Drought in India

A catastrophe in the news

Farmers in Marathwada, India, are suffering from the drought – yet again. SWISSAID is supplying the poorest with water and food rations. For the moment, thanks to this and to our awareness-raising work with the authorities, hundreds of women can breathe a sigh of relief. But the climate crisis calls for long-term solutions.

 

Facts

Country, region:
India, Marathwada
Duration:
May 2019 – December 2019
Beneficiaries:
44,000 children, women and men in 30 villages
Total project budget:
CHF 52,236

Aims

With this emergency aid campaign, SWISSAID is supporting the people in need with water supplies and food rations. This is to satisfy their basic needs. In addition, we are making the authorities aware of the intolerable situation of single women in particular.

“What I have seen is really sad.” Sneha Giridhari, SWISSAID’s Senior Programme Officer in India, visited the project area in Marathwada. In the remote villages everyday life is dominated by hunger and thirst: the farmers are suffering from the drought.

For the past seven years (except 2013), there has been a chronic rain shortage during the monsoon season from June to September. The last rainy season broke a miserable record: as much as 70 percent less rainfall – so little that many farmers were unable to sow their seeds at all and can therefore hardly expect a harvest.

A life and death struggle

The community wells in the Dalit villages – where people of the lowest caste live – have dried up. In the hope of getting some of the water given out by the government in larger towns, women and girls travel long distances in temperatures of around 40°C. Often in vain: they are usually too late, because they are not informed when the tankers arrive.

Crop failure and water shortages have brought farming activities to a standstill. In a region where 90 percent of the population depends on agriculture, this is a disaster. The sixth year of drought in seven years: many farming families get into debt and see no way out. Last year alone, 947 farmers from Marathwada took their own lives.

For the seven years (except 2013), there has been a chronic rain shortage during the monsoon season from June to September.

The excluded are left behind

Many young people have already migrated to the cities in search of money and work. Those who stay behind are living on emergency rations of rice and wheat from the government. Yet abandoned women, children, the elderly, those with a disability, day labourers – excluded people – cannot even count on this meagre help.

The support is tied to the biometric data records – and the corresponding machines often do not work. Furthermore, single women who are separated from their husband’s family and no longer live in their home village often have no documents at all – so they cannot benefit from the government food supplies.

Many young people migrate to the cities. Women, childrenand the edlerly are left behind.

Emergency aid for the poorest people

SWISSAID is running an emergency aid campaign to support those in need with water supplies and food rations until the worst is over. And making the authorities aware of the intolerable situation of single women in particular. Successfully: at emergency meetings, local government officials gave urgently needed approvals of ration cards for 123 single women, pensions for 299 women and housing programmes for 148 women. A first important step out of the crisis for many women – soon more in the Osmanabad region should benefit.

However, the climate crisis calls for more than “just” emergency aid – long-term solutions are needed. SWISSAID is therefore supporting farmers in India and other project countries where the population is already suffering greatly from the climate crisis, helping them adapt their agricultural production to the constantly changing climatic conditions.