ACT Update 1/2003: India - Drought

Geneva, 30 June 2003 - The severe drought that has for more than four years devastated several states in India continues unabated with the state of Rajasthan being the most affected. The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent report that many families have not consumed green vegetables for more than a month, and daily meals have been reduced to one per day. There are numerous reports of people and even whole villages surviving on only wild grass.

Andhra Pradesh is just coming out of a devastating heat wave that caused the death of more than 1,300 people through dehydration and sunstroke. Several years of drought have drastically lowered ground water levels and seriously impacted the farmers who are entirely depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Many farmers have given up hope and are now leaving for the Gulf region in search of jobs.

ACT Appeal ASIN-24 for Drought Assistance was issued on 14 October 2002 with proposals from ACT members Church's Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) - for Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu; Lutheran World Service, India - for Orissa and the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India (UELCI) for one district in Orissa.

CASA - is due to complete its projects under the appeal at the end of July, however, implementation is still in progress and the areas of Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Rajasthan are still reeling under the impact of the drought. It is planned to continue the projects in these areas but CASA will review the situation the first week in July to come to a final decision of termination or extension of the programme.

CASA also continues to implement two large drought relief programmes in Rajasthan (Bikaner and Jodhpur areas). The Bikaner programme in Rajasthan was supported by ECHO through ACT member DanChurch Aid and this programme will continue until 31 July 2003. CASA also received bilateral support of OFDA (US Government) through the Lutheran World Relief for the Jodhpur area. This programme has been extended until 31 July 2003.

LWS India - has just completed its Orissa programme the end of June 2003. However, the drought situation is prevailing in LWS-I operational areas in Gujarat and a proposal for intervention is being prepared.

UELCI - are nearing completion of their projects (30 September), however, due to poor funding (only 18.8%) the projects will have to be terminated early (31 July) in order to avoid co-ordination and administration costs.

The three ACT members are in contact with each other in relation to the discussion about continuation of drought assistance.

Thank you for your attention.

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 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.