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Current Drought A Man Made Disaster

ActionAid India held national level consultation on drought, shared perspectives and work experience around drought preparedness

New Delhi: “Our response to the unprecedented drought situation is woefully inadequate,” was the sentiment expressed by participants at the national level consultation on drought organized today in Delhi.The consultation aimed at bringing together various peoples organisations, activists, civil society, research institutes, corporates and concerned government bodies to share their perspectives and work experiences around drought preparedness, relief and mitigation so as to develop our short term and long term strategies for a durable solutions for drought.

Mr. Rajendra Singh, Chairman, Tarun Bharat Sanghsaw the current drought as, “A man made disaster.” He called for,“A community driven decentralizedwater policy as the only solution. Before offering solutions we first need to listen to the knowledge of the farmers who have dealt with drought.”

Mr. Richard Mahapatra, managing editor, of Down to Earthmagazineclaimed “There is no connection between monsoon and drought, the dire situation has been caused mismanagement of water.” He argued that, “the time has come to demand for community rights over water as the only solution to solving drought.”Peoples’ organizations and civil society also have been struggling to respond to the crisis by activating the existing public provisioning entitlements like PDS, ICDS, MDM and MGNREGA. Despite these dismal conditions, there are islands of hope that have emerged from peoples’ initiatives who have constructively promoted water harvesting models and drought resilient farming systems with their traditional knowledge and wisdom across the country.

Mr. Ramesh Sharma of EktaParishadsaid “Government response to drought has been inadequate. There is no clarity who is supposed to respond to drought. We have many agricultural institutions but our basic education system is lacking sensitivity about doing agriculture in chronically drought prone areas.”

Devinder Sharma, agriculture policy analyst, spoke about the need to, “make agriculture drought resistant and change the skewed cropping pattern followed in India. He argued that changes in the cropping pattern would only be possible with a proper price policy and trade policy.” He argued that “policy makes focus too much on GDP and the conditions that create drought are ignored as they do not feature in these calculations. We need to do an evaluation of ecosystem services.”

ActionAid India has been working in India around land and natural resources, promotion of ecological agriculture with a focus on small and marginal farmers, landless poor and communities dependent on natural resources. We are working in rain-fed areas of various locations in Bundelkhand (UP and MP), Marathwada andVidarbha (Maharashtra), Telangana, Odisha, Rajasthan and Karnataka. Our activities include immediate relief work, provisioning of drinking water, dry ration and fodder; and also include ensuring entitlements like PDS, ICDS, MDM and MGNREGA and long term work onwater harvesting and sustainable farming systems.

The national consultation on drought was held to bring together various peoples’ organisations, activists, civil society, research institutes, corporates and concerned government bodies to share perspectives, work experiences and possible solutions  around the question of drought relief, mitigation and preparedness so as to develop short term and long term strategies for durable solutions for drought.

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