Updated 20/07/23

IRD's activity in India is characterized by cross-cutting research activities focusing on two main themes: understanding long-term transformations of rural and urban areas, and the quantitative and qualitative water management and monitoring.

Understanding long-term transformations in rural and urban areas

This research topic is particularly targetting:

  • Access to basic services
  • Urban transformations
  • Demographic transitions
  • Multidimensional socio-economic disparities (including gender inequalities)
  • Socio-ecological transformations in the face of environmental change

The establishment of an Observatory of Rural Populations and Inequality Dynamics (ODRIIS) allows for the collection of first-hand data to study economic changes, and more specifically: debt, gender, social mobility and employment dynamics.

For more than ten years, IRD has also been collaborating with Indian researchers on the issue of urban challenges (housing, digital transition). This collaboration is based on the establishment of an Urban Team.


The issue of water and its implications in terms of ecology, agriculture, climate, natural disasters, food security

For more than 20 years, the Indo-French Cell for Water Science – IFCWS/CEFIRSE has been conducting integrated research in hydrology, geochemistry, agronomy, oceanography, pedology, remote sensing, climatology, etc. on the issue of water and soil in India.

Numerous projects in the human and social sciences (urban studies, economics, ethnography, archaeology) are also being developed on the issue of water management and access. Water is a crucial subject for both France and India, since both countries are concerned by recurring droughts in part of their territory.

Indian women farmers planting rice seedlings in the rice paddy field

© Umesh Negi

Agricultrices indiennes plantant des semis de riz dans une rizière

Main research projects

Water issues

For more than 20 years, IRD in India has been conducting research on the water issues and its implications in terms of ecology, agriculture, climate, natural disasters and food security.

  • HiDRATE (2023-2027)

    Current Earth Observation systems provide operational tools to derive areal evapotranspiration (ET) for drought monitoring and sustainable management of agricultural water. But partitioning ET into transpiration and evaporation is also key for targeting plant water use efficiency and plant water stress conditions at landscape scale. Transpiration and evaporation are estimated through land surface models (LSM) forced by visible/near infrared and thermal infrared (TIR) remote sensing data. However, water budget-based LSM face parameterization issues to constrain water limited transpiration and evaporation rates, while dual-source energy budget-based LSM forced by TIR observations provide separate estimates of transpiration and evaporation, but rely on specific assumptions to retrieve both components from a single composite surface temperature. Additional information is thus required, either specifically related to evaporation (Surface water content) or transpiration (Shortwave infrared SWIR).

    HiDRATE aims at determining how the existing and future (TRISHNA, LSTM) TIR observations can map transpiration and evaporation by synergistic use of RS observations of multiple wavelengths in conjunctions with LSMs of various complexities. This includes the directional RS signature in terms of soil and canopy cover fraction in the sensor field-of-view. The relevance of increasing modeling complexity or the number of remote sensing constraints in inferring transpiration and evaporation will be assessed using in-situ experiments at local scale including independent ET, Evaporation/Transpiration, transpiration and evaporation estimates based on eddy covariance, lysimeters, sap flow and stable isotope measurements for several biomes and climates.

    Drone campaigns will be organized to mimic the revisit cycle of the future satellites. HiDRATE builds on the complementarity of two groups who share expertise in TIR ET retrieval: on the French side, experts in Evaporation+Transpiration measurements/modeling, as well as soil moisture mapping from Sentinel-1; on the Luxembourg side, experts in airborne mapping as well as plant water stress assessment using SWIR.


    IRD research units involved:

    • UMR CESBIO (IRD, CNES, CNRS, INRAE, University of Paul Sabatier - Toulouse III)
    • UMR HSM (IRD, CNRS, IMT Mines-Ales, Montpellier University)

    Local partners: 

    Contact: Gilles Boulet

  • IRN SCaHyLab - Swot Calval for Hydrology Laboratory (2019-2023)

    The IRN SCaHyLab covers Brazil, Colombia, Congo, Niger, Madagascar, Guyana and India (IIT Mumbai and IIT Kharagpur). It is coordinated by Stéphane Calmant (IRD - LEGOS), IRD Representative in French Guiana formerly based in India. This IRN aims to study the water cycle using information from Earth observation satellites. The objective is to give the teams involved the opportunity to build their own network for a long term South-South and South-Intermediate collaboration and to share their expertise and skills.

    Water monitoring is a fundamental need of humanity. Today, satellites offer a complement to traditional in situ monitoring, which is rapidly and dramatically decreasing worldwide. For the past ten years, IRD has been collaborating with researchers from Southern countries to promote the study of the continental water cycle using information from space. Among the available technologies, satellite altimetry has been providing continuous monitoring of water levels since the mid-1990s. This technology is being dramatically improved with the launch of the CNES/NASA SWOT mission in October 2021, the largest Earth observation science project of these agencies for the decade. The mission requires an extensive calibration and validation program. On the French side, this task is assigned to IRD because of its historical expertise in hydrology and its ability to conduct projects in the tropical region.

    The fact that teams from the South are involved in the preparation of one of the most important scientific satellite missions is a major opportunity to increase their visibility in the scientific community, a great chance for their students and an occasion for the teams and laboratories to offer better services to their national water management institutions. IRD is the meeting point for these teams from the South, spread all over the world.


    IRD research unit involved: UMR LEGOS (IRD, CNES, CNRS, University of Paul Sabatier - Toulouse III)

    Local partners: IIT Mumbai, IIT Kharagpur

    Funding: IRD tool (IRN)

    Contact: Stéphane Calmant

  • IRN SPACE4SUST - Sustainability from space (2022-2026)

    The IRN Sustainability From Space - SPACE4SUST is led by two IRD researchers from UMR CESBIO (Lionel Jarlan and Sylvain Ferrant), with the participation of an IRD - CESBIO researcher (Gilles Boulet) on a long-term mission within CEFIRSE. In addition to CESBIO, this IRN includes 17 laboratories from 6 countries around the Mediterranean and the tropical zone, specialists and users of satellite tools in environmental science.

    Like the IRN SCaHyLab, the IRN Sustainability from Space focuses on water resources management and satellite observation. This IRN is also interested in soil resources, biodiversity and services provided by eco- and agro-systems, which are threatened by climate change and societal mutations. Remote sensing has become an essential tool for monitoring land surfaces and their interactions with society in order to contribute to a sustainable management of these environmental resources. The IRN aims to promote inter-regional scientific and technological exchanges around the remote sensing tool and associated methodologies applied to environmental monitoring.

    These methodological and scientific research efforts to take advantage of new resolutions and sensors enable quantitative monitoring of the impacts of human activities - deforestation, crop productivity and stress, water resources, natural ecosystem stress, urban heat islands - to contribute to sustainability science.


    IRD research unit involved: UMR CESBIO (IRD, CNES, CNRS, INRAE, University of Paul Sabatier - Toulouse III)

    Local partner: CEFIRSE - Indians Institute of Science (IISc, Bangalore)

    Funding: IRD tool (IRN)

    Contacts: Lionel Jarlan, Sylvain Ferrant

  • MANDU (2018-2024)

    MANDU is an interdisciplinary research program led by Anne Casile (IRD-PALOC) associating an ANR project and an archaeological mission financed by the MEAE and in collaboration with Supriya Varma (JNU). The researches associate various disciplines of environmental, human and social sciences, and focus on the relations and interactions between society and environment built around water in the long term, and on the impact of hydroclimatic variations and extremes during the late medieval and pre-modern period in the semi-arid region of Mandu (Madhya Pradesh). Preserved from recent urbanization, this region constitutes an ideal research laboratory to explore the history of vulnerabilities and adaptations of societies to hydroclimatic variations and risks, a subject at the heart of current concerns.


    IRD research unit involved: UMR PALOC (IRD, MNHN)

    Local partners:


    Contact: Anne Casile

  • NutriLift (2021-2026)

    The Nutrilift project « Deep roots versus deep pumps : Comparing deep nutrient uplift in dry tropical eco- and agro-systems », coordinated by Jean Riotte (IRD - GET; IRP CEFIRSE), focuses on understanding and quantifying the role of nutrient uplift in critical zone functioning, guided by the hypothesis that while in natural forests deep-rooted species can derive part of their nutrient resources from increased mineral alteration at depth, the relative importance of this process in agro-systems is much less, while agro-forestry systems represent an intermediate situation.

    The project implements a new methodological framework for the combined characterization of soil and root properties and the monitoring of solute and water dynamics from the surface to the deepest depths for 3 sites (forest, agroforestry and agriculture) under the M-TROPICS Observatory. The project will allow to better assess the resilience of ecosystems and to design more sustainable management practices in agrosystems.


    IRD research unit involved: UMR GET (IRD, CNES, CNRS, University of Paul Sabatier - Toulouse III, Midi-Pyrenees Observatory)

    Local partner: CEFIRSE - Indian Institute of Science (CEFIRSE - IISc, Bangalore)

    Funding: French National Research Agency (ANR) 


    Contact: Jean Riotte

  • SMARA (2022-2023)

    The objective of the SMARA project is to evaluate the potential of the very high spatial and temporal resolution of VENμS to characterize surface landscape properties related to agriculture and water resources in semi-arid and tropical agrosystems: agricultural practices, land use, surface water storage and soil surface moisture and water stress.

    The project is dedicated to two contrasting and complementary contexts characterized by high spatio-temporal variability of surface landscape properties: the Berambadi watershed in Karnataka (India) and the Merguellil floodplain near Kairouan and Lebna in Tunisia.

    On the Indian side, the SMARA project aims to characterize the following properties:

    • Analysis of reservoir silt applications in the watershed
    • Mapping and monitoring of irrigation
    • Mapping of land use
    • Monitoring of surface water storage dynamics
    • Temporal monitoring of evaporation or transpiration from stage 2 (moisture controlled stage) after stage 1 (climate controlled stage)

    Two IRD researchers are working on the project: Cécile Gomez (IRD - LISAH; IRP CEFIRSE) and Gilles Boulet (IRD - CESBIO; IRP CEFIRSE).


    IRD research units involved:

    • UMR CESBIO (IRD, CNES, CNRS, INRAE, University of Paul Sabatier - Toulouse III)
    • UMR LISAH (IRD, INRAE, Agro Montpellier Institute, MUSE Montpellier)

    Local partners:

    • ICAR - National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning (ICAR - NBSS & LUP, Bangalore)
    • Indian Institute of Science (IISc, Bangalore)

    Funding: French National Center for Space Study (CNES)

    Contact: Cécile Gomez

  • TRISHNA Ecosystem Stress (2021-2023)

    TRISHNA "Thermal infraRed Imaging Satellite for High-resolution Natural resource Assessment" is a space-time mission with high resolution in the thermal infrared jointly led by the French (CNES) and Indian (ISRO) space agencies for a launch planned in 2025.

    The scientific objectives guiding the mission are monitoring of water conditions and stress in continental ecosystems, coastal and inland water monitoring, urban environment, and applications to the solid Earth, cryosphere and atmosphere. TRISHNA will provide instantaneous midnight/day temperature, daily and evapotranspiration at less than 100m resolution every 2-3 days, with global coverage. An IRD researcher, Gilles Boulet (IRD - CESBIO; IRP CEFIRSE) assigned to CEFIRSE from September 2022, is leading the "ecosystem stress" working group on the French side, in charge of building the products, organizing the calibration/validation campaigns and accompanying the scientific activities upstream and downstream of the mission. He will be in charge of the joint development of these activities with the Indian partners, in particular for the "calibration/validation" and "upstream/downstream scientific activities" components.


    IRD research unit involved: UMR CESBIO (IRD, CNES, CNRS, INRAE, University of Paul Sabatier - Toulouse III)

    Local partners:

    Funding: French National Center for Space Study (CNES) - TOSCA calls for research projects

    Contact: Gilles Boulet

Rural and urban transformations

Understanding long-term transformations in rural and urban areas and, in particular, urban and socio-ecological transformations, demographic transitions, access to basic services and multidimensional socio-economic disparities are at the core of IRD's activity in India.

  • AniPharm (2019-2023)

    The AniPharm project "Sociology of the Pharmaceutical Uses of Animal Life in the Indian Ocean" analyzes the pharmaceutical uses of animal life from four case studies in the Indian Ocean. It hypothesizes that these uses reflect a logic of articulation of the field of life sciences with market institutions, captured by the notion of "biocapital". In India, the project focuses on poached pangolin scales.

    Anchored above all in social studies of science, the project mobilizes different research currents:

    • animal studies
    • the socio-anthropology of markets
    • studies of globalization "from below"
    • social studies of pharmacy


    IRD research unit involved: UMR CEPED (IRD, University of Paris)

    Local partners: Centre for Studies in Science Policy, Jawaharlal Nehru University (CSSP-JNU, New Delhi)

    Funding: French National Research Agency (ANR)

    Contact: Mathieu Quet

  • Connection between society and environment

    Romain Simenel has been conducting projects for several years focused on the relationship between society and environment from the perspective of otherness and learning, two pillars of cultural transmission. Comparative work is underway in two areas (Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu), on the use of Ayurvedic plants in Hindu rituals and the experience of sensitivity to plants in the religious context. This research could lead to a better understanding of ecological behavior in India. Several publications are being written and exploratory work is also being conducted in a new field (the Andaman Islands).


    IRD research unit involved: UMR PALOC (IRD, MNHN)

    Local partner: Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS, Delhi)

    Funding: French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD)

    Contact: Romain Simenel

  • Demography of inequalities (2020-2023)

    Christophe Z. Guilmoto is conducting several projects on the demography of inequalities within the framework of his assignment (2020 - 2023) at the Centre for Human Sciences (CSH, Delhi). He has notably worked on the demographic aspects of the COVID-19 crisis in India. An article An alternative estimation of the death toll of the Covid-19 pandemic in India was published in the journal PLos One and widely discussed in the Indian, French and foreign press: it is one of the only two peer-reviewed contributions on mortality measurement. An exploratory work on the theme of castes is also in progress.

    Demographic inequalities have been at the heart of IRD's research for several years. These inequalities are expressed in particular through fertility, mortality, health and housing. The objective is to understand how these inequalities are articulated with socio-economic disparities, social segmentation of castes and genders, and regional specificities of the country.



    IRD research unit involved: UMR CEPED (IRD, University of Paris)

    Local partner: Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH, Delhi)

    Funding: French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD)

    Contact: Christophe Z. Guilmoto

  • Global Smog (2022-2025)

    The Global Smog project is an international project which, for its Indian component, involves three IRD researchers (Mathieu Quet, Marie-Hélène Zérah and Jessica Pourraz). The aim of the project is to identify and explain the technical, social and political processes that influence air pollution management in cities of the South, and through this study to improve theoretical and practical knowledge on urban and multi-level public policy processes in the South.

    Working with the tools of sociology of science, urban geography, political anthropology and sociology of policy making, the project analyzes the technical processes that produce knowledge on air quality and health (monitoring, epidemiology, norms and standards for risk assessment) and their societal appropriation at the local level. To report on these processes, a comparison is made between ten African and Asian cities particularly impacted by air pollution, including Delhi, Hyderabad and Poona.


    IRD research unit involved:

    Local partner: Centre for Studies in Science Policy, Jawaharlal Nehru University (CSSP-JNU, New Delhi)

    Funding: French National Research Agency (ANR)


  • Greenmentality (2016-2021)

    The project Greenmentality "A Political Ecology of the Green Economy in the Global South" aims to analyze green governmentality and its local implications in the sectors of ecotourism, carbon forestry and climate-smart agriculture.

    It's a comparative India/East Africa project, with South-South cooperation. The India team, of which Sarah Benabou (IRD - PALOC) is a member, also includes Nitin Rai (ATREE, Bangalore), Lyla Mehta (Institute of Development Studies, Brighton UK) and Paul Robbins (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA).

    This project has been promoted in several workshops and international conferences, and, for the part on carbon forestry, by the publication of a special issue in the Journal of South Asian Development in early 2022. The preparation of review articles is underway to complete the project.



    IRD research unit involved: UMR PALOC (IRD, MNHN)

    Local partner: Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Bangalore

    Fundong: FRIPRO Toppforsk project, Research Council of Norway

    Contact: Sarah Benabou

  • IRN DiSAA - Digitization and Society in Asia and Africa (2019-2023)

    The DiSAA project aims to analyze the social transformations brought about by digital technology and the consequences of the increasing use of information technology in development policies in India, Nepal, South Africa and Kenya. Although digital technologies have attracted a great deal of interest from the social sciences in recent decades, they have been more rarely studied in developing countries. Yet, these technologies are agents of profound change and specific policy instruments in these contexts.

    A community of researchers in Science, Technology and Society (STS) therefore wishes to address the issue of digital change by analyzing the social transformations it brings and the consequences of the increasing use of information technologies in development policies in the South.

    The methodological approach is interdisciplinary, with a privileged role given to social studies on science and technology, which allow us to analyze the link between technical practices and knowledge on the one hand and their social stakes on the other. The conceptual approach is critical and insists on the dimension of "technological imperialism".

    The consortium adopts a thematic approach including the following themes

    • digital citizenship, with the Aadhaar identification project in India
    • digital money: the role of information technology in financial inclusion policies
    • digital inclusion: use of digital technologies in health, education and access to public services, such as their use in the universal health coverage project and by social protection services in India
    • smart cities and villages: the role of information technology, and in particular geo-mapping and participatory mapping, in the development of urban policies, such as smart cities in India


    IRD research unit involved: UMR CEPED (IRD, University of Paris)

    Local partners:

    Funding: IRD tool (IRN)

    Contact: Mathieu Quet

  • IRN Indian Pastoral Network - Pastoral-India (2019-2023)

    Pastoral systems are estimated to contribute directly or indirectly to the livelihoods of about 35 million people in India. Enabling food production in arid or semi-arid environments, sometimes marked by extreme variability in biophysical conditions, they are of great interest in terms of sustainability and food security. However, they haven't received much attention from the academic community.

    This IRN aims to fill this gap by creating a network of researchers and practitioners working specifically on this topic. Participants represent a range of expertise from social sciences (anthropology, development studies, history, economics) to ecological sciences (rangeland ecology, botany) and animal sciences (veterinarians and livestock specialists), aiming to understand contemporary developments in Indian pastoral systems from a variety of approaches. The network acts as a platform to:

    • Promote exchanges and cross-fertilization between the research teams involved
    • Coordinate the production of syntheses, large-scale analyses and datasets to document the current situation and trends of pastoral populations
    • Train students and build curricula at participating institutions through the development of courses and field schools

    The IRN also serves as a basis for proposal writing and fundraising.

    Since 2019, several workshops have been organized and funded by IRN, both on specific topics (conservation and pastoralism) or with a training focus (methods and concepts), allowing for the creation of a dynamic among a group of motivated students. The health crisis has caused a shift to online activities (seminars, reading groups); the year 2022 should see a resumption of face-to-face activities, including the organization of a conference.

    IRN has also served as a base for the development of new research initiatives, whether it be the setting up of research projects or more particularly the creation of the Forum for research on grasslands and pastoralism (FRGP), a platform offering funding to master and doctoral students working on pastoral systems/savanna ecosystem interactions in the Indian sub-continent. IRD is also a member of this platform.


    IRD research unit involved: UMR PALOC (IRD, MNHN)

    Local partners:

    Funding: IRD tool (IRN)

    Contact: Matthieu Salpeteur

  • LAKSMI (2016-)

    The LAKSMI program « LAbour, sKills, Social networks and Mobilities in India » is part of the activities of the Observatory of Rural Populations and Inequality Dynamics - ODRIIS, it aims to analyze the links between work, skills, social and migration dynamics, and social network formation in South India.

    A Covid-19 component has been added to study the impact of the epidemic on access to the labor market, particularly for migrant workers.


    IRD research unit involved: UMR LeDA (IRD, CNRS, Université Paris Dauphine)

    Local partner: French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP, Pondichéry)


    Contact: Christophe J. Nordman

  • MEET (2022-2024)

    The MEET project "The Secret Life of Landscapes: Memories of Ecosystems in Tension" aims to set up experimental devices exploring the visible or "hidden" dimensions of ecosystems, in a dialogue with what is known as environmental humanities. Combining fieldwork and reflection on the modalities of restitution and archiving, MEET explores the combination of innovative methods (bioacoustics) that renew our sensitive perception of the environment and landscapes, and the history of archives and environmental collections in India, placed in the colonial and postcolonial context of their creation.

    It focuses on contemporary modalities of restitution in and out of museum spaces, in order to highlight new forms of interpellation of the public around environmental memories. This project is resolutely interdisciplinary and brings together anthropologists, geographers, designers, curators and archivists.


    IRD research unit involved: UMR PALOC (IRD, MNHN)

    Local partners:

    Funding: LabEx - The Past in the Present: history, heritage, memory, French National Research Agency (ANR)

    Contact: Sarah Benabou

  • PastoDiv (2019-2023)

    The PastoDiv project "Pastoral practices and domestic animal diversity" brings together specialists from five Asian and African pastoral systems. The project aims at analyzing the dynamics of domestic animal diversity at several scales (from the herd to the local breed), starting from the study of herders' conceptions and practices.

    The project combines an emic perspective on domestic animal diversity, conceptual models that integrate social organization into the study of domestic animal diversity, and a formalized analysis of animal exchange and circulation through social network analysis. Data collection is done through fieldwork and uses qualitative methods (ethnography), ethnoscience and social network analysis. The results of the project will be discussed with specialists (in zootechnics and animal science, population genetics and livestock management...) and will be communicated to national and international institutions involved in livestock management and conservation of indigenous breeds, as well as to local NGOs working with livestock keepers.



    IRD research unit involved: UMR PALOC (IRD, MNHN)

    Local partner: Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Bangalore

    Funding: French National Research Agency (ANR)

    Contact: Matthieu Salpeteur

  • SMART CITIES (2020-2023)

    The Smart cities project "Governance in India through the lens of the so-called "100 Smart Cities" mission" is a research project that contributes to the consolidation of the work conducted by the Urban Team for the analysis of the Indian urban transition. In the wake of the global craze for so-called smart cities, the Indian government launched a program in 2015 to transform a hundred of its cities into Smart Cities.

    This program embodies a digital turnaround, with the implementation of so-called "smart" technological solutions to improve the quality of life for all. It imposes obligations in terms of project management that raise new research questions.

    A first set of questions concerns the restructuring of governance structures with the creation of mixed urban management companies that reshape power relations with municipalities and may redefine the principles of decentralization. A second line of work concerns the consultation processes implemented by the cities and the more or less inclusive nature of the projects selected. Does the widespread use of consulting firms consolidate the rise of urban consultocracy? The methodology combines an analysis on a national scale (database, qualitative interviews) and field research in three cities.


    IRD research unit involved: UMR CESSMA (IRD, INALCO, University of Paris)

    Local partners:

    Funding: AFD

    Contact: Marie-Hélène Zérah

  • Subaltern urbanism and citizenship through the lens of urban renewal in Indian metropolises

    The objective of this project, led by the Urban Team, is to deepen knowledge on the impact of policies on slums and on the socio-spatial restructuring of Indian metropolises, with a focus on the processes of exclusion affecting the poor. For this purpose, the research aims at analyzing the conditions of implementation of urban renewal operations based on case studies, as well as the analysis of the forms of mobilization and participation of the inhabitants in reaction to the urban planning interventions that target them.

    The program ultimately aims to evaluate the consequences of urban renewal operations for the affected populations. The current investigations are based on field surveys in Delhi, including several series of in-depth interviews with the various actors involved.


    IRD research unit involved: UMR CESSMA (IRD, INALCO, University of Paris)

    Local partner: Center for Policy Research (CPR, New Delhi)

    Funding: French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD)

    Contact : Véronique Dupont

Other projects

  • IRN WIN - Worldwide Insecticide resistance Network (2018 - 2023)

    Initiated in March 2016, the WIN network was formed under the impetus of IRD and CNRS. It is the first international network for monitoring the resistance of mosquito vectors of arboviroses to insecticides. The main objective is to monitor and combat the resistance of mosquito vectors of arboviroses to insecticides. Specific objectives are to:

    • Establish a global surveillance system for resistance in mosquito vectors of arboviroses
    • Identify research gaps and priorities in vector control and resistance management
    • Guide WHO and public health agencies in making decisions on resistance management and mosquito control

    WIN's mission is to support research by mobilizing dedicated funds for research projects conducted jointly by network member institutes.

    The priority themes are the characterization of genetic mechanisms of resistance, the development of diagnostic tests and predictive models of mosquito dispersion and resistance, and the study of the operational impact of resistance. The network also aims to promote innovative control strategies to eliminate resistant mosquitoes and to bring together the scientific community by organizing, every two years, an international conference on resistance and control strategies of arbovirosis vectors. Finally, the network aims to organize and facilitate training workshops for public health actors, in order to build capacity in medical entomology.

    The network has established a global reference database allowing each country to know the situation of resistance at the local level, and thus to guide the strategies to be implemented to face resistant mosquitoes.


    IRD research unit involved: UMR MIVEGEC (IRD, CNRS, University of Montpellier)

    Local partner: National Institute of Malaria Research (NIMR)

    Funding: IRD tool (IRN)

    Contact: Vincent Corbel

  • JEAI POWO - Political Work (2023 - 2025)

    Access to rights, social programs and public policies is a constant challenge, first and foremost for the poorest. Citizens spend considerable time and energy looking for the right information, filling out documents, negotiating, petitioning, organizing demonstrations and so forth.

    These are repetitive, time-consuming tasks that require specific skills and therefore represent a true form of work, mainly (but not only) performed by women. It’s a political work because it supposes a permanent struggle, shapes the State-citizen relations and conditions State accountability.

    The project aims at testing the relevance of the concept "political work", defining and conceptualizing it in relation to issues of democracy, inequalities and skills, hile exploring its policy implications.

    This team will draw on the Indian case, where the team has accumulated a vast body of empirical material in various regions and sectors, while testing the applicability of the concept outside India. Mixing academic and nonacademic partners, the team will combine various registers of knowledge and disciplines (within social sciences).

    In the same way that feminist research has reframed our understanding of the economy and modes of accumulation through concepts of domestic work and social reproduction, the concept of political work aims to revisit our understanding of the state, public action and the politics of the poor.


    IRD research unit involved: UMR CESSMA (IRD, INALCO, University of Paris)

    Local partner: Jindal Global University

    Funding: IRD tool (JEAI)

    Contact: Isabelle Guérin


View of Mumbai skyline over slums in Bandra suburb

© Dimitry Rukhlenko

Vue sur les bidonvilles de la banlieue de Bandra, Mumbai

Building long-term research

IRD researchers in India have developed original mechanisms (long-term collaborative programs, observatories, winter school) to support long-term research projects and build new partnerships.


The Urban Team

The Urban Team was set up in the framework of an ongoing partnership with the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) and under the impetus of two IRD researchers: Véronique Dupont and Marie-Hélène Zérah (CESSMA). The team's implementation was based on two main mechanisms:

  • the development of a collaborative research program entitled "Urbanization, Citizenship and Urban Services" formalized by an agreement between the IRD (for CESSMA) and the CPR (2014 - 2023)
  • the constitution of a Young Team associated with the IRD carried by the CPR, the JEAI IND_URBBS "Urban Rural Boundaries and Basic Services" (2015 - 2018), which was crucial for the structuring of a Franco-Indian urban research team

The formalization of this collaboration is the result of prior and sustained scientific exchanges:

  • Véronique Dupont's work on Delhi, whose orientations were close to a project conducted at the CPR on precarious housing neighborhoods
  • The ANR project on subaltern urbanization coordinated by Marie-Hélène Zérah (with E. Denis) in which three CPR researchers participated
  • The creation in 2010 by M-H Zérah and P. Mukhopadhyay of the CPR of a monthly seminar on urban issues

This monthly seminar on urban issues, which has been held every month since then, is a space for debate on the city that brings together a wide audience (researchers, students, urban planning professionals, decision-makers, etc.). It has welcomed renowned Indian researchers, young Indian and foreign researchers, foreign researchers working on India or on other geographical areas as well as planning professionals. The creation of such spaces for dialogue is essential for advancing the conversations between research, policy and social movements.

The team is composed of:

  • two IRD-CESSMA researchers, Véronique Dupont and Marie-Hélène Zérah
  • four Indian researchers from the CPR: Partha Mukhopadhyay (senior fellow, coordinator of the urbanization program at the CPR, scientific leader of the project for the CPR, and head of the JEAI IND-URBBS), Mukta Naik (fellow), Kanhu Charan Pradhan (senior researcher), Shamindra Nath Roy (senior researcher)
  • occasional collaborators and a team of Indian PhD students, whose composition varies according to the projects


The collaboration started in 2014 through the scientific program "Urbanization, Citizenship and Urban Services", in a context of urban transition in India. This program aims at a long-term collaboration based on the common commitment of these institutions in understanding the processes of urban transition in India.

Four main research themes are developed around:

  • A subaltern urban transition localized in cities of less than 10,000 inhabitants and urbanized villages
  • A reflection on subaltern urbanism in the informal districts of large cities around the issues of urban citizenship and socio-spatial dynamics
  • The transversal question of urban services
  • The program on urban governance through the prism of the Smart Cities mission

One of the major achievements of this collaboration was the constitution of the JEAI IND_URBBS (2015 - 2018), a young IRD / CPR associated research team working on related urban issues (urban and rural boundaries and basic services). IND_URBBS aimed to understand the nature of urban transition in India around three research questions and their interrelationships:

  1. Understanding the pattern and nature of Indian urbanization
  2. The reshaping of urban citizenship, particularly in metropolitan cities and their regions
  3. Changes in urban service delivery mechanisms in both small and large cities, thus assessing differences in public policies according to the type of urban settlement

In this project, three types of urban spaces were studied: census towns and small cities (as a new urban border), peripheries (borders of metropolises) and informal settlements (borders in access to services and citizenship). Access to basic services is a common theme in all these categories. Two other institutions participated in this JEAI: Burdhaman University in West Bengal and the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research in Mumbai.

Finally, two major projects are currently underway under the collaborative agreement, each of which explores one of the themes mentioned above:

  • In 2020, an AFD-funded project on urban governance in India through the prism of the Smart Cities Mission (Mission Smart Cities, led by IRD researcher Marie-Hélène Zérah with the support of an ARTS doctoral student) reinforced the research work on the theme of smart cities
  • The project Subaltern urbanism and citizenship in the context of urban renewal in Indian metropolises (led by IRD researcher Véronique Dupont and financed by IRD, with the logistical support of the CPR), which reinforces the research work on subaltern urbanism


These research projects, supported by the collaborative program, have made it possible to set up a CPR/IRD research team on a permanent basis. The activity of this team will continue to expand over the next few years, notably with the development of comparative perspectives on urban themes between India and other countries of the South, based on the strengthening of links with other CESSMA researchers working in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Central and South America.

Old Tamil lady wearing typical south indian dress and standing on bank of kaveri river, inside forest

© Saptarsi

Vieille dame tamoule sur les berges de la rivière Kaveri

The observatories

IRD is involved in the development of two observatories in India, the CZO M-TROPICS (which collects meteorological and hydrological data in the tropics) and ODRIIS (the Observatory Of Rural Populations and Inequality Dynamics in South India). These two observatories are intended to collect data that can then be used for local or international projects.


Critical Zone Observatory Multiscale Catchments – CZO M-TROPICS

The M-TROPICS CZO at the global level

CZO M-TROPICS provides the international scientific community with decadal time series of meteorological, hydrological, geochemical and ecological variables in the tropics from the following sites: Maddur and Mule Hole (India), Nyong (Cameroon), Houay Pano (Laos) and Dong Cao (Vietnam). The M-TROPICS CZO includes academic and government partners in each of these areas.

The M-TROPICS CZO was formed in 2016 from the merger of two pre-existing observatories, the Environmental Observatory Tropical Experimental Watersheds - SO BVET (Cameroon, since 1994; India since 2003) and the Management of Soil Erosion Consortium - MSEC (Laos and Vietnam, since 1998). The M-TROPICS CZO is a National Observation Service accredited by a multi-tutorial committee, led by INSU and with the participation of IRD. The observatory has just been evaluated and will be supported for the next five years. It is integrated into the OZCAR research infrastructure.

The datasets of the observatory are published in open access on its website: https://mtropics.obs-mip.fr/catalogue-m-tropics/


The M-TROPICS CZO in India

The institute includes two IRD researchers (Jean Riotte, Laurent Ruiz) and one VIA (Justin Louis). The observatory is supported by the Indian Institute of Science - IISc Bangalore.

The activity at the Indian level involves monitoring the sub-humid tropical watersheds of Mule Hole (4.3 km2, deciduous forest) and Maddur (7.1 km2), half deciduous forest - half crops) which belong to the Kabini River Basin (South India), in order to monitor the effects of land use (agriculture) and climate change on water and biogeochemical budgets under dry tropical conditions. Since 2012, the Maddur SEW monitoring has been extended to the Berambadi watershed (84 km2), a more appropriate scale to combine land use practices/changes with remote sensing data, and to involve social sciences.

  • The projects conducted in India within the framework of the M-TROPICS CZO
    • 2021-2024 ANR PRC NUTRILIFT (Jean Riotte) : Deep roots versus deep pumps: quantifying deep nutrient uplift in dry tropical eco- and agro-systems
    • 2020-2021 INSU-EC2CO ERODE (Jean Riotte) : Effect of ROoting DEpth on deep Critical Zone dynamics: Mule Hole, India
    • 2019-2020 ÉQUIPEX CRITEX call for proposals (Jean Riotte, Henri Robain, Laurent Ruiz) Spatial heterogeneity of regolith properties using combined geophysical and geochemical approaches for the modelling of an irrigated catchment.
    • 2018-2022 PCRA IAEA (Muddu Sekhar, Laurent Ruiz): Multiple Isotope Fingerprints to Identify Sources and Transport of pesticides in the tropics
    • 2018-2020 CEFIPRA (French-Indian) NUNDERGROUND (Damien Cardinal, VVSS Sharma) : Subsurface Nutrient Transfers in India
    • 2017-2021 ANR ATCHA (Laurent Ruiz): Accompanying The adaptation of irrigated agriculture to climate CHAnge
    • 2017-19 CNES TOSCA (Samuel Corgne): Detection & characterization of irrigated crops from satellite images: Berambadi experimental watershed in India
    • 2015-2017 ISRO STC (Muddu Sekhar) : Modeling of evapotranspiration from remote sensing
    • 2014-2019 KWD World Bank SUJALA (Muddu Sekhar) : 5 years Integrated hydrological assessment, monitoring and documentation project
    • 2014-2017 ISRO STC PRACRITI-II (Muddu Sekhar) : Development of a coupled distributed groundwater model to assimilate RS data
    • 2014-2015 INSU-EC2CO MACROFLUX (India and Cameroon) (Pascal Jouquet) Influence of MACROfauna on chemical element FLUX and water infiltration in tropical soils. Case of termite mounds produced in the Mule Hole (India) and Nsimi (Cameroon) watersheds.
    • 2013-2016 CEFIPRA (French-Indian) AICHA (India) (Laurent Ruiz, Muddu Sekhar): Adaptation of irrigated agriculture to climate change
    • 2013-2015 ISRO STC (Muddu Sekhar): Estimation of soil hydraulic properties in a catchment using agro-hydrological models and microwave remote sensing
    • 2013-2014 INSU-EC2CO TRIBOLI (Jérôme Gaillardet): Isotopic tracing of the critical zone by BOre and Lithium isotopes
    • 2013-2014 INSU LEFE/MANU (Samuel Buis): Spatialized estimation of soil water properties by inversion of a crop model and use of remote sensing data
    • 2013-2014 INRA Metaprogram ACCAF AICHA2 (A. Thomas, Laurent Ruiz): Adaptation of Irrigated Agriculture to Climate Change
    • 2012-2013 INSU-EC2CO BIOSITE (Stéphane Audry) : Biogeochemical cycling of silica in tropical Environment
    • 2010-2011 INSU-EC2CO (Jean Riotte): Reconstitution of the Holocene climate in South India
    • 2009 BQR SVT Univ. Paul Sabatier (Stéphane Audry) : Biogenic silica cycle and its influence on the transport of dissolved silica in a tropical watershed
    • 2003-2004 and 2006-2007 INSU ECCO & EC2CO (Jean-Jacques Braun, Jean Riotte): Integrated study of the Kabini river basin (South India): influence of environmental factors on fractionation processes and hydro-biogeochemical transfers

Observatory of rural populations and dynamics of inequalities - ODRIIS

The Observatory of rural populations and dynamics of inequalities - ODRIIS analyzes how structural changes in contemporary South India are reshaping the organization of work, social hierarchies and household livelihoods, in a context of sharply contrasting dynamics (consumer credit market boom, reconfiguration of social structures, etc.). The observatory aims not only to study socio-economic changes, but also to participate in the theoretical renewal of the concepts of work, networks, skills, debt and financialization.

ODRIIS constitutes a platform for data collection, both in terms of the number of households involved (in 2021: 600 households, for a total of 3,000 individuals spread over 10 villages), but also in terms of the regularity of the collection cycles (every 5 years). ODRIIS combines individual/household scales and uses qualitative/quantitative data collection tools, which include: financial diaries, village monographs, life histories, video documentaries, and the NEEMSIS survey (quantitative household/individual panel data collection). The Observatory is managed locally by one VI, Arnaud Natal.


ODRIIS is funded by the French Institute of Pondicherry (where it is hosted), the UMR LEDa, the CESSMA and the IRD. ODRIIS is managed by Isabelle Guérin and Christophe Jalil Nordman, supported by a VIA in charge of the communication and part of the data processing, as well as a PhD student (Cécile Mouchel, CESSMA).


ODRIIS was born from the intersection of two interdependent social science programs, each coordinated by an IRD researcher:

  • Work, finances & Social Dynamics (2003 - present): this project, coordinated by Isabelle Guérin, focuses on financial practices and debt in South India;
  • LAKSMI - LAbour, Skills, Social networks and Mobility in India (2016 - present): this project, coordinated by Christophe Jalil Nordman, focuses on the analysis of the link between work, skills and migration dynamics, as well as the formation of social networks in India

Future developments

Next wave and panel expansion: the last wave of data collection was conducted in 2021. The observatory therefore now includes three time points: 2010, 2016-2017 and 2020-2021. ODRIIS regularly expands its panel: in 2021, the panel included 3,000 individuals; the next wave should include even more individuals.

Exploitation of data and methods: the primary objective of ODRIIS is not only to provide quality data, but also methods that can be reused by other researchers. In order to support the activity of the observatory and to give it more visibility among researchers (IRD or others) who might be interested in the data and tools developed within it, a VIA has been recruited and a Hypotheses notebook is regularly updated : https://odriis.hypotheses.org/.