Dry spell grips India

BY RACHEL CLARK | BALTIMORE | August 12, 2002


While much of India is immersed in floodwaters, several areas are suffering what is thought to be the worst drought since 1987.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Monday 12 of India’s 29 states were affected by the drought.

According to the Agence France-Presse, the drought will have a significant impact on India’s economy, as agriculture employs 70 percent of India’s one-billion population.

“The Drought Task Force meeting, headed by the Deputy Prime Minister, on 1 August indicated that the recovery of some crops could only be possible if it rains before mid August,” the UNOCHA Web site said. “Industry groups also fear a serious recession and predict the drought could take one percentage point off annual economic growth in the current fiscal year. As a result of scanty rainfall, the Power Ministry fears inevitable power cuts as hydro-electricity generation is affected. The Union Minister for Agriculture stated that a realistic assessment of the drought scenario could only be made around 15 August.”

The Indian government dedicated several million dollars to programs related to drought relief, and affected states requested help from international relief and development organization CARE and development funding agency Action Aide. The United Nations Disaster Management Team is also responding.

Many faith-based organizations are responding to the situation through the relief and development organization called Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action, or CASA.

“We give CASA a block grant every year because India is fairly disaster prone,” said a representative from the United Methodist Committee on Relief. “But CASA has not requested additional funds for the drought.”

The Mennonite Central Committee’s focus in India is on supporting homes destroyed by in-fighting between Hindus and Muslims, said a representative, but they partner with CASA. A representative from Lutheran World Relief said they will begin a response this week. Week of Compassion is also helping india through CASA. And World Vision is developing ways to lessen the impact of the drought conditions on impacted communities. In September, they plan to implement rehabilitation programs.

While drought has hurt much of India, flooding has damaged parts of the country as well. The Government of India’s Central Water Commission reported that the River Katakhal flooded above danger level in the state of Assam, located in northeast India. In the state of Bihar, the River Bagmati at Benibad is also flowing above danger level. Friday, UMCOR reported sending a grant to the Friends Service Council in Nepal for flood relief materials.

Thursday, the Government of India said the 6,658 people in Assam had been evacuated and medical aide was provided to 2,530. While flooding in Assam was improving, road communication to other parts of the country was still disrupted. The government distributed food by motorboat. There were 584 people evacuated.

In Bihar, 22 districts were affected by the flood. The state government deployed 5,988 boats and distributed essential food and survival commodities like wheat and candles. Food packets were dropped by three army helicopters and 500 relief camps were functioning.

By Friday, the government reported 2,194 people had lost their lives since the beginning of the year.


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More links on Drought

 

Related Links:

Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action

Government of India’s National Disaster Management

CARE India

Action Aid

World Vision

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