India

ACT Alert India Bundelkhand Region 11/2008: Drought and severe food shortages

Format
Situation Report
Source
Posted
Originally published
Geneva, 05 February 2008

The Bundelkhand region, occupying 70,000 square kilometers of the central plains of India (bridging northern Madhya Pradesh and southern Uttar Pradesh states) has been declared as "drought-affected" by the Indian state government. Severe water shortages, high levels of debt amongst the population and heavy dependency on labour migration is threatening the survival of some villages in the region. Indiscriminate felling of trees, over exploitation of groundwater, excessive chemical fertilizer use, and scanty rainfall are contributing to this extended four to five year drought. Population and livestock pressures have only aggravated the problem.

As reported by Church's Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA)- a member of the global alliance Action by Churches Together (ACT) International- the past five years have seen significant changes in weather patterns, which have adversely affected farmers and farming, including decreased annual rainfall and increasing incidence of hail, frost and storms. Crops have been seriously and increasingly damaged causing extreme distress to people, with this year expected to be worse still as the drought has been severe. Crop failure and debt has driven more than 400 farmers to commit suicide in the seven districts within Uttar Pradesh. Over the last year, many families have locked up their homes and migrated in search of paid labour elsewhere in order to survive, most w05orking in hazardous and exploitative conditions. Hunger and malnutrition exists on a massive scale, with the overwhelming majority living on one meal a day of staple cereal with salt and chutney. Shortages of clean water are already a problem in some villages and a serious water crisis is likely this summer. Fodder prices have also been increasing rapidly making it difficult for poor farmers to support livestock. Agricultural irrigation is a pressing need. However, tanks have been encroached upon or neglected and the canal network needs cleaning and repairs. The water table has plummeted to 450 feet and even lower in some places.

CASA is closely monitoring the situation in the area as the acute drought situation is expected to worsen. CASA is sending a team to do a rapid assessment in collaboration with their local partner organizations, which are located in the drought-affected areas. The aim is to develop an appropriate plan of action. CASA has indicated that this situation is likely to warrant an ACT Appeal in the near future.

Any funding indication or pledge should be communicated to Jessie Kgoroeadira, ACT Finance Officer (jkg@act-intl.org).

Thank you for your attention.

For further information please contact:

ACT Director, John Nduna (phone +41 22 791 6033 or mobile phone + 41 79 203 6055) or

ACT Program Officer, Michelle Yonetani (phone +41 22 791 6035 or mobile phone +41 79 285 2916)

ACT is a global alliance of churches and related agencies working to save lives and support communities in emergencies worldwide.

The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.

ACT Web Site address: http://www.act-intl.org