‘Floods, drought derailing India’s fight against poverty’

October 7th, 2009 - 3:19 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, Oct 7 (IANS) The massive food scarcity in India due to floods and drought is impacting hundreds of millions, derailing ongoing humanitarian work by years and adding to other serious socio-economic woes, warns the US-based non-profit World Vision.
The failure of the monsoon in north, northeast and some parts of western India, has led to 22 percent less rain than normal and now, flooding in the south has left 1.5 million homeless, 200 people dead and over 200,000 homes destroyed, says the organisation.

“As a result, millions of farmers are suffering from failed harvests, or crops destroyed by floodwaters,” said World Vision, a Christian organization that works with children and their families to tackle poverty and injustice.

Without assistance, the organisation said, crop failures could lead to:

-Mass migration from rural areas to the cities

-Increased indebtedness among farmers

-Parents pulling children out of school to work instead

-Increased vulnerabilities for children

-Risk of children being trafficked into labour

-Sexual exploitation

“India is now entering a period of severe food vulnerability,” said Jayakumar Christian, World Vision’s national director who works in India. “We are seeing our development work set back by years.”

He said 350 million Indians were drought affected, including in 52 million covered under World Vision’s 135 project areas. Additionally, the floods in southern India had caught people and the government by surprise.

“The sudden floods came as a real shock to people living in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra because the region has not experienced anything like this in more than 100 years. These are not disaster prone areas.”

According to him, the rates of malnourishment were already high, with half the number of children in drought- and flood-hit areas under its grip, pushing their families to the very edge.

World Vision has appealed for $2 million to meet the immediate needs of 100,000 flood survivors driven from their homes into relief camps after their crops were destroyed and their villages cut off.

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