have used the tool. Watch the video below or on IIED's YouTube channel.