DROUGHT DIARIES: A normal monsoon... so what?

A media briefing and knowledge-sharing workshop on drought, climate change and what Indian villages are doing to adapt and mitigate

Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh
June 30-July 1, 2016

Jhansi, 30th June, 2016 - It will be a normal monsoon this year, meteorological experts and weather-watchers have proclaimed. But will that end the spate of crippling droughts that India has been struggling with? No, we say.

Lack of rainfall does not necessarily lead to drought – a lack of policies, drought-proofing infrastructure and institutional mechanisms do. These are factors that turn even a minor rainfall deficit into a severe drought. In fact, 33 per cent of India's districts are chronically drought-affected; ironically, most of them receive an annual rainfall of 750-1,100 mm.

To support this theory, CSE in collaboration with Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Bundelkhand University, and Ekta Parishad, brought together some of the best drought-management and climate change adaptation practices from the worst drought-hit regions of the country – Marathwada, Bundelkhand and North Karnataka – in a two-day media briefing and knowledge sharing workshop in Bundelhkand University in Jhansi.

The first day of the seminar focused on success stories in watershed management at the local level that highlighted the importance of farmer empowerment and grassroots level community development to locally revive and manage water resources. These success case studies, if scaled up, can provide the necessary impetus towards securing the future and help distressed farming communities combat the adverse fallouts of climate change.

Richard Mahapatra, Managing Editor, Down to Earth Magazine said, “Most of India’s drought-affected states have rainfall above 1,000 mm, while just around 2 hectares of land in a village with 100 mm of rain is enough to completely tide over water scarcity. To add to this, under the MGNREGA scheme, the Government has spent more than Rs. 2 lakh crore in water conservation in last 10 years (creating 21 structures per village), the drought is a human made disaster,” he added. “People continue to suffer due to ineffective policies and a lack of vision of the government.”

Prof Surendra Dubey, Vice Chancellor, Bundelkhand University focused on traditional farming systems. “Traditional water structures like ponds and tanks are essential. But we are now moving away from this system. We can make certain modifications, to suit current scenarios, but we cannot afford to abandon our traditional systems. We also need to focus on micro nutrient rich manure that can increase soil fertility and increase the concentration of earthworms, which is a very vital aspect of agriculture.”

Dr. PK Ghosh, Director of Indian Grasslands and Fodder Research Institute, focused on the experience of Bundelkhand region in particular and  and also focused on how to mitigate the drought in the region. And gave some suggestions to farmers. “Bundelkhand is suffering from three basic agri problems. One is a lack of water. Second is a lack of awareness and third is depletion of pasture land and a lack of proper animal shelters and animal husbandry services.

The seminar and workshop will be followed up on the second day with a day-long field visit to drought-affected villages in some districts of Bundelkhand to practically demonstrate the theories discussed in the seminar.




A normal monsoon... so what?

By: Vineet Kumar, CSE

A normal monsoon, still drought The question is: But why

By: Richard Mahapatra, CSE

Natural Resources of Bundelkhand

By: Dr. Bharatendu Prakash
Bundelkhand Resources’ Study Centre

Handling fodder issues during drought

By: Vikas Kumar
Scientist - Agricultural Economics