Caritas India strives to make central India drought proof

New Delhi: Over the years, recurring droughts and frequent crop failures have driven the farming community of central India to despair.

A major part of the region is reeling under drought leading to severe water crisis. Farming communities of Marathwada and Vidarbha regions of Maharashtra and Bundelkhand that straddles Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have lost their livelihoods to the vagaries of nature.

The Catholic Church in India strives to mitigate the miseries of these farmers through its humanitarian services. It seeks lasting solutions to chronic droughts that render farmers destitute on their own land.

Caritas India, the Church’s social action wing, had initiated reflections at various levels for developing strategies of drought intervention. They ended in February 2017 with the formulation of Water and Agriculture Resilience Mission (WARM), a solidarity response of the Church to farmers’ distress. The initial phase of the mission was completed in July.

It also launched WARM review cum proposal finalization write-shop that lasts four days from July 30 to September 2, at Nagpur to empower Community Based Organizations as advocacy agents for addressing water security and community mobilization. They would in turn impart water governance and sustainable and climate resilient agriculture practices among some 30,000 households in Marathwada, Vidarbha and Bundelkhand regions.

Majority of these households belong to marginalized farmers, women and youth from Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Communities. During the 18 months of WARM program’s first phase led to getting 310 Water Friends functioning, digging, renovating or cleaning 55 open wells, making or cleaning 165 soak pits, 79 farm ponds, renovating 39 damaged water bodies, making 3,555 compartment bunds.

On the agriculture front, it has inspired 409 households to start organic farming, 1,064 households to start mix cropping or traditional farming using traditional seeds, and 488 families to start kitchen garden besides planting 3,710 fruit and deep-rooted trees. It has also helped 3,509 households to mobilize 68,186,243 rupees through various government schemes and programs.

The meeting reviewed the progress of the first phase and worked on proposal development through write shop.

All the six partners have evolved new continuation proposal for WARM. The review cum write-shop was facilitated by Caritas team headed by Saju M.K., Manager of Caritas’ West zone.

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