The Big Picture – Drought & Water Scarcity: Impact on Livelihood & Migration
The situation of droughts has reached alarming levels in the country. As per the estimate close of 330 million people are affected by various kind of droughts. The central water commission has been serious over this issue and has formed numerous committees to look for various short, medium and long term solutions. The article deals with the issues associated with water, drought scarcity and its impact on livelihood & migration.
Maratwada region in Maharashtra is the worst drought affected area in the country. However this is something that is not new. Over the years this region is drought affected and it is experiencing partial drought almost every year, what has triggered now is unscientific agricultural practises, inefficient use of water by industries, and failure on the front of water governance etc
Successive governments have come and gone, not giving proper importance to areas frequently affected by droughts. Decrease in crop productivity, fall in agricultural prices has been a scenario over the last couple of years. The situation is only a reminder that lack of effective policy making at both central and state level has only multiplied the problem. As a supplement to prevailing drought situation in these regions, the people are migrating to better of places in search of livelihood and better opportunity.
Inadequate use of MGNREGA funds in drought affected areas has shattered the lives of many rural landless labourers and prompted them for distress migration. MGNREGA jobs and its payment should be made available to poor labourers and steps should in this regard to prevent distress migration.
Finally, to arrive at a solution several immediate measures should be taken, like banning the use of water in industries for few weeks, making payments for MGNREGA labourers à to avoid distress migration, to ensure cattle’s are safe and sufficient with water. And on a long run more needs to be done. It is surprising that Ralegan Siddhi, which is also located close to drought prone area has adopted effective water management technique that can be used as a role model for further policy making with respect to tackling droughts. We need to be more serious and should not start thinking of framing a policy at a time when people in the drought prone regions are dying. Such a thing is a bad precedent to the very foundation of our democracy. We need to be more responsible, sensible and prudent when it comes to the use of water and in understanding the sentiments of the people.