to these changes in a variety of ways to keep the hearth burning, even at the cost of disruption of their social and family life. At the extreme in terms of resource management, farmers sell their topsoil to brick kilns to abet other forms of land degradation (Moench and Dixit, 2004; Mudrakartha, et a/., 2004a). This indicates the desperation of some farmers who are not able to adapt.
What we now see is a dilemma between short-term livelihood and long-term resource management, between immediate gains and long-term human welfare as well as resource sustainability. The tendency to obtain short-term benefits even at the cost of resource degradation seems to have set in; the segment of population that depends directly on groundwater for its primary livelihood seems to be facing a constant threat to its conservation and resource management efforts.
This chapter attempts to capture the multifaceted social, physical, cultural, policy and economic dimensions of this dilemma through the study of farmer response to drought, an extreme and compressed example of the general decline in groundwater resources. The study was focused on three arid and semiarid districts in the Indian state of Gujarat, which experienced drought over the period 1999-2002 (Fig. 12.1).
The chapter first describes the groundwater situation and drought in western India. It then depicts the differential impact of drought on agricultural production and the adaptations farmers have made to respond to new conditions. Finally, it examines how the impact of drought varies across the three study areas, the factors behind this differentiation and what it tells us about policy and practical options for groundwater management.
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