Saturday, August 15, 2009

Drought 2009 cause and what can be done?!

The drought is rare of this magnitude and for many people it is a one generation memory. Meteorological and information factors are responsible for this situation. Other cumulative factors are:

· Global recession

· Increase in commodity prices

· Occurrence of diseases

· Increase and decrease in real estate prices

· Up and down of stock market

· Availability of credit is low

· National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme – Deviation of labor for indirect natural resources enhancement activities rather contributing to the direct production activities. This has lead to Non availability of labor or uneconomical to hire them.

Although the Andhra Pradesh state government is spending lots of money for the irrigation projects, but the lack of rains and water source impacts all. Each family has optimum number of pots for water collection based on the usage and interval of supply as in case of drinking / domestic water supplied at household level / community taps. The number of structures being planned for recharge, retention and reuse, as mentioned (in the coming book of Frank van Steenbergen) are not being done on scientific basis. In the process false hopes are created for the people. As a result, it is like people are waiting at the taps with empty pots, unsure of the quantity and the timing and also they are not prepared for the untimely surplus. The seasonality is disturbed due to the climate change factors in many parts. In Andhra Pradesh the traditional seasonality has been disturbed, so the sowing. More over the seeds are not traditional they are Hybrid / genetically modified and has very less relationship to the seasonality of weather factors. The misinformation by the responsible agencies regarding the rains is another major cause of failure of crops. Due to intense communication media, farmers are able to get the information from the weather announcements. This year monsoons arrival was predicted ahead of the normal time, the depressions occurring and the rainfall estimates were wrong, so farmers have made mistakes. IMD did not consider the el-nino impact on the Indian monsoon, if they have declared this year a very low rainfall year, people could have shifted to low water consuming crops / would have stopped sowing. Billions worth seed, inputs and the labor is lost.

We do have patterns of good and bad years, but drought of this magnitude is a rare thing to happen. The coping is more important than looking for adaptation at the moment. Farmers are asking what to do now. Here are some of the possibilities:

1. Conserving the resources

a. Water in the tanks

b. Conserving the trees

c. Conserving fodder rather selling

d. Food grains storage rather selling

2. Coping

a. Prioritizing the sale in distress

b. Continue to do any work which provides food or wage

c. Stop risking through going for borewells / wells

d. Reduce input costs

e. Ensure drinking water for people and animals

f. Food and fodder security

3. Not to do

a. Don’t sell your land

b. Try avoiding getting credit – the interest rates would swallow you

c. Stop unnecessary spending on the cultural / social events – festivals, marriages, etc.

d. Be united rather being in nuclear / dis-jointed families.

e. Don’t cut / sell trees

f. Take care of the health, so as to reduce the expenses on health

4. Prepare for the adaptation

a. Micro-irrigation practices

b. Go for Sustainable and subsistence crops rather just commercial crops

c. Social networks are useful be in the groups existing at various levels

As facilitators what we can do:

Document the happenings to understand the impact and support the administration and civil society.

Contribute to long term plans / programs

Create large scale awareness among the policy makers, farmers, etc.

What else can we do?

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