At Founding Fuel, we believe that we, as a society, have the power to solve our hardest problems. One of the biggest problems that we face at this point of time is the drought that has hit several parts of the country. This is not the first time we have been confronted with such a crisis. So, if we have the power to solve our hardest problems, why are we unable to address it? Is it our inability to learn from the past, from other nations around the world and our failure to act? These are the questions that made us pick up drought as a theme for this podcast. Do listen to this, and let us know what you think.
Part 1: The ground realities
In part one, the experts talk about how dire the situation is—last month, the government told the Parliament that 33 crore people, or 25% of India's population, are facing drought. However, drought by itself is not something you can avoid—it affects rich as well as poor countries. So how do you prepare yourself to anticipate and manage a drought situation? There are things India can learn from others—particularly the way the countries in Africa’s Sahel region came together after the drought in the 1970s to engineer solutions for water management.
Part 2: Solutions: Taking care of tomorrow
Democracies have strong feedback loops and politicians have a strong incentive to listen to people and act. And indeed there is some action on the ground in response to calls to action. Yet, drought has hit Marathwada four times in the last five years. And every time we were as helpless as we were the first time. Why doesn’t democracy work in this case? Simply because there is no pressure for long term solutions, only short term relief.
So, what’s the way forward? Fortunately we have some examples on the ground. Over the last few years, a group of volunteers has been working closely with local communities, backed by help and guidance from those who have wider corporate experience, to de-silt dams and rivers, dig trenches, and harvest rain water.
The local communities in these initiatives weren’t just beneficiaries, but active participants—in terms of efforts and monetary contribution.
Part 3: Immediate relief and big policy changes—both are equally important
It would be fair to say that India responds to a crisis rather well. Even when government is unable to respond, people step in. However, for a drought-free India that is not helpless when the monsoon fails, we need to take a broader view of the problem. We need to re-think our water policies to avert water scarcity and its impact on agriculture, health and incomes.
There is much India can learn from other countries on managing its water resources. Together with policy changes, technological solutions can be brought in for better results.