Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Drought in Rajasthan, 2009

A Sure Report

By Chanchal Tailong and Mark L. Takefman[1]

Rajasthan has faced 84 droughts in the last 100 years, including five from 1997 to 2002. All 32 districts of the state are affected and are currently suffering from sharp depletion of ground water and damage to the livelihood and animal husbandry sectors. Scientific surveys show, for example, that underground water in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan is disappearing at the rate of one foot per year. [2]

As against 446.76 mm rainfall in Rajasthan in 2008, this year the state received only 267.43 mm (10 inches) of rains, which comes under deficit category of rainfall.

“Water insecurity has come about because of poor hydrological management - water storage, distribution, usage and conservation - as well as failure of water authorities to periodically survey and record accurately the state of the country's water table, the extent of its usage and wastage. Agriculture is the chief consumer of water. Therefore it's imperative to ensure scientific delivery and usage of water for irrigation, besides encouraging drought-resistant seeds and changing cropping patterns where necessary.” [3]

Gautam Chikermane of the Hindustan Times wonders: “Why, after six decades of freedom, 60 per cent of India’s agriculture is dependent upon rainwater? - The real drought is one of ideas, a famine of execution — not just an Act of God” [4]

But the drought on ground zero is real for the people and they are suffering, some dying, as they watch their livelihoods wither and their animals die before them. They, the poorest in the country, are asked to pay the higher prices for their basic needs by selling their land and other possessions. Their plight unfortunately, is good for the GDP of the country and opportunists that move into the area. This is cited as one of the reasons in P. Sainath’s book: “Everyone Loves A Good Drought[5]

“Predictably, market forces of mercantile and usurious capital along with land speculators masquerading as real estate businesses look upon the drought as an opportunity to make huge profits. Anticipating a fall in production, stocks are cornered/hoarded. They are aided by government sanctioned and encouraged speculation (commodity futures markets). Thus, the economy denies work and income and raises food prices. This is a recipe for large scale accentuation of hunger and misery for the people who even in the best of times have limited and uncertain access to food.”[6]

We are proposing a comprehensive multi-faceted and timed approach to this situation that will involve the resources of many organizations and people. We hope that you can be a part of the solution as we move to help those in need and convince the government to do the right thing the attached study can make some visualization to make felt need planning in the rural areas for the long term objectives.

Here we are sharing a small study conducted at a village – Ghonia, Block – Chohatan on date 16.09.09by Mrs Chanchal Tailong and Mr. Takefman.

Activity - Meeting on drought with CBO- Village level food Security Committee and other community members

Availability of water resources in the village

  • 12 Tube Wells
  • 5 Public tankas
  • 1 Personal house tankli

Some effects of drought on this community:

  • 60 cows and 150 goats died due to lack of water and fodder.
  • The poor growth of bajra crop in the field
  • Non availability of drinking water in the village and it is 2-3 km far from village to get water.
  • The price of the fodder became so high and the rates are gwar Rs10- Rs12 instead of Rs5-7 per Kg

Problem faced by the community at village level

Eating habits

  • Reduced to eat variety of food and vegetables but they are eating with red chilly, salt onion.
  • Started to prepare bajra flour at home on daily basis.
  • It all happens due to the higher price of the eating materials and their processing.

Water resources

  • 12 govt tube wells are available in the village through which they are supplying water to the other villages but today only one tube well is working which is also supplies water to the near by villages. Which this looks as like a mismanagement of water resource of the government to the locals.
  • villagers have not been getting water from last 15 days (except for the women having to walk 2-3 kilometres in the hot sun)
  • Water Tankas are empty, cattle drinking troughs are also empty.


  • Villagers are forced to purchase fodder at higher prices.
  • Villagers have demanded fodder from government for their livestock but their is no provision for goat fodder.
  • The government is only providing dry fodders, khejari leaves, dry local plants.

Source of Income

  • Handicraft is one of the sources of income for women in the village but they are receiving fewer wages for their work as the local economy changes into survival mode.
  • Villagers are not getting benefits of NREGA scheme; it has been stopped for the last two months.


  • Open defecation
  • Children and women are not getting optimal food, vegetables and water.
  • Malaria cases found in the area.
  • Diarrhoea cases found in the area.
  • Lack of purification or chlorination of drinking water.
  • Hygiene is severely reduced such as bathing only every third day..

Awareness about global warming

  • Of course, the villagers understand some aspects about global warming.
  • During the interview process they expressed their idea about global warming like increase in temp on Earth due to deforestation, misuse of water, personal tube wells in the urban houses, dry berries or “Bawari”.

Villager’s Ideas about saving of water

  • Reducing misuse of water such as by cleaning utensils by sand.
  • Availability of water tankas and tankli in each house can save water for at least 2 to 3 days per family.
  • Use of Dandi Lota (vessel with stick) at home can protect water form the germ infection and can be durable for more days.
  • Recharging of ponds through peoples participation like scientifically recharging of water during the rains and the digging of old dry pond through peoples participation.

Ideas on how to fight drought

  • Establishment of fodder bank at village level.
  • Monitoring of public water supply system.
  • Chlorination of water in tankli.
  • Efforts to recharge pond through people’s participation and through NREGA scheme.
  • Construction of public sitting facility (shed) through NREGA instead of digging land for the fencing purpose of the field.
  • Construction of personal house through NREGA from which the single, disabled, BPL families etc will get proper shelter in the desert area.
  • Distribution of cereals, grains, flour, etc instead of wage under NREGA scheme.
  • Handicraft work should be included in NREGA work especially for the women those who are involved in handicraft.
  • Construction of latrines in the village through NREGA.

[1] Mrs. Chanchal Tailong is a consultant to SURE and has been involved with NGOs under WHO project, State and National health implementation programme in Rajasthan under Integrated Population Development and National Rural Health Mission respectively for many years. Mr. Takefman is a Canadian Volunteer Advisor, sponsored by CUSO-VSO and VSO India. He has worked with community service programs all over the world with The New World Foundation of New York.

[2] United Nations Development Programme

[5] Penguin India 1996, ISBN: 0-14-025984-8

[6] Kamal Nayan Kabrav, Hard News Media, September 2009, http://www.hardnewsmedia.com/2009/09/3205