The meteorological department may have predicted an above average monsoon, but the scorching summer has created a grim situation across the country. 256 districts across India are hit with a drought, affecting around 300 million people.
One of the worst hit is Latur in the marathwada region of Maharashtra. With Manjara river and many wells in the district running dry, the water scarcity is forcing people to try and find water in new areas, venturing down hazardously steep slopes, forming long human chains, to get to the last few gallons of water at lower elevations.
Women are affected in many ways, at many levels. Only a few hours ago, BBC reported the death of a 12 year old by heatstroke, as she stood in a long cue to fill water from the neighboring district of Beed. Young girls are preferably not sent to school because them staying at home means they can bring in a few extra pots of water.
Women, who work the entire day, planning their meals and habits around minimal utilisation of water, are left with only enough strength to fetch two pots of water. Sometimes that is all that they have for all uses for the whole family, the entire day. In light of such scarcity, people bathe every 8-10 days. In a place where people are forgoing important surgeries to buy water, one can only imagine the health plights of a woman in the area who is on her period!
The drought has caused many farmlands to run dry, and farmers to be drowned neck deep in debt. Though the government does help them with the credit to whatever extent possible, poor weather conditions force them to go back to borrowing money, hence perpetuating the vicious cycle of debt-interest-drought. Latur has one of the highest farmer suicide rates in India. Women, whose gendered roles make them completely dependent on the men for their survival, have organized a Suhaag Bachao Andolan for the same, as reported by FirstPost.
The Maharashtra government is making efforts to provide relief with CM Devendra Fadnavis having ensured delivery of 70 lakh litres of water via water trains from the Dudhana Dam to Latur. But the demand for water on a daily basis continues to be unmet. While on one hand these women continue to jostle against the odds for the daily survival needs of not just themselves, but also their families, issues of the urban elite include larger food portions and consumerism (Guardian)
A sobering thought for us all. The average global temperature this year was 1.07 degrees hotter than the last, as per Guardian reports. Each year, as temperature across the globe rises, summers will continue to get hotter, and water shortage might start hitting home for some of us too. Think about it.
Feature Image Credit: Indian Express