Description of the Research Study Areas

In the context of the 1999-2002/03 drought, we conducted a study in three areas of Gujarat, to try and understand how people respond differentially to changing resource, in particular groundwater, conditions and what that may suggest

Table 12.1. Losses due to drought 1999-2001. (From Tenth Five-year Plan, 2002-2007.)

Damage to

Estimated

Cattle

Population

cropped

value of

population

Serial

Districts

Villages

affected

area

damaged crops

affected

number

Year

affected

affected

(million)

(million ha)

(million $)

(million)

1

1999

125

NA

37.00

13.42

1.44

34.56

2

2000

110

54,883

37.81

36.70

79.12

54.17

3

2001

1 03

22,255

8.82

6.74

NA

3.428

for groundwater management paradigms. The 20 villages studied are located in the Bhuj taluka of the arid Kutch district, and in the semiarid Gadhwada7 region of Satlasana and Bhiloda talukas in Mehsana and Sabarkantha districts respectively of the Aravalli Hills region, which forms the uppermost catchment of the Sabarmati river basin. All the study areas are drought-prone where climate is a major factor contributing to regular drought occurrence and desertification processes; in Kutch, there is also a salinization dimension. During the last 50 years, Kutch suffered 30 years of predominantly agricultural drought, while north Gujarat suffers drought 3-5 years in every 10-year period. The key socio-economic and physical aspects of the study sites are given in Table 12.2.

The study was conducted across 400 households spread across 20 villages in the three study sites. The study was conducted over a 21A-year period during 2002-2004. Data from beyond the study duration were also used as these were from regular project villages of Vikram Sarabhai Centre for Development Interaction (VIKSAT).8 The study was carried out with structured questionnaires and unstructured checklists to capture certain adaptive strategy dimensions through focus groups such as with farmers and women. Since migration formed a key adaptive strategy, there was interaction with families also for understanding stress dimensions, and the extent of their willingness and comfort.

Both north Gujarat and Kutch are drought-prone regions; but the frequency, intensity and type of drought are different and so also is the perception of the people and their adaptive mechanisms. As seen from the following table, the rainfall conditions, social caste composition, natural resource conditions, hydrogeology and livelihood composition are all different.

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