In 12 states there are 299 districts which have been declared by their state governments as affected by drought.
We know which districts these are, and the central and state governments have announced repeatedly since September 2009 what measures are being taken to lessen the impacts of crop losses and livelihood shock.
What I failed to see in all forms of reportage on the subject was: how many people are affected? There was no mention in the government bulletins, there has been no estimate made by the agri academic network, and of course the media won't make the effort.
It has proven tedious, finding the numbers and working on them, but the result is a shock: at least 459 million!
They may not all be people belonging to rural farming households, but there is a very good likelihood that in their families, there is at least one direct way in which they are linked to cultivation, livestock, agri inputs or selling produce.
It is an enormous number, and the surprise is that we haven't seen it yet, even at state level. The data comes from the Census Bureau, using the 2001 district rural population totals and using an annual inflator for the period 2001-2011 provided by the Bureau.
The rest was a matter of getting the list of district names to match the 'drought' districts.
Here is the state list:
Andhra Pradesh 60,192,000 Assam 25,484,000 Bihar 56,155,518 Himachal Pradesh 5,944,000 Jharkhand 23,547,000 Karnataka 28,599,566 Maharashtra 53,560,803 Manipur 1,775,000 Madhya Pradesh 35,442,875 Nagaland 1,818,000 Rajasthan 42,943,833 Uttar Pradesh 124,236,290 Total 299 districts 459,698,885
And here is a list of 25 districts with the highest rural populations among the 299:
District 2009 %age of rural St. District rural popn popn in dist. UP Allahabad 4,296,930 75.55 UP Azamgarh 4,197,028 92.45 UP Jaunpur 4,173,584 92.60 AP East Godavari 4,073,785 76.50 BIH Muzaffarpur 3,888,762 90.70 UP Sitapur 3,672,037 88.05 UP Sultanpur 3,528,704 95.26 MAH Ahmadnagar 3,466,428 80.11 AP Guntur 3,454,328 71.20 UP Hardoi 3,446,228 88.01 BIH Gaya 3,430,031 86.30 AP Mahbubnagar 3,414,341 89.43 KAR Belgaum 3,388,382 75.97 BIH Saran 3,375,774 90.81 AP West Godavari 3,316,613 80.26 MAH Nashik 3,272,912 61.20 MAH Pune 3,246,651 41.92 UP Ghazipur 3,231,019 92.32 AP Chittoor 3,188,642 78.35 UP Kushinagar 3,180,853 95.42 BIH Patna 3,154,918 58.43 AP Krishna 3,090,369 67.92 RAJ Jaipur 3,072,489 50.64 AP Nalgonda 3,058,764 86.68 AP Karimnagar 3,056,271 80.56
When the central and state administrations roll out their drought management programmes, you would expect them to have in mind the number of people, block by block and tehsil by tehsil, they need to reach. I find it disturbing that the language emerging from the drought-control measures has, with a few exceptions only, been focused on "saving rabi" and "shortfalls". What about the people?
Submitted by rahul.goswami on Thu, 19/11/2009 - 16:14