Assessment of climate change vulnerability of Hakha Township, Chin State, Myanmar 2017–2050: Scenarios for resilience building

Originally published
View original



This assessment analyses the vulnerability of the ecosystem, infrastructure, and socio-economic conditions in Hakha Township located in Chin State, Myanmar in relation to present and projected climatic conditions. It concludes that the current vulnerability of Hakha Township is high, and with the predicted changes in climate, decision makers in Hakha Township will need to plan for increased flash floods and landslides, strong winds, increased temperature, and erratic rainfall with greater amounts of rain within a shorter monsoon season. Based on these findings, required actions for building resilience over the medium to long term are proposed in this report.

In 2017–18 the Myanmar Climate Change Alliance (MCCA), implemented by UN-Habitat and UN-Environment, in partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation and in collaboration with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), conducted a detailed climate change vulnerability assessment of Hakha Township, which is located in the mountainous China State of Myanmar. Chin State spans 36,019 km2 and is bordered by Sagaing Division and Magway Division to the east, Rakhine State to the south, Bangladesh to the south-west, and the Indian states of Mizoram to the west and Manipur to the north (Figure 1). The capital of the state is in Hakha and the population is approximately 478,801 as per the 2014 Census.

The present study analyses current vulnerability and predicts future vulnerability of Hakha Township by projecting future changes in climate for a period up to 2050. On this basis, scenarios that describe the potential impact of climate change and adaptation solutions to avoid the worst-case future scenario are proposed. These solutions have been compiled after several consultations with local communities and decision makers following a bottom-up approach. The study also describes the expected outcomes and results, and priority activities identified by communities during the course of the assessment. We use downscaled climate projections that were developed using ICIMOD datasets at a 10 x 10 km grid for predicting climate change impacts for the period up to 2050. The projections show an increase in temperature by as much as 1.7°C in 2050. Rainfall patterns are also predicted to change, with a possible increase in total annual rainfall by 150–300 mm and a shortening of the rainy season that will bring more frequent heavy rainfall events.

This will lead to an increase in flash floods and landslides that can damage infrastructure such as human settlements and basic facilities. Shortening of the rainy season, increasing surface runoff, and increased evaporation due to higher temperature in future climatic scenarios may intensify and multiply drought events, posing the threat of food and water scarcity and undermining development efforts.

The study demonstrates that Hakha Township is currently vulnerable to present climate conditions, and its vulnerability will increase greatly under future climate change scenarios. This is mainly due to the current socio-economic, infrastructure, and ecological system conditions, and the expected impacts of climate change on these systems.

Three Possible Adaptation Scenarios for the Period up to 2050

  1. In the Business as Usual (BAU) scenario, authorities and communities do not recognize the urgent need to address different aspects of vulnerability arising due to predicted climate change. Therefore, changes in climate may have an exponential effect on the Township, analyzed in this report under three systems – ecosystems, socio-economic, and infrastructure – ultimately affecting people’s livelihoods, health, and safety by 2050. In this scenario, insufficient knowledge of predicted climate change impacts and integration of such knowledge in planning negates mid- to long-term planning. Decisions are taken to respond to short-term needs such as excessive timber extraction for building houses, clearing of forests for shifting cultivation practices, constructing infrastructure in areas at high risk of disasters, or failing to construct resilient houses with storm-resistant techniques, etc. without considering the long-term consequences. Under this scenario, livelihoods, infrastructure, and environmental conditions will not allow people to improve living conditions in the township. In addition, projected changes in climate will interact with and exacerbate existing vulnerabilities, and new, unforeseen vulnerabilities may also emerge in the process.

  2. Resilience is built to maintain current living standards scenario, in which the township and communities recognize the urgent need to take action, but also recognize investment, time, economic, technical, and skill constraints. In this scenario, an adaptation plan is adopted, and activities that can be implemented without large investments are consistently undertaken, such as the protection of the environment, the strengthening of economic associations to create a more resilient and diversified livelihood and income, and the integration of measures for resilient infrastructure. Under this scenario, decisions on land use and town-planning would need to take into account current and projected climate risks, to prevent risk and vulnerability, e.g., choosing sites with low disaster risk for future infrastructure. In this scenario, the township and communities are able to plan their adaptation needs considering climate constraints, and communicate them to the districts, states and regions, NGOs, and development partners. This scenario is the minimum required to prevent increased vulnerability and to enable continued development.

  3. Resilience is built that enables economic and social development despite changes in climate by 2050, considering the different vulnerabilities of men and women. There is effective strategic planning, coordination and monitoring, and adequate time and resources are allocated – not only to maintain basic safety conditions but also to achieve sustainable development goals. Based on this assessment, the first of its kind in Hakha Township, planning work that follows is strategic, and guides township planning and budget expenditure to the district and other authorities. It requires investment from national authorities and international partners to achieve three main results: 1) a healthy ecosystem is maintained and enhanced to protect and provide ecosystem services for people; 2) a diversified, inclusive, and resilient economy is sustained to improve the economic conditions of the township; 3) resilient infrastructure and connectivity are set up to protect and enable people. In this scenario, efforts are sustained in an inclusive manner over a long period of time, and by a number of actors, but particularly the local and national government.


The purpose of this report is to help decision makers in Hakha Township, in Chin State, and at the national level understand risks related to climate change for the period up to 2050, plan accordingly, and channel investments to build resilience for both the short and long term.

To achieve this, the study focuses on the current vulnerability of Hakha Township in the following three sectors: ecosystem, infrastructure, and socio-economic conditions along with governance and administration mechanisms. The study predicts changes based on climate change projections for the period up to 2050, and anticipates further vulnerability of Hakha Township in the future.

On this basis, the report envisions future scenarios for the township affected by climate change, with downscaled climate projections under two different representative concentration pathways (RCPs) i.e. RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5 as per the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2015.

Finally, it provides recommendations for building the resilience of Hakha Township to avoid a severe future scenario. These are based on the results of a planning exercise conducted with communities and authorities in Chin State to prepare a local resilience and adaptation plan, with expected outcomes and results for resilience building, and prioritized activities identified and listed by communities during the course of the assessment.

The report draws on information that is readily available, such as disaggregated census data, or on information that is easy to obtain through desk review and consultations. The indicators chosen for the vulnerability index are simple and are available from the census data. Thus the study can serve as a baseline that can be easily updated at regular intervals as part of monitoring the resilience building actions and can also be easily replicated in other parts of Myanmar.