Groundwater Decline Drought Conditions and Associated Impacts

The study found that water level declines have been quite drastic in all the three study areas. For example, in Satlasana, the wells were dry with the shallow yielding aquifers totally dewatered. Attempts by farmers to deepen their wells, including drilling of vertical extension bores, met with limited success, as the additional yield did not sustain long. Some farmers took the risk and drilled

Table 12.2. Key characteristics of the study areas.

Serial number

Satlasana

Bhiloda

Bhuj

Livelihood options • Primary

Others

Climatic conditions

Rainfall

Resource condition (water and soil/land)

Marginal farmers (%) Landless (%) Women

Others

61 69 31

Thakore; Chauhan (backward communities) and Patels

Agriculture

Animal husbandry Service (mostly private) and small business Semiarid zone

650 mm Moderate soil fertility; high groundwater depletion and quality deterioration 63 14

Practice purdah

(veil) system Improved local breed of livestock; changing agricultural practices

70 57 43

Scheduled tribes; Muslims

Forest products; agriculture; animal husbandry Government service

Semiarid zone

750 mm Moderate soil fertility; groundwater quality medium

71 3

Practice purdah

(veil) system Local breed of livestock; traditional' agricultural practices

50 56 43

Rabari; Bharvad; Darbar and others

Animal husbandry; handicrafts

Agriculture

Drought-prone arid zone; disaster-prone (earthquake, cyclone) 350 mm, erratic Poor to moderate groundwater occurrence; high TDS in ground water; saline soils

Practice purdah (veil)

system Local breed of livestock; traditional agricultural practices new deep bore wells. Only 5 out of 11 bore wells drilled across four villages yielded a reasonable quantity of water. The rest were dry. By 2001, most of the existing and new wells as well as the bore wells had more or less dried up. Low rainfall did not result in much surface water flows, and hence there was not much recharge to the ground, with the result that the cultivated area and the yields suffered a drastic reduction.

Figure 12.2 for Nana Kothasana is a typical representation of the above scenario for the Gadhwada region, while Table 12.3 presents data on the yield obtained based on focus group discussion in Bhanavas. The comparison was between a normal year (considered here as 1998) and the drought period 1999-2002. It is clearly seen that in Satlasana, the total annual agricultural production was reduced by a drastic 60-70% during kharif (monsoon) and 80-95% during rabi (winter); for summer crops, the reduction was in the range of 90-95% between 1996/97 and 2002/03. In many cases, the summer crop was almost nil.

Similarly, the impact on livestock was also severe: 10% of the cattle died in Bhiloda, 17% in Bhuj and 16% in Satlasana. The arid Bhuj also witnessed the death of 21% of its camels, in spite of their known resilience and adaptability to water-scarcity conditions (Mudrakartha, 2002 ; Mudrakartha et al., 2004a).

The fall in agricultural output and loss of livestock generally had an adverse impact across all the rural families in the study areas. Rural families, who have a tradition of ensuring their family requirement of food grain through agriculture, were instead forced to purchase their food grain requirements from the market. The much-needed cash flow for this was coming from the animal husbandry, which had assumed greater significance as livelihood realignment took

Year

Fig. 12.2. Trends in cropped area in Nana Kothasana village.

Table 12.3. Decline in production of selected crops in Bhanavas village. (From Mudrakartha et al., 2004a.)

1998 1999 2000 2001 2002

Monsoon crops

Groundnut 100 50

Cluster beans 100 30

Maize 100 50

Minor millet (bajra) 100 70 Winter crops

Wheat 1 00 50

Mustard 100 50

Tobacco 100 10

Did not cultivate Did not cultivate Did not cultivate

50 25

Did not cultivate Did not cultivate

Did not cultivate Did not cultivate Did not cultivate 25

Did not cultivate Did not cultivate

Crop failed Crop failed Crop failed Crop failed 5

Did not cultivate

Did not cultivate

Note: Year 2000 was the severest of all the 4 years of drought.

place. Figure 12.3 is a typical representation of the livelihood realignment in the study villages. As can be seen from the figure, there was an overall drop in income to 33% of its previous levels by the end of the 4-year drought period. However, this drop and the overall impact of drought were not uniform across study sites. Reduction of income has also led to families spending less on food. While this reduction was 70% in Satlasana and 30% in Bhiloda, Bhuj families ended up spending 9% more than usual. It is interesting to note that the availability of work and cash flow in Bhuj in the years after the earthquake of 2001 helped them to spend money on food.

A few more things were happening on the agriculture front. First, due to the prolonged drought there was total erosion of the well-established agro-biodiversity using local composite seeds and low-chemical fertilizers. Second, since farmers' cash flow was greatly eroded during, or at the end of, the drought period, they bought poor-quality seeds pushed by moneylenders who also sell agricultural inputs. Third, newer seed varieties pushed by the market replaced the conventional, pest-tolerant local varieties.

1998

1998

Agriculture 2 Animal husbandry i Non-farm labour

Agriculture 2 Animal husbandry i Non-farm labour

Fig. 12.3. Changes in relative share of livelihood income sources.

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