At least 43 million people
in the Indian state of Rajasthan are suffering
an acute shortage of food and clean water after five years of continual
drought. The drought, which the Indian government describes
as the most widespread in 15 years, is affecting 300
million people in 12 states, but hardest hit has been Rajasthan,
where the latest drought has destroyed 4.8 million hectares of crops
and killed 54 million livestock.
In response, the International Federation has launched an appeal for 1.3 million Swiss francs (US$ 973,000) to support the Indian Red Cross (IRCS) in providing food parcels to 75,000 people in five districts of Rajasthan for four months. "People are only meeting half their nutritional needs. There is great concern over the health of a population, particularly women and children, that is experiencing prolonged periods of hunger. This situation is worsened by the scarcity of clean water," said IRCS Secretary General Dr. Vimala Ramalingam.
Groundwater levels have fallen by up to 32 metres, forcing many people to migrate to other areas. In the past few months, the IRCS has been working with the local authorities to provide up to 15 tankers of water a day to families living below the poverty line in the district of Pali. In addition, free medicines have been provided to the poorest families visiting primary health care centres.