This year the Mann Taluka (Mann area) in Maharashtra is experiencing one of the worst droughts ever. Together with the Khatao Taluka in the Satara district it has received level of rainfalls far below average, almost around zero in 2011-2012. The current situation is even worse than the severe drought of 1972. It has become impossible for the people to live in this area as the groundwater level has fallen down and there is no water in the wells anymore. People have to walk around 5-10 km to get water.
Drinking water is scarce; today many villages of the Mann taluka get their drinking water only through water tankers. Due to the drought, farmers have not been able to harvest their Kharif crops. There is no fodder left available for the cattle.
Drought is not new to Mann taluka. The average rainfall in the area has never been more than 5 inches. This clearly means that even for drinking water there should be a comprehensive policy from the State. Mann taluka having more than 115 villages a total population of 1, 99,563 has only 2 water reservoirs at Dhakani and Andhali. It is sad that Dhakani reservoir has water but it is contaminated, hence it is rendered unusable. Andhali water reservoir has almost dried up.
The situation clearly shows that policy makers do not have any vision to make drinking water available to people. As a result people are migrating from this area not in search of employment but in search of water. Since the last six months in 40% of villages water is supplied through water tankers. This distribution of water through tankers is becoming more and more challenging, as the reservoirs run dry.
As a result of the unavailability of fodder and water, the number of dead animals and animals sold was recorded around 25000 already. To lose cattle due to drought is a financial disaster and means the loss of the main source of income for whole families. In a situation like this there exists a serious need to provide water to households by tankers and to arrange cattle fodder and water in the affected areas.
In order to help affected farmers, the Mann Deshi Foundation has started a Cattle Camp, an initiative with the support of the district officer, on the 21st of April 2012. It organized a wide field at which it provides free fodder and water for all cattle whose owners do not have the means to feed them anymore. After the first two weeks, farmers from the surrounding villages brought more than 2200 cattle to the Cattle Camp. Until the Monsoons arrive, the Mann Deshi Foundation expects at least the same amount of cattle to be brought to the Cattle Camp additionally. Once they arrive, employees of the Mann Deshi Foundation take care of the cattle together with one or two members of the owning family who normally stay at the camp. In order to provide enough water, the Mann Deshi Foundation has purchased a 24000 liter tanker.
The Mann Deshi Foundation has taken up its responsibility to serve the community by starting the Cattle Camp – an initiative to provide water and fodder to animals in the Mhaswad village and surrounding area. The situation is so pathetic that people are coming to the Cattle Camp not only to feed their animals but also because water is made available for them to cook food for their family. The Mann Deshi Foundation plans to deliver fodder and water to farmers in need at their Cattle Camp for at least three-four months.
The images here are part of an ongoing documentation of the Drought in Maharashtra. The series attempts to highlight the plight and consequent resilience and response of Man in the face of a precarious and ever-changing environment. The images here have been taken using moonlight and the few lamp-posts provided at the Camp.
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