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459 million hit by drought

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?

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How does this large number 459 million compare

Are we saying that the number of people affected by drought is FAR MORE than the population of the world's third most populated country?  This is HUGE!

and it is shocking to se the apathy of the media nd government.  How can we get people to sit up and notice this?

Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.