A DROUGHT BEYOND WATER
A short documentary about how drought and climate change are impacting people in India.
South Asia Solutions
Ritu Bhardwaj, Mayurim Das, Annette Jacob, Renuka Saroha, Shibayan Raha
Drought is not just the absence of water, it is a multi dimensional issue affecting lives of the people in numerous ways. In the summer of 2016, we joined a foot-march in Bundelkhand region of India to understand drought. “A Drought Beyond Water” elucidates how a drought can lead to total collapse of rural economy.
As India experienced its worst drought in decades, our team joined a foot march in Bundelkhand (one of the worst drought affected areas) to understand and documnet the impacts of climate change on the lives of the people.
Recognising the continuity and severity of drought in India and its visible impact on the lives of the people living in rural areas, Swaraj Abhiyan (a political organisation in India) filed a PIL with Supreme Court of India in December 2015 in order to create pressure on state and national governments to ensure immediate and adequate relief work in the drought affected areas. The apex court heard the arguments put forward by Prashant Bhushan, (a senior lawyer), on behalf of Swaraj Abhiyan and passed a landmark judgement in May 2016. The historic order passed by Supreme Court in the Swaraj Abhiyan drought relief case directed the state and national governments to:
1) distribute 5kgs of subsidised foodgrains per family member per family per month,
2) extend the mid-day meals to children in schools even during summer vacations with provision of providing milk or egg (depending on preference of the child) at least 3 times a week and if possible 5 times a week.
3) provide compensation for crop losses at a stipulated rate,
4) immediately stop recovering loans from farmers and start new loans, and
5) ensure guaranteed employment to rural folks under rural employment guarantee scheme with strict penalty clause for government’s failure to provide jobs in rural areas.
A ‘Jal Hal Padyatra’ (foot-march) was organised by these civil society organisations in the drought hit villages of Marathwada and Bundelkhand, the two hotbeds of the crisis. The Yatra intended to inform villagers about immediate relief available in terms of entitlements ensured under the verdict of the Supreme Court and motivate them to use their traditional knowledge of water conservation and farming to guard against impacts of climate change such as drought.
Our documentary centred around this march and the stories, which emerged from it.