Coping with drought in India

Paddy re-plantation in progress near check dam using water from the check dam Credits: Jeevan Vikas Sanstha-Chandwa/Caritas India

Paddy re-plantation in progress near check dam using water from the check dam
Credits: Jeevan Vikas Sanstha-Chandwa/Caritas India

Bara is a village situated in the drought-prone area in Jharkhand State in eastern India. Difficult climate conditions and complete dependency on rain means that farmers only produce one crop per year. The agricultural yield was extremely low. Since the villagers had few opportunities for other types of employment in the area, they migrated to cities in search of work.

But a few years ago the situation began to improve. In 2005, a local villager named Samaj Vikas Sanstha started a drought preparedness programme in Bara Village with support from Caritas India. A village development committee consisting of 9 men and 3 women was formed to take up the task of awareness raising within the community on the need to conserve precious natural resources, such as water.

As a result, the community is more conscious about the changing climate and better prepared to face the adverse situations that may come. Indeed, the whole village is more united than ever, meeting regularly to discuss their problems find solutions.

One solution came in the form of check dam construction project. This has helped the community improve the availability of water for irrigation purposes and increase the existing drinking water.

Farmers have increased their yields to three crops per year. During the rainy season, they are able to cultivate paddy and during periods of low rain, they cultivate crops such as potatoes, peas, cabbages, grams, wheat, onion, and pumpkin.

This has had a positive effect on their income levels. An additional income source has been in the cultivation of pumpkin, carala, ladies finger, and beans during the dry summer months.

Another solution was to install open ponds for fish rearing. By investing 10kg of fingerlings (young fish) into the pond, they were able to harvest more than 150 kg fish within the first year.

By minimizing the impact that drought has on the livelihoods of the villagers, the amount of migration has been reduced and the local economy has been reenergized. The surplus vegetables and fish were sold at the market and became an extra source of income for the villagers.

Another success came through the access of education for the local children. Previously there were no schools in this village and the children were required to travel long distances for their education. Through the joint-cooperation between the self-help group members and local villagers, a school and a hut were built. Inspired by what they witnessed, the State Government built an additional building for the school and appointed a teacher’s assistant.

This article originated from a case study from Caritas India’s Natural resource Management and is supported by Caritas Australia. Please reference any queries to Sunil Simon, Caritas India. He can be contacted at

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