India

ACT Appeal India: Assistance to drought victims ASIN-24

Format
Appeal
Source
Posted
Originally published

Attachments

Appeal Target: US$ 4,957,856
Balance Requested from ACT Network: US$ 4,860,296

Geneva, 14 October 2002

Dear Colleagues,

While two states, Assam and Bihar, are still recovering from severe flooding, the country is now also experiencing a severe drought situation and of India's 593 districts, 321 in 12 states have seen little or no rainfall during this monsoon season. The deficiency in rainfall is close to the 100-years' record figure - 48 percent in the month of July in 2002. The states worst hit by scanty and deficient rainfall have officially been declared drought-affected. These states are Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Orissa, Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh and parts of Tamil Nadu.

The ACT members, Church's Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA), Lutheran World Service India (LWS-I) and the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India (UELCI) wish to respond to this emergency situation in their respective working areas. After consultations amongst the three partners taking into consideration each member's operational areas CASA prepared a proposal for Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu; LWS India for Orissa and UELCI for one district within Orissa.

The appeal proposals comprise the following components:

  • Food for Work
  • Water & Sanitation
  • Water Harvesting & Irrigation
  • Health & Hygiene
  • Agricultural Inputs - seeds, fodder, manure, etc
  • Capacity Building - workshops, Sphere
Project Completion Date:

CASA - 31 July 2003
LWS-I - 28 February 2003
UELCI - 30 September 2003

Summary of Appeal Targets, Pledges/Contributions Received and Balance Requested

CASA
LWS-I
UELCI
Total US$
Total Appeal Target/s
2,763,043
1,415,552
779,261
4,957,856
Less: Pledges/Contr. Recd
97,560
97,560
Balance Requested from ACT Network
2,763,043
1,415,552
681,701
4,860,296

Please kindly send your contributions to the following ACT bank account:

Account Number - 240-432629.60A (USD)
Account Name: ACT - Action by Churches Together
UBS SA
PO Box 2600
1211 Geneva 2
SWITZERLAND

Please also inform the Finance Officer Jessie Kgoroeadira (direct tel. +4122/791.60.38, e-mail address jkg@act-intl.org) of all pledges/contributions and transfers, including funds sent direct to the implementers, now that the Pledge Form is no longer attached to the Appeal.

We would appreciate being informed of any intent to submit applications for EU, USAID and/or other back donor funding and the subsequent results. We thank you in advance for your kind cooperation.

For further information please contact:

ACT Director, Thor-Arne Prois (phone +41 22 791 6033 or mobile phone + 41 79 203 6055) or
ACT Appeals Officer, Mieke Weeda (phone +41 22 791 6035 or mobile phone +41 79 285 2916)

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


Ms. Geneviève Jacques Thor-Arne Prois Robert Granke
Director Director, ACT Director
WCC/Cluster on Relations WF/World Service

GENERAL BACKGROUND DESCRIPTION

Background

While two States, Assam and Bihar, are still recovering from severe flooding, the country is now also experiencing a severe drought situation and of India's 593 districts, 321 in 12 states have seen little or no rainfall during this monsoon season. The experts are already calling it the worst monsoon in recent memory. The south-west Indian monsoon which runs from June to September, was 19 % below normal, resulting in drought-like conditions in 29 % of the country. The deficiency in rainfall is close to the 100-years' record figure - 48 percent in the month of July in 2002. The states worst hit by scanty and deficient rainfall have officially been declared drought-affected. These states are Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Orissa, Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh and parts of Tamil Nadu.

Monitoring of rainfall takes place in 524 districts and according to the Indian Meteorological Department report for July, this year 355 districts (68%) have received deficient or scanty rainfall. The country's 70 major water reservoirs were holding only 48% the normal water quantities, and 17 key reservoirs held only 18% of their full capacity.

Due to shortage of rainfall the under-ground water level has receded drastically and open wells as well as bore-wells in many states have gone dry. This has been exacerbated by over exploitation of ground water through tube wells, bore wells for agriculture and industrial use.

Current situation

The failure of the monsoon is the most widespread and the magnitude worse than in 1987. Some of the states have recorded 80-90 per cent deficient rainfall while Rajasthan had zero rainfall during July. Orissa recorded the lowest rainfall of 140.14 mm which is 60 percent less than the average rainfall of 351 mm in July. This is the lowest rainfall in the state recorded during the last 40 years. Consequently, nearly two-thirds of the monsoon crop of paddy, coarse grains like bajra, soya, maize, pulses, and vegetables is at risk. The drop in output could be upwards of 10 million tons and nearly 150 million casual agriculture labourers face severe food shortages, which will lead to malnutrition because there is no work for them to earn their daily income.

People are experiencing severe disruption to their normal lifestyles and to their environment and migration, over and above the normal seasonal migration, have started taking place.

The ACT members, CASA, LWS India and UELCI, wish to respond to this emergency situation in their respective working areas. After consultations amongst the three partners CASA prepared a proposal for Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu; LWS India for Orissa and UELCI for one district within Orissa.

Orissa

After the Super Cyclone in 1999, severe drought in 2000 and unprecedented Floods in 2001; Orissa State is experiencing another severe drought this year. Long monsoon breaks, continuous dry spells and sporadic rainfall has badly affected the Kharif (autumn and winter) crops. All the 30 districts of the state have been affected damaging around 70% of crops and affecting nearly 35 million people. The Government of Orissa has already declared 283 Blocks out of total 314 Blocks as drought-hit.

The government estimates the crop loss due to deficient rainfall at USD 360 million. Altogether about 60% of the total crop areas could not be covered during the current year and according to the state Agriculture Department, nearly 70 per cent of the paddy crop has been damaged. Other crops such as pulses, groundnut, cotton, oilseeds, vegetables are also seriously affected in these districts as the monsoon continued to play truant in the current year.

The monsoons failed in the month of July which is the most critical month for agriculture operations in India. During the second half of August there were some rains but it was too late and too little to save the crops. However, these rains have somewhat eased the drinking water and fodder crises.

Impact on Human Lives

More than 66 % of the total rural families (6,784,130) in the state live below the poverty line. This includes ~ 1,417,500 marginal farmers and 1,689,750 landless agriculture workers living in the rural areas. Failure of monsoon and consequent failure of crops and loss of employment opportunities has severely strained the coping mechanisms of these rural population groups. These groups do not have access to work and therefore face severe food insecurity. Labour contractors representing business interests in other states and regions have begun to make a beeline to the distressed villages offering advance payment in return for work at below the normal wages. This will bind the people in a vicious cycle of debt apart from other forms of exploitation, particularly of the women and the female children. Large-scale migration to other states has begun, disrupting social and economic life of the communities. According to local press releases about 8 - 10% of the total population from the drought hit districts have left for neighbouring districts or other states to earn their livelihood. Distress sale of cattle, other small animals and poultry are being reported from all the districts particularly from Kalahandi, Nuapada, Bolangir and Suabarnapur. Depletion of all capital and reserves as well as liquidation of assets for survival now points towards the beginning of yet another debt trap- they will have to borrow to invest in the fields in the coming cropping season also.

Officially no deaths have been reported but there are unconfirmed reports of starvation cases in this region.

Description of Damages

In Orissa, about 5.8 million hectares of land are cultivated during the monsoon season. Of this rice is cultivated on 4.2 million hectares of land. It is estimated by the Government of Orissa that rice crops on 2.85 million hectares of land will be or has been damaged totally due to the drought. Significantly, no cultivation was taken up on close to one million hectares of land.

Ponds, tanks, dams and reservoirs have dried up resulting in an acute crisis for irrigation water. The drought due to monsoon failure has depleted underground water level in several districts in western Orissa. Water levels have fallen by over 10 feet following heavy withdrawal by farmers for irrigation purposes. It has also led to drinking water scarcity in some areas.

I. REQUESTING ACT MEMBER INFORMATION

The Lutheran World Federation/Department for World Service- India Programme (ACT/LWS India)

II. IMPLEMENTING ACT MEMBER & PARTNER INFORMATION

The Lutheran World Federation /Department for World Service- India Programme (ACT/LWS-India) is a relief and development organisation, established with the mandate to alleviate the suffering of distressed groups irrespective of caste, religion, gender or political affiliation. ACT/LWS India has been implementing Integrated Development and Disaster Response projects since 1974 in several States of India. LWS India program continues to receive strong support and co-operation from the respective State Governments and International donors. LWS India is a nominated member of the State level High Powered Committee on Disaster Management. LWF, being one of the sponsor organisations of the 'Code of Conduct' for The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Disaster Relief', LWS India designs its disaster response intervention accordingly. LWSI also follows, to the extent possible within the local context, the SPHERE standards in disaster assistance.

III. DESCRIPTION OF THE EMERGENCY SITUATION

Presently, LWS India implements Integrated Rural Development projects in the districts of Bolangir, Nuapada, Subarnapur and Kalahandi of western Orissa. These districts are chronically drought prone. The topography is undulating, soil is degraded with very little organic matter and therefore, with poor capacity to retain moisture. More importantly, the area is largely mono-cropped and agriculture is entirely rain-fed. Very few farmers have access to sources of irrigation such as wells and tanks. Even these have dried up due to poor rainfall. Paddy seedlings in 90 % of the seed-beds have withered away. Farmers were mostly unable to transplant the seedlings, where they survived, due to lack of rains. In the case of broadcast paddy, inter-cropping operations could not be carried out for want of water.

As a result, the land-poor and the subsistence farmers who depend on agriculture for survival are looking into a bleak, food insecure, immediate future. Supplementary income through wage labour is also now denied to them because of the failure of agriculture across the region. Another rural economic group also deprived of all employment opportunities is the landless agricultural workers who depend entirely on agriculture wage labour for sustenance.

A similar situation exists in Puri, Bhadrak, Jagatsinghpur, Ganjam and Jarsuguda districts of coastal Orissa. In the first three districts ACT/ LWSI is implementing Disaster Preparedness Projects and in Ganjam the LWS-I intervention was concluded just recently. In a normal situation, these districts receive about 65% - 75% of total rainfall during the period from January to July in every year. But during the same period in the current year the districts have received only 27% of average annual rainfall.

Unemployment and food insecurity threatens large population groups and ACT/LWSI proposes to intervene with employment generation programs which will in the short term guarantee employment and food while building assets which can, in the long term, contribute to reducing the impact of future droughts.

This intervention is particularly important in these areas where ACT/LWSI is implementing development and disaster response projects among marginalized communities. Development intervention has, to a considerable extent, curbed the customary exodus following a crop failure in the past. Promotion of self-help groups, village and group funds and grain banks had helped to meet their immediate needs during the lean periods. Occasional employment and collection and sale of minor forest produce supplemented the income and migration, particularly whole family migration was curbed. But this year, the drought and repeated borrowing from group capital and grain banks to replant the damaged crops have depleted these assets. Large scale migration to other states and areas is the only option open to the people and the absence of a large number of people from the communities for a prolonged period will have serious negative consequences for the community development work taking place.

Location of proposed response

While several states are affected by severe drought, ACT/LWS India proposes implementing activities in nine districts of Orissa.

The districts of Kalahandi, Bolangir, Nuapada and Subarnapur in the western part of Orissa will be one of the areas of operation. In these districts ACT/LWSI is implementing rural development projects and therefore has access to several hundred communities and a very large network of community based organisations and groups. Moreover, these are among the most severely affected districts and the impact of the drought will have serious consequences for the communities belonging to scheduled castes and tribes.

Among the other seriously affected areas of Orissa LWS-I has selected the coastal districts of Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Bhadrak, Ganjam and Jharsugada. In the first two districts ACT/LWSI is at present implementing Disaster Response Projects and therefore has several teams present in the area and has links in a large number of communities through the Community Based Disaster Mitigation Teams promoted by the project. In Bhadrak and Ganjam, ACT/LWSI recently concluded their intervention but will be able to quickly activate the network of community organisations and groups which would be partners. In Jharsuguda, there is currently no network or LWSI presence but it has been selected for operation on the recommendation of CASA. Since ACT/LWSI is familiar with the state and enjoys the support and goodwill of the state administration, an implementation structure can be quickly established to implement activities.

Key Problems and Issues

Key issues and problems that the project plans to address can be summarised in three points:

1. Loss of employment opportunities and consequent food insecurity (hunger)

2. Whole family migration, liquidation of assets for survival, borrowing and indebtedness

3. Scarcity of irrigation water, moisture stress and crop loss

Lack of employment opportunities, depletion of food and cash reserves and rising rural indebtedness is reported from the region. Media reports show that 8 -10 % of population from the region have migrated to neighbouring districts or other states in search of livelihood. Under this situation, emphasis will be given to creation of employment opportunities that will increase food security and reduce the migration. If employment is assured, migration, distress sale of assets, borrowing and indebtedness will be controlled.

Acute water scarcity and moisture stress has led to near total crop loss. Paddy seeds sown and transplanted on millions of hectares have been destroyed. Tanks, ponds and water reservoirs have dried up. Community employment generation programmes will help to re-excavate and deepen the tanks and ponds and also create new water harvesting structures that will reduce the impact of future droughts. Although food is offered by the Government at subsidised prices, the poor lack purchasing power and are unable to access the food. Employment will help to improve purchasing power.

ACT is a worldwide network of churches and related agencies meeting human need through coordinated emergency response.

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

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