coping with climate change A STUDY ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE ADAPTATION MECHANISMS OF COMMUNITIES IN THE FLOOD PRONE ZONES OF BIHAR
Contents Background of the Study
Objectives of the Study
Socio Economic and Demographic Background of the Sample Villages and Vulnerability Context
Land Distribution of Households, and Land Relationship
Occupation of the Sample Households
Migration as Livelihood Opportunity
Experience of Natural Disasters in the Sample Villages
The Changing Nature of Floods
Impact of Floods
Climate Change: Experiences and Impact
Climate Change Perception of the Communities
Impact of Climate Change on Cropping Pattern
Impact on the Resource-Poor and Tenant Farmers
Impact on Occupation, Employment and Livelihood
was supported by Zubin Zaman, Bipul Borah and Bhaswar Bannerjee
Morbidity and Incidence of Diseases
Impact on Women
This research study on Climate Change Adaptation and the publication of this document is supported by Oxfam Hong Kong
Climate Change and Education
Climate Change and Disaster Management: State Interventions, Perspectives and Preparedness
State Interventions: Direct and Indirect
The Officialsâ€™ Perspectives on Climate Change
Functioning of the State Entitlements
Important Issues in State Interventions
Photo Credits Abhigyan Disha, Adithi, Amit Sengupta/Oxfam India, Sam Spickett
Interventions in the Program
Analysis of the Interventions
Brief Account of the Sample Villages
Acronyms and Abbreviations
Dr. Ramesh Sharan
Contributors The publication of this document
Editing/Design Thoughtshop Foundation
India Humanitarian Hub, Oxfam
India, Kolkata Copies of this report and more information are available at www.oxfamindia.org ÂŠ Oxfam India 2011
Background of the study
The present study was conducted in the background of rising concerns on the climate change and its implications, especially for the most vulnerable population living in flood plains of north Bihar. It is now being increasingly realized that poorer families in fragile and vulnerable zones are facing a very high risk of sliding down into further destitution unless corrective steps are taken.
Himalayan ranges carries lot of silt to the plains of North Bihar causing siltation in the beds of the river. 2. Around 3,430 km of embankments were constructed to protect 29.49 lakh hectare areas primarily in the post independent India. As per the government estimates, around 39.64 lakh hectare area still not protected. There has been considerable difference of opinion regarding the usefulness of such embankments. In the event of heavy rains in the catchment areas, they are breached causing worst havoc and disaster. The siltation and the embankments do not allow the water to recede fast causing water logging. It is estimated that around 17% of the land has become waterlogged.
The study area is one of the most vulnerable flood prone areas in the country. This area also happens to be one of the poorest in the country. The study area is drained by a number of rivers emanating from the Himalayas and also from Nepal which have been changing their courses. Flood is not a new or unexpected phenomenon. As a result, communities living in the area have developed their coping mechanisms which are both ex ante (in anticipation of the floods) and ex post (during and after floods) in the light of the recurrent floods had been causing damages in the area. It is worth mentioning that the ex ante mechanisms are the preparedness and adaptations in the long run experiences of the expected frequency and duration of flood as well as changing options of livelihood in the non-flood and flood months. The ex post mechanisms are the mechanism adopted both during the flood and after the floods to restore habitations and livelihood in the post flood regime. The recent climate changes and the erraticity in the weather has put further pressure on the livelihood and lives of the people, especially the poorest and the most vulnerable, landless, artisans, small and marginal farmers, women, aged and children. The changing weather has started affecting almost all the groups living in these zones of the state and is putting new challenges before the communities in the region. The Government has been providing relief and rehabilitation support during the floods. Over the years a number of embankments have also been constructed for the protection of villages. It has a disaster management department in place and a policy for relief. The Government has also been implementing a number of flagship programs and attempting to provide basic facilities. A considerable number of NGOs have also been involved in disaster relief and rehabilitation as well as in promoting livelihood in the area.
3. The semi feudal land relations, the interlocking in the rural markets, and the continuing structural inequalities in the villages of the state. In post independent India, uneven development created regional imbalances in opportunities in agricultural and other sectors, resulting in migration from the sample area.
Objectives of the Study In this background the present study was conducted with the following main objectives: 1. To analyse long term trends of rainfall and temperature (including heat waves and cold waves), developing an understanding of the micro level climate variability in the study area. To document and analyse the incremental impact of Climate variability on livelihood, health, water availability, disaster etc. on different sections of the society 2. To document the adaptation strategies/ innovations both ex ante and ex post being practiced, with cost implications, for coping with climate changes at the community and household levels as well as identify specific existing and potential government linkages with respect to these. 3. To document the knowledge and perspective of the community residing in the disaster prone areas concerning the climate Change and adaptation measures adopted over the time period and to identify how this knowledge can inform specific government policies and practice.
The impact of climate change and the adjustment and mitigation mechanisms needs to be viewed in three broad existential realities: 1. The flood and the damages that have been caused not only due to erraticity of rainfall but also due to sudden release of waters from barrages in Nepal. It is worth mentioning that almost 61% of the catchment area of the rivers lies in Nepal and Tibet. All the major rivers like Kosi, Gandak, Bagmati, Mahananda and Adhwara group of rivers originate in Nepal. The steep gradient of
4. To evaluate the interventions of the Oxfam and the partners perspective on the interventions.
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2. Farming pattern, land use, tenancy status, impacts of flood and climate change 3. Livelihood and migration details 4. Loss due to flood 5. Food security 6. Impact on women and their perspective of the climate change 7. Indebtedness and sources 8. Preparation for the flood 9. Their experiences of floods 10. Perception regarding the Government relief and efforts 11. Perception concerning the Oxfam interventions
The study has used multiple methodologies for achieving the objectives of the study
Secondary Data Analysis 1. Weekly rainfall and temperature data for last 40 years was procured from the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Pune, for 15 meteorological stations in Bihar but only partial data has been received. The data set is partly complete for only one station for the period 19692005, which has been analysed for the trends of rainfall and the temperature. 2. Monthly rainfall data for the districts under the study namely Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi and Madhubani has been recorded from the secondary publications of Government of Bihar, namely Bihar through figures: an Economic Survey of Bihar. Some rainfall data has been downloaded from the Indian Meteorological Department website http://www.imd.gov.in.
Interviews with the Block level Government officials In the interviews with the Block Development Officer (BDO), Circle Officer (CO), Block Agricultural Officer (BAO), their perception of the climate change was also recorded. The main focus was to understand their perspective and the preparedness for the changes in the climate being experienced. Discussions were also carried on with the village leaders and the Panchayat Raj Institutioni functionaries.
Focus Group Discussions (FGD) FGDs were held separately with landless workers primarily belonging to Scheduled Caste (SC) communities, women of different classes, marginal and small farmers, big farmers and the artisan groups. Mixed male and female group discussions were also held. The main focus of the FGDs were to ascertain the nature of climate change being experienced by the communities and groups, its impact on livelihood and food security, health, animals, what has been recent changes in the cropping pattern, major difficulties in the farming, current situation of farming practices what are the major anxieties of the groups, nature of floods, changes in the wage rates, impact of floods, and the difficulties due to changes in climate, and the perception about the government and the non government efforts.
Interview with the NGO functionaries implementing the project Discussions were also held with the chief functionaries and the program functionaries of local Non Government Organizations (NGOs) like Integrated Development Foundation (IDF), Adithi, and Bihar Sewa Samity (BSS). Conversation was around issues related to climate change, and implementation of Oxfam supported Disaster Risk Reduction Project in North Bihar.
Sample Selection The field study was conducted in 7 sample villages; two in Muzaffarpur district, two in Sitamarhi and three in Madhubani. The villages were selected with the consultation of local partners and the local key informants conversant with the conditions. Two criteria were primarily adopted for the selection of the villages; firstly the ease of entry, and secondly the diversity of exposure to floods and natural disasters. From the three regions it was decided to that a minimum of 40 households be taken as sample.
Schedule based survey with the head of different categories of the households The survey was conducted with the head of the households of different categories, based on a structured schedule. The categories included in the survey were: big farmers / landowners, small and marginal farmers, landless agricultural workers, artisan family and women headed families. As it happens, the classification almost becomes coterminous with caste; the big farmers primarily belonged to the upper castes, the small and marginal farmer to the middle castes, landless agricultural workers primarily to the SC communities, and the artisan families to extremely backward communities. Women headed households belonged to middle peasants and the SC communities. The information collected from the in depth interview was on the following: 1. Demographic details, education levels, occupational structures, access to entitlements, land and other assets Oxfam India - 2011
Once the villages were identified, the listing of different categories of communities/ farmers was conducted and the probable list of the farmers in each category was identified. It was ensured that each category in the village was included in the sample. For identifying the households in the sample, a systematic sampling criterion was adopted initially, but in the case of dropouts / non responses / partial responses, the i 2
PRI - Local governance structure
replacement was made with willing respondents. Altogether, 126 households have been covered in the study.
of the field work was conducted in February and March 2010. The FGDs were also conducted in two rounds.
Social Profile of the sample households
Main problems in data collection
Altogether 126 households have been selected in the sample. It consists of 26.19% Scheduled Castes (SC), 48.41% Other Backward Castes (OBC), 7.94% Muslims and 17.46% belonging to various General communities. All the social groups have different caste groups included in the classification. The state also has a classification of Mahadalits who happen to be the most deprived even amongst the SC communities.
The data collection took more time than anticipated because of non availability of respondents. The schedule was a little time consuming. In number of cases the responses were very generic. Besides, it is normal in villages for other persons to intervene in the data collection process. But these issues were partly contained and resolved.
Limitations of the study
Personnel for the study
The study is primarily qualitative in nature. As the data collected has been based on purposive sampling, the estimates cannot be projected for the population under the study. The conclusions therefore are primarily indicators or pointers and they should be taken in that spirit.
The field work was primarily conducted under the supervision of two very experienced researchers, one belonging to the academic field and the other to an NGO. The data was collected through specially trained investigators. Women facilitators were specifically engaged for FGDs and interview with the female headed households.
It is also important to note here that the sample results are being presented for the social groups aggregated for all villages together, because the sample size varies for the villages, and it is very small to make any inference on village wise differences. Besides, during the FGDs it was clearly revealed that there is not much difference between the villages in terms of all the characteristics under study.
Period of data collection The first round of data was collected during last week of December 2009. Due to intense cold during whole of January and partly February, the field work was discontinued; the rest
Fig. 1 location of sample blocks darker areas in the map below indicate flood prone zones
Table 1 list of villages in the sample Village
10 30 23
Table 2 social profile of sample household Total
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Socio economic and demographic background of the sample villages and vulnerability context The villages selected in the study have been selected from three different spatial locations facing the similar problems of flood and have been prone to the disaster for a long time. While the villages share common problems, each has their own specific experiences of flood and climate change. A brief description of the sample villages and the experience of the flood are given below. The villages are of different sizes. The study area has one of the best alluvial soils, and it has been highly productive.
by upper castes landlords from a nearby village. Nayatola Murahi, numerically dominated by Yadavs happens to be a hamlet resettled twice; first after the floods of 1954, then in 2007. The latter flood was caused by the breach in Bagmati embankment; the hamlet was rebuilt by Adithi (a local NGO partner) with support of Oxfam. Villages have sustained varying degrees of damage caused by the flood and broken embankments. In two villages, namely Nayatola Murahi Bas and Mahati Chandauli, land has been filled up by sand after the breach in Bagmati during 2007 floods. Considerable area has been degraded in these villages. In Basghatta and Sasauli, moins (large erosion ditches) are created due to floods every year. Nothing grows in these fields. Karhara is protected by an embankment, but the seepage from the embankments has caused water logging in almost 100 acres of land. Incidentally, Karhara has been one of the places of agitation against the embankments. Mointola is a village which was settled by the erstwhile landlords. The village is at a lower level, vulnerable to floods every year.
The villages in the sample are all multi-caste but have varying dominant castes. The dominant castes are primarily those who own the land, and hold positions of power. In the majority of villages in the sample, the dominant caste is the upper caste but the name of caste varies. For example, while Basghatta is dominated by Rajputs, Mahati Chandauli is dominated by Bhumihars, and Chunni and Karhara by Brahmins. The village Sasauli is dominated by Muslims. While the predominant community in Mointola happens to be numerically dominated by lower caste Kurmis, the land is owned Table 3 Characteristics of Sample Villages.
Brahmins, Mandal, Khatwe, Nai-Hazam, Teli-Sahu, Badhai, Dom
Kurmis, Koiri, Malah, Paswan, Khatwe, Chamar
Brahmins, Paswan, Mushar, Dhobi, Mochi, Mandal, Badhai, Yadav, Khatwe, Nai, Koiri, Poddar, Malah, Rajput, Kayasth, Muslim
Yadavs, Muslim, Paswan, Chamar
Bhumihars, Mandal, Yadav, Sahu, Teli, Sudhi, Kuswaha, Koiri, Brahmins, Paswan, Dusadh, Tatma, Dom, Chamar
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Special Feature Devastated by floods in 1930s, controlled after the construction of a barrage in Bhimnagar Nepal. Floods resumed in 1987 due to breach in Kamla Balan village. Chunni has high education levels and social capital. Village formed in Moin created by flood waters, settled by Zamindars, land controlled by outside Zamindars, was cremation ground for Hindus Village within two embankments. Villagers are supposed to be rehabilitated in Bakhrain, but that has not yet happened. Site of agitation against the embankments during late 1950s. Waterlogged area. Rehabilitated village of Nanaura, washed out in 1954 flood. Again affected in 2007, resettled by Adithi (Oxfam). Very close to western embankment of Bagmati river. Heavy sand siltation on agricultural land. Problem of rain water logging. Under threat by Manushmara and Bagmati rivers; sand siltation in agricultural field caused heavy loss to agriculture. Many mango orchards dried.
Flood History 1930 onwards, brief lull after 1959, floods resumed since 1987 1987, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2009 1934, 1954 breach in embankment in 1962-63. Almost every year since 1966,
1954, 1964, 1975, 1984, 2002, 2004 and 2007.
1954, 1964, 1975,1984, 2002, major flood in 2004
Castes Rajputs, Koiri, Kalwar, Kuhar, Tatma, Mallah, Chamar, Nunia, Badhai, Kahar, Teli, Kanu, Lohar, Hazam, Muslims, Paswan, Dhobi Muslims, Sekh, Dhunia, Julaha, Kuraisi, Mushar, Sahu, Dusadh, Dhobi
Threatened by Lakhandei and Bagmati. Large area of agricultural land converted to deep water logged erosion ditches
Major flood in 2006. Water logged till December
Under threat by Lakhandei and Bagmati rivers. 3 to 4 months water stagnation in farm land almost every year.
Floods every year. Recent major flood in 2004.
Demographic features of the sample villages As per the Census 2001, the villages chosen for the study vary in terms of population, literacy, SC population, Workforce Participation Rates (WPR), Main Worker as proportion of Population (MW/POP), and Marginal workers as proportion of Total Workers (MW/TW).
• The percentage of SC population is low in Balha and Mehti Chandauli and it is highest in Sisauli followed by Karhara. • The literacy rates are quite low. The literacy rates very low in Karhara and Pachnaur is low. It happens to be highest in Chunni. The literacy rates are quite low for the villages dominated by the SCs.
Mehti Pachnaur Chunni Karhara Balha Sisauli Basghatta
598 1931 336 1091 884 492 345
4.5 9.6 9.2 19.6 1.97 38.3 11.7
The major characteristics of the sample population villages are given in table 4.
Table 4 Major Characteristics of the Sample Population Villages
46.1 27.8 64.1 21.4 45.9 36.6 36.1
32.3 33.9 38.3 38.0 28.5 25.7 25.2
29.6 27.7 25.2 17.4 20.7 25.4 23.3
8.3 18.3 34.7 54.3 27.6 1.30 7.6
Demographic features of the sample population
Sample size Sex ratio Average size
As stated earlier, the total number of sample household selected for the study has been 126 consisting of 26.2% of SCs, 48.4% of OBCs, 7.9% of Muslims and 17.5% belonging to the General caste. It is important to note that the sex ratio is lowest for the SC population, standing at 839.
Literacy % Male Literacy % Female
33 839 6.2 43.9 30.9
OBC 61 900 6.3 69.5 37.4
10 1029 7.1 79.8 77.4
22 985 6.0 100 97
Table 5 Demographic features of the Sample population
• The work force participation ratio varies from 25.64% to 38% in the villages. This indicates that around three to four dependants for every earner in the village.
126 908 6.3
landlords and intermediaries, whose main intention was to extract maximum rent, either in cash or in kind, from tenants. Some of the issues that dominated during the pre independence period - security of tenures, rent amounts, eviction from land - have continued since. The landlords controlled land, employment opportunities, market for produce, ruthlessly extracted the surplus making the peasants, tenants and the sharecroppers in perpetual bondage and debt even for food and other essential needs. There had been system of attached farm labour which was kept under subjugation through the mechanism of credit. The scheduled caste communities in the area have been some of the most exploited victims of these processes. This had resulted in considerable dehumanization of these communities. In almost all the villages of the sample area, the percentage of landless and the marginal farmers
Land Distribution of Households, and Land Relationship All the villages have semi feudal land relations. The relations are now changing, but the control is still formidable. The semi feudal relationship is often regarded as one of the major constraint in the transformation of agriculture. The overwhelming majority of farmers belonged to marginal and landless category. The ownership and control of land has been highly concentrated in the hands of a small group of
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Table 6 Land distributions of sample households (Percentage of Households)
Landless less than 0.5 0.5 to 1 1 to 2
94 6 0 0
31 21 11 18
50 20 20 0
9 0 5 32
45.2 13.5 7.9 14.3
2 to 5 5 to 10 more than 10 Total HH Sample Total land Land per HH
7 11 0 100 61 72.5 1.2
10 0 0 100 10 31.3 3.13
14 27 14 100 22 102.8 4.7
6.3 10.3 2.4 100.0 126 207.9 1.65
100 33 1.3 0.04
Agriculture Wage labour Govt. Job Private job Artisan Business Others
2.0 90.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 3.9 3.9
17.5 63.1 1.0 1.9 4.9 5.8 5.8
10.5 31.6 5.3 5.3 26.3 21.1 0.0
50.0 8.3 12.5 12.5 0.0 0.0 16.7
16.8 60.4 2.5 3.0 5.1 6.1 6.1
Occupational Changes in the sample villages The villages under study have witnessed changes in the land relations, and also in the occupational structure for both men and women in different community categories. The area also has higher population density. The riskiness of farming has been increasing in the flood prone zones primarily because of erraticity in rainfalls and the frequent floods. Agricultural development has been retarded, sharecropping being one of the important reasons. The growth of the non farm sector has also been very slow. Land reforms progress has been very tardy in the state. Newer opportunities in the service sector, agricultural growth and industrial development in states like Punjab and Haryana, were important reasons for migration out of the region. Migration from the area has been due to both the pull and the push factors. The changes can be visualized in the following table.
It is important to note that land per household is highest for the General caste which works out to be 4.67 acres, for the OBCs 1.19 acres and for the Muslims 3.13 acres. It was lowest for the 0.04 acres only.
Occupational Changes in Women
Occupation of the Sample Households
Women, like in other areas, are primarily casual workers and are engaged in unpaid work. As the occupation and the livelihood support systems have changed, the nature and activity of women have also changed. However in the case of the general caste, the women continue to be primarily housewives, except for a few who have been able to take some of the regular employment. Similarly in some of the backward caste community, women do not work outside but in their fields. In the case of SC women however, they continue to work as agricultural labour. With increased migration of men, the burden of work of women has increased. Women of other communities are now managing the field but the major decisions of farming are still taken by men. During the FGDs with the women it was very clear that the women continued to face the age old discriminations. In absence of male members for a longer period, they are more vulnerable to the predatory elements in the villages. Besides, they have been forced to work at low wages, and sometimes forced to accept food or seed credit instead of cash payment. The changes are tabulated below.
The majority of the households have multiple sources of livelihood. The landless and the marginal landholders depend on wage work and farming primarily on leased land. It is worth mentioning here that the large majority of the landless belong to the SC and extremely backward communities who have faced multiple historical exclusions and deprivations. Almost 60.4% of the sample household workers were engaged as wage workers both in agriculture and in the informal sector when they migrated. It is important to note the caste wise differences in occupation, with upper castes reporting larger percentages for agriculture, Government services and private jobs, Muslims reporting relatively high engagement as artisans and businesspeople. Most of the work was outside the village, for migrant workers. In the case of OBCs, although they depend largely on wage labour, farming emerged as the second most frequent occupation.
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It is important to note here that the extremely backward communities amongst the OBCs do not own land. The other farming communities also under the OBC some own land.
Table 7 Occupation distributions of the sample workers
are noticeably high. The majority of these farmers belong to various SC and extremely backward groups. This, coupled with uncertainties of weather, has been forcing the peasants to borrow from the money lenders at a very high cost.
Table 8 Occupational Characteristics of Sample Villages
Earlier Occupation (20-25 years back)
Landlords, Big Farmers
Land leased out, self cultivation by permanent or attached labour, fewer absentee landlords, greater control of leased land, labour and capital (loan)
Small, Marginal Farmers
Leased in land, self cultivation, less wage labour
Depended on other community, mainly traditional work
Landless Cultivators, Workers
Depended on wage work, attached labour, forced labour, Farming on leased in land
Changes in Occupation Pattern More absentee landlords, more in service or contract jobs, decreasing social control, more land leased out on fixed rent than self cultivation, urban base has increased, land is shifting to middle farmers, fall in attached labour More land transfer to middle farmers, leased in land, migration by youth, feminization of agriculture Move to migration, more opportunity in urban areas, feminization of work, lesser community participation More migration of youth, control of upper castes diminishing but the bondage for women and the aged continues, leased in land, continue to depend on others
Table 9 Occupational Changes in Women
Earlier (15 - 20 years back)
Changes in Occupation Pattern
Landlords, Big Farmers
Household work, Service
Small, Marginal Farmers Artisan Group
Landless cultivators, wage labourers
Household work, collecting fuel, making cow dung cakes, work on own farm, tending of cattle, very little work on others farm Household work, collecting fuel, making cow dung cakes, work on own farm Collecting fodder, grazing, cattle care, collecting fuel, making cow dung cakes, household work on own and in landlord’s house, wage work
Migration as Livelihood Opportunity
Work load has increased due to increased migration of men, feminization of agriculture Work load has increased due to increased migration of men, increase in responsibility Marginal increase in wages , Feminization of agriculture. No overall changes in social status, wage work, fluctuating work, decrease in wage work in rainy and winter seasons and flood years
• Almost 62% families reported migration. In the case of the SC and OBC, the percentage of the families migrating is 66.7% and 69% respectively. It is almost 70% for the Muslim community. But in the case of the general community it is around 20% as they have been primarily able to get opportunities nearby.
Migration is increasingly becoming livelihood support option for the sample households. The data from the sample clearly indicates that there has been increase in migration in recent times.
• Almost 2/3rd of the migrant were below the age of 25, indicating that they do not see much options in the village.
Here are some of the features of migration in the sample families:
• Around 45 % of the migration has been in last five years. • Migration is mainly to the informal sector where the wage rates are not very high, there is maintenance cost and therefore the savings are not substantial which can help in farming. • Approximately, 51 % of the migrants worked as labour performing different kinds of work that includes rickshaw pulling, load carrying, other works and 16.25 % of the workers work in the fields primarily in Punjab. Around, 1/3rd of the migrants do variety of works in the urban areas.
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Experience of natural disasters in the sample villages The villages in the sample area have a long history of floods that can be traced back to the 1930s. The floods, therefore, have been the major concern. The embankments were constructed to protect the villages which brought respite from flooding for 10-15 years, accompanied by a phase of prosperity in these villages. In recent times, however, almost all the sample villages have been severely affected by floods in 2004 and 2007.
In 1987, the village witnessed a severe flood due to breach in the embankments of Kamla Balan in the east, and Kosi in the west. Some respondents said that at the height of floods it was possible to navigate from Chunni village to Patna (the capital city of Bihar, at a distance of about 250 km) by boat. Though the flood lasted two days, it damaged the entire available infrastructure in the village. Almost all the old trees dried up. It took three or four years for the villagers to recover. Government relief reached the village after four to five years, in 1991-92. The village witnessed flood again in the year 2003, due to breakage in the Kamla river embankment, but this time the flood was not as severe.
Village: Chunni From the FGD with the villagers and the key informants in the area, it seems that the village witnessed devastating flooding of the Kosi river for the first time in 1930. Since then, the villagers of Chunni witnessed regular normal flood for a decade up to 1940. Flooding during that period was for a shorter duration, normally for two to three days. Thereafter the flood water used to recede towards the main Kosi River. Between 1940 and 1957, the villagers witnessed a spate of severe floods, the main reason for which is attributed to the change in the course of Kosi near Birpur (Nepal), from eastward direction to westward direction. The entire area continued to remain flooded for more than six months at a time. The flood caused heavy siltation on the farm land. Sandy layer brought by the flood raised the elevation of the farmland substantially, damaging the fertility of the soil, and converting the water logged farmland into dry, sandy, forests. This change favoured the growth of wild trees, grass, shrubs, hedges and plants. In course of time, wild animals like the Nilgai, fox, pig, wolf and deer appeared in the area. Continuous heavy floods, with water standing for several months, coupled with the conversion of farm land into forest brought about a serious threat to the livelihood system of the villagers in the locality. The villagers who were unable to cope migrated to different places; many permanently. This was the political regime of the then Congress leader Lalit Narayan Mishra. To save the area and people from the onslaughts of Kosi flood, Mr. Mishra took the initiative to inaugurate the foundation of a barrage at Bhimnagar (Nepal) by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in the year 1954.
In course of time, road links and communications were developed, and infrastructure like electricity, Post Office, educational and health institutions came up. There was a huge progress in the village in the field of education and human resource development. Today it is one of the highly literate villages in the area. Despite this, the villagers are worried of the whims of the rivers Kosi and Kamla Balan. They are dissatisfied with the measures taken by the government to protect them from the onslaughts of flood. Flooding has been the regular feature of the village even in recent years but it has not affected the habitation in the village. Most unexpectedly, the area has not seen floods for last twothree years, resulting in the loss of moisture in the soil. This is affecting the agriculture practices very badly as there is no provision (like assured irrigation) to cope with this situation.
Village: Moin Tola The old saying goes that about four decades ago this area was a cremation ground for the Hindus living in the nearby villages. The 1934 flood transformed the landscape of the area; the moins (large flood-erosion ditches) near the cremation ground were demolished, and the fish being cultivated by the landlords in those moins escaped with the flood water. The area was under the control of the then Zaminder of Sakri. The first two persons to settle in this village were Mr. Jibachh Mahto from village Kharibanka, and Mr. Lalbihari Sahini from Salampur, who were both deputed as farm managers. In course of time people from other villagers arrived and settled there permanently. Though the elders of the community were not clear about the flood history of the region, discussions with the villagers yielded some information about the damage caused by recent floods. Interviewees estimated that during every flood about 150 acres of farmland, roads and embankments were destroyed.
Thus, for eighteen between 1940 and 1958, the practice of cultivation in the village almost ceased, and people survived on non-farm work, like cattle rearing, fishery and boating. Since 1959, however, the villagers restarted cultivation after reclaiming forest and sandy land, especially when the course of Kosi flooding left the area and leaned towards east. 1959 to 1970 was the period of rejuvenation of farming in the village. In 1970, there was a bumper crop yield, and the villagers could feel the change in their economic position. Then the villagers started living in the village permanently with their farm operations. Oxfam India - 2011
Table 10 Moin Tola village: Reported extent of damage from flood over 10 years
for living, so the villagers were asked to evacuate from the area. According to the norms of rehabilitation, the villagers were compensated with land against land. This led to a conflict between the administration and the villagers who were opposed to the Governmentâ€™s decision to construct embankments. Soon the villagers were split into two groups. Pro-government political leaders like L.N. Mishra provoked the villagers on the issue and weakened the unity of those who were agitating against resettlement. Interestingly, these pro-Government agitators were mostly from upper castes, and were interested in keeping their villages out of the two embankments. In many places, it is alleged that the rural elite class with their access to ruling politicians, succeed in carving out their villages.
Extent of Damage Flood Year
1987 2002 2004 2007 2009
Cattle 1 -
120 10 30 10 2
56 12 30 17 1
In the course of the Kosi embankment conflict, thousands of satyagrahi (peaceful agitators) were sent to jail, while the Government went ahead with its original plan. On the question of rehabilitation of those likely to be trapped within the two embankments - about 1.2 to 1.3 million people from 380 villages covering the districts of Darbhanga, Madhubani, Saharsa and Supaul - the Government offered package so that they could live elsewhere and manage their farm lands.
On the basis of discussions with different sections of people in the village especially among the aged, it was learnt that the village was relatively safe from Kosi flood before 1934, and they had peaceful life with their farm-based livelihood. The population of the village in 1934 was almost equal to what it is today. The 1934 Kosi flood not only transformed the entire map of the region including this village, making it a permanently flood-prone region, but also compelled the villagers to change their livelihood pattern from farm-based to non-farm based allied activities like cattle rearing. The villagers started living on the flood water in temporary huts made of bamboo, like those of fishermen who often live on stagnant water. Most years, the flood lasted more than six months from late August to early February, and the farmlands remained waterlogged for almost whole year. This has destroyed the natural vegetation - fruit trees in the orchards, groves with wild trees or plants, along with their flora and fauna. In 1947 a malaria epidemic broke out in the village causing the death of 1,100 individuals. Many villagers migrated, some permanently, to distant places like Dharampur, Biratnagar, Sitamarhi and different places in West Bengal.
The villagers of Karhara were provided land in the nearby Bhakrain village outside the embankment, but they did not move. The reason for this, they said, was that the new site was located in an unsafe, unsecured isolated place, and that it was difficult for them to mange cultivation from so far away. At present the area is under the custody Kosi Project of the state government. It is learnt that such lands are being allotted to the land-poor and flood devastated families. The villagers reported that some part of that land is still under forest cover and the contractors, in connivance with the Government officials, get free access to exploit available resources. In course of time, the Government ignored the matter, and the villagers continued to live in their original habitations. For 13 year (1954 â€“ 1966), the villagers of Karhara yielded bumper crops and did not witness any severe flood. The tributary of Kosi was flowing very close to the west bank of the village in a north-south direction.
After independence, villagers received some relief during floods, in the form of food packets consisting of chura (flattened rice), gur (jaggery), chana (Chick peas), khajur (dates), milk powder and medicines. This was how people survived, having almost stopped cultivation for 20 years between 1934 and 1954.
In the year 1962-63, a spur was constructed near the village in east-west direction cutting across the village to control the flood water. On the midnight of July 17, the Kosi tributary started overflowing flowing across the spur and washed away the entire southern part of the village. Inhabitants somehow managed to escape, using as many as 17 boats brought from the nearby villages, but they could not protect their belongings. The damage was such that it was almost impossible for the villagers to identify their original house sites when they returned - several ditches were found where their homes stood earlier. The villagers had to resettle.
The village witnessed another severe flood in 1953 and 1954, when the river Kosi dumped huge quantity of sandy soil into the area, raising the land substantially higher. Though this was also a difficult situation for the villagers to cope with - it was a struggle to prepare the soil for cultivation - people felt the situation was marginally better than before. Within a decade the villagers resumed their normal living and started cultivating crops like paddy, jute, and mung (pulses). With the revival of agriculture, the construction of east and west Kosi embankments were taken up by the Government, with a view to protect the flood-prone villages. The Karhara village fell within two embankments and was adjudged unsafe
Originally Karhara village had only four hamlets. After the 1966 flood, this number increased to 18. In the interest of land-poor families, the Government tried to reallocate the waterlogged farm land, but this effort was thwarted by legal
Oxfam India - 2011
The Changing Nature of Floods
protests launched by the big landowners. The villagers say that they have recovered after 1966 flood to a great extent, and since then they have witnessed floods almost every year.
During the FGDs the following points emerged regarding the changing nature of flood
Village: Mahati Chandauli
â€˘ Earlier the flood time was almost predictable, expected a couple of times every decade. The flood water used to come slowly and deposit silt which was useful for the fields. Water remained for a maximum of 15 days, and then drained back to the river. Both Kharif and Rabi (Monsoon and Spring crops) could be cultivated.
The earliest memory of floods in the village is of 1954. Then the village was ravaged by floods in 1975. But after the embankment was constructed, the villages had been saved from floods for about 15-20 years. The area yielded good crop till the floods started again. The frequency of floods has now increased, with incidents in 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2007.
â€˘ Now floods are unpredictable, can come any time when there is rain in the catchment area in terai of Nepal and barrages are opened without notice. Floods can occur a number of times, are often sudden and of high severity. The flood now brings sand that destroys farmlands and villages. This has also been due to the fluctuations in the rainfall.
2004 saw the worst of the recent incidents, caused by a breach in the embankment. The whole of Belsund area was badly affected. As the water gushed at high speed from the breached point, it spread sand over large areas, rendering the land infertile. There was a general opinion that the siltation in the river bed resulted in more severe floods, and water to recede much more slowly. No de-silting operations on one hand, and the raising of the height of the embankments on the other hand have both contributed to the frequency and severity of the floods. Another problem faced by the villagers is the release of the effluents of Riga sugar Mill in Manushmara damaging the land near the rivulets.
â€˘ The embankments have been useful in protecting the villages for period of 10-15 years, but after that breaches have wreaked havoc in the sample villages. It has also led to water logging because water cannot drain back to the river, which has risen in level over time because of siltation.
Impact of Floods
Although the village faced flood every year, it witnessed the major floods in the year 1954, 1975 and 2004. The villagers faced water logging mainly due to flood from Lakhandeye river. Most of the agricultural land remains water logged till December end, which is why the farmers used to harvest only rabi and garma crop (lower yield spring and summer harvests). Before 1970s, floods were characterised by shorter periods and less damage, but later they caused heavy sand siltation in agricultural land. Over time almost all the old trees have dried up. Infrastructure of the village has been damaged frequently.
Floods are recurring phenomenon in the area. The sample households gave a number of impacts of the recurring floods. Though impacts and the coping mechanisms have variations between different caste and economic groups, overall, the loss of cultivation related jobs and food security is pronounced. During the floods cultivation operations like weeding and transplanting are reduced. After the floods harvesting operations are reduced if the Kharif crops are damaged.
Table 11 Perceived Impacts of flood on the sample households
Impact Lack of food Loss of employment Increased poverty Increased debt Crop loss Total HH
Oxfam India - 2011
% HH 39.8 63.9 21.7 15 25.6 126
Climate change: experiences and impact
Climate change was studied with both the secondary data and the primary data mainly through the FGDs. The secondary data analysis clearly reveals that for all the weeks under study the coefficient of variation is very high indicating a highly fluctuating climatic condition. The variability is very high for the minimum and maximum temperatures as well as the rainfall. This has implications for the livelihood support system, particularly the farming which has been discussed below. The rainfall analysis of three districts under the study clearly indicates the fluctuations in the rainfall during the monsoon months for the period 2005-2009
Table 13 Percentage departure from the normal rainfall in Sitamarhi
In Muzaffarpur during 2005, there was deficiency of rainfall all through the monsoon months. During 2006, it was above average for three months and below average in rest of the months. During 2007, it was heavy rains in almost all the months. During 2008, for the first four months rainfall far exceeded normal averages but it was below average in October. During 2009, it was deficient rainfalls in all the months.
In Madhubani, rainfall has been as erratic, as shown in the table below.
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
-88 108.5 0 315 19.2
-35 -63 104 7 -17
141 -28 71 69 -11
-75 126 168 -11 -70
-99 -94 -49 3 -91
Year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Table 12 Percentage departure from the normal rainfall in Muzaffarpur
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Table 14 Percentage departure from the normal rainfall in Madhubani
However, in one village the study team was told that there has been a good paddy crop after 12 years; the shortfall in rain in one cycle proved beneficial, the crop might otherwise have been damaged by excessive rains.
JUN -37 -74 -40 -64 -74
JUL -47 -30 46 8 25
AUG 85 -71 87 -21 7
SEP -55 88 113 -45 -66
OCT -98 -90 -31 15 -31
Some of the important trends are worth noticing
-11 52 5 137 -57
14 8 105 103 -38
-10 -56 134 19 -6
-66 63 213 24 -26
-26 -64 246 -25 0
• Although the districts are contiguous, the deviation figures vary greatly between the districts. The deviations are very high for October rains which are very crucial for paddy as well for the Rabi season, as it gives soil moisture. • The rainfall in 2007 was the highest in all the districts causing wide ranging floods and damages. • June rainfall in Madhubani was far below the average in all years, while in Sitamarhi and Muzaffarpur it was once and twice respectively.
Sitamarhi too has the same trend of erratic rainfall in the monsoon months. In 2005, August rainfall was 141% above normal but in other months there were severe shortfalls. In 2006, rainfall in June and September was almost double the normal, in other months it was deficient. In 2007, rainfall greatly exceeded averages July through September, and then was almost half of what was expected in October. In June 2008, the rains were almost thrice as much as normal. Rainfall was almost normal in June 2009, but there were deficiencies in all the other months.
• The erraticity of rainfall is very high. In different months both the excess rainfall and the deficient rainfall are very severe, all exceeding almost by more than 50%. Double the average rainfall cripples normal life, creating water logging in the villages and overflows from the rivers. The siltation in the river beds increases the time water takes to drain out. Water logging not only affects Kharif crops, it also engenders diseases - both for human beings and the animals.
Oxfam India - 2011
Climate Change Perception of the Communities
The sample area also has well informed people who are acquainted with the global warming scenario and non sustainable nature of development. In one village, some of them were also discussing the Copenhagen summit and the issues involved. The important thing was that the people in the area could draw connections between the changes and the issues. The respondents also held the Governments of India and Nepal responsible for causing the problems of recurrent floods.
All interviewees - farmers, women, officers - responded to whether they feel that there has been any change in the climate in the recent years. The respondents feel they have been experiencing climate change over the last decade, and more acutely over the last five to six years.
Impacts of Climate Change
Citing an example, one man of 53 years said that this winter he felt the cold was similar to what he has been feeling in Amarnath (religious site in Jammu-Kashmir) in August-September for last couple of years. Villagers spoke of the following climate change experiences over the past few years:
According to the villagers, climate change has been affecting their livelihood and living environment very badly. The vulnerable families are relatively less equipped with the technical know-how and quality of human resource development, so they find climate change more difficult to cope with.
• Unpredictable flood/drought cycles in nature • Increased possibility flood and draughts.
Impact of Climate Change on Cropping Pattern
• Abrupt change in the timetable of monsoon winds • Summers longer and hotter than a decade back • Winters shorter but colder than a decade back
The patterns of change and adaptability have varied between villages but some of the trends have been similar. It is worth mentioning that new varieties of many crops - especially rice, maize and wheat – that were around since the mid 1970s, are now getting introduced in the area. The farmers are not only trying to adapt but also trying to make the best use of resources. Almost 1/3rd of the total area under cultivation, a considerable part of this is leased-in land.
Summer The villagers confirmed that they have been witnessing climate change in summer season in the form of unbearable rise in the day temperature, more dryness in the air, almost no incidence of storms or thundershowers.
The big farmers mentioned the following constraints other than climate change making farming unviable
The villagers registered their serious concern over the change in climate in rainy season. Farming, based on the rhythm of rainy season, has been the main source of livelihood for as long as anyone can think of. Earlier there was perceptible natural rhythm, but in last few years it seems to have been agonisingly unpredictable. The rainfall has been very erratic during the monsoon – often either too much or too little.
• Rising wages of agricultural workers both for males and females: for example, the wages for harvesting has increased from 1 bundle (of grain) for 16 bundles harvested to 1 for 12 bundles. Cash wages are also higher. The bigger farmers have been used to low wages – almost free labour – by exploiting SC communities; a trend which is now changing with rise in migration. Even now, wages being paid is far below the prescribed minimum wages, and one those paid under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) for the poor households.
Winter The villagers of Chunni say that they experience climate change in the delay in the arrival of winter, unpredictable fluctuations of temperature and prolonged cold wave. They categorically mentioned that the cold wave this year (2009-10) was unprecedented.
Possible reasons for Climate Change
• The cost of cultivation, particularly fertilisers, insecticides and seeds, is rising. The cost of irrigation is an additional cost due to the failing rains at crucial times, especially for wheat.
The majority of the respondents felt that climate change was primarily caused by unsustainable use of resources. The summary of their thoughts on the matter is that ‘sins of people have increased, people have become greedier. In their greed they have destroyed forest, are using new varieties of chemical fertilisers; big industries are coming up, more cars and tractors are used, and all this has resulted into the wrath of Gods. Gods are punishing the people for their misdeeds.’
• The farmers leasing out land feel that the lessees are now becoming dishonest, and supervision in the case of 50:50 sharing is becoming difficult. Some of lessors now prefer fixed rents, which does not suit the lessees, as the risk is not shared equally. There is now a trend of sharing inputs in the case of cash crops like potato, vegetables and even wheat, as it is in the interest of both the landowners and the tenant farmers.
Oxfam India - 2011
Table 15 Climate Change and its Impact on Farming as perceived by communities
Impact on Farming
Duration was October to 1st week of March. Kartik to Falgun (local months)
Duration of winter has decreased, Late arrival of winter, Winter in Feb/Mar is very intense
Cold weather affects cultivation of potato, wheat/pulses. Productivity affected during 2007 to 2009, greying of wheat due to rise in temperature in February
All months used to have rainfall, Jan/Feb/March had some rainfall
Rainfall has considerably decreased in winter
Now 4 to 5 irrigations are required for wheat; earlier 1 was sufficient. Small (poor) farmers are more affected.
Temperature used to increase slowly, there used to be winds, nights were comfortable
Summers are longer, heat is intense and air is dry, breathing is difficult, nights are not comfortable
Zaid crops (March to June) are affected due to heat, seed and seedlings do not survive
Rain for almost five months from Ashadh to Kartik, (June to October), Hatiya rain (post monsoon) was regular
Rains have become more erratic, heavy rains in some months. Monsoon is shorter with fewer rainy days. Sudden cessation of rains. Floods are more frequent
Lack of Hatiya rain affects the residual moisture in the Rabi season. Crop damage due to heavy rains and water logging. Heavy rains, especially during June, affect the seedlings. Even small scale flood in August affect the new short variety crops.
Impact on the Resource-Poor and Tenant Farmers
Changes in the Cropping Patterns The broad changes are falling crop diversity in Kharif - the area under the oil-seeds and the pulses is coming down. The area under the Kartiki rice (local variety grown in Kartik month corresponding to mid October - November) has come down because of crop losses due to heavy and uncertain rains and water logging. In villages like Chunni and Karhara even the Agahani rice (another local variety) has considerably fallen. Similarly, the area under the Bhadai maize has come down in some of the villages where there is water logging up to December in many areas.
It is important to note here that the bigger farmers are now shifting to Rabi and summer crops. This is not favourable for the marginal and poor farmers because wheat and summer paddy cultivation are becoming more capital intensive. It requires assured irrigation and modern productive inputs. Another negative change in the cropping pattern may be seen in case of pulses, oil-seeds and sugarcane. According to the land poor (marginal and small) farmers, who subsist on their meagre income from farming operations in leased-in land, cultivation has now become risky as the productivity has been falling due to climate change. On the other hand the lease rent is fixed based on prevailing market price of wheat. As the lease agreements are verbal, they cannot take their matters to seek justice from the government or any legal body, especially in case of crop failure. They are also ineligible for institutional credit, and resort to borrow from money lenders at high cost for even small farming operations. The riskiness of farming in disaster years pushes them further into a debt trap.
The farmers are now putting more emphasis on the Rabi crops particularly wheat and maize. Mung and other pulses are also cultivated in some areas. Potato has been introduced in the area during Falgun month (mid February to March) but the crop is threatened by cold waves. It is important to note here that in 2007 and 2009 at least 25% of the farmers reported loss of wheat in Karhara and Chunni villages because of the rise in temperature in first week of March. Early paddy and maize has also been attempted in some areas but the erratic initial phase of monsoon has proven to be a problem.
More Natural Threats on Farming During the FGDs it also transpired that the crops are now becoming more vulnerable to new diseases and pests. Chemical fertilisers, rising temperature combined with irregular rainfall 13
Oxfam India - 2011
debt. This is quite high. Around 91% of the SCs, 87% of OBCs, 70% of the Muslim and 40% of the General caste reported some debt. The indebtedness was highest for the SC communities in the sample area.
has changed the natural balance and control cycle. Paddy is now more vulnerable to infections because of both heavy water logging and the decrease in the number of frogs in the ecosystems.
• Two households in the sample had loans below Rs.1000. Amongst those households who had taken loans, around 26.9% had loans between Rs. 1,000-4,000, 29.9% between Rs. 4,000-10,000 and rest above Rs. 10,000. It is important to note that for about 80% of the households who had taken loans, it was below Rs. 25000. The larger loans are primarily for the marriage and social rituals.
Impacts on Mango and other trees The study area is famous for its Mango and Litchi orchards. Warm temperature is affecting the quality of the fruits which are now becoming smaller. Earlier, the timely showers would clean the mango flowers of insects, but now with less rains, mango blossoms need to be sprayed with more insecticide. A number of Sesum and other timber bearing trees have dried out, affecting the population of birds in the area. Many landless people take mango trees on contract, paying a price based on estimated harvest. The change in the production is affecting their income.
• Almost 75% of the loans had been contracted in the last four years (2005 - 2009). Around 15% of the families reported that they contracted debt because of the floods.
Impact on Occupation, Employment and Livelihood
• A third of the households who had taken a loan had done so for social functions - marriages, death and birth rites. Another one-third had taken loans for agricultural purposes. Around 15% of the HH primarily belonging to the SC and OBC families had borrowed to buy food, and almost 5% for treatment.
The adverse effects of climate change are similar for those who are dependent on farming. However, its effect on occupation, employment and livelihood are not uniform. During FGDs it was reported that loss of employment because of floods was a major problem.
• The major source of loan continues to be moneylenders. Almost 65% of the loans came from the money lenders, the rest from friends, relatives, other richer persons but on interest. The share of institutional credit was just 8%. The rate of interest varied between 3 to 6% depending on the purpose of loans taken.
The families belonging to medium farm size holders, especially belonging to higher caste categories, find cultivation an unreliable livelihood option. These families have all but abandoned self-cultivation because of labour scarcity, high wages, and the price rise of other farm inputs. The villages in Bihar have a tradition of migration. Many families were unable to subsist on local employment and used to migrate to distant destinations. Earlier the male working members would migrate occasionally during the lean agriculture season, but they would return to their village during busy ones. Change in the weather has reduced assured local employment opportunities, and thus many are staying away almost permanently.
Food Security of the households At the household level, food comes own production, grains received as wages, grains from the State entitlement (Targeted Public Distribution System), supplementary nutrition from Integrated Child Development Services, Mid Day Meals, Annapurna, as relief during the flood, and from purchase from the markets. Very few families, five of them, reported to have food insecurity throughout the year. Around 20% SC, General and Muslim households, and 28% of the OBC households reported seasonal food insecurity - especially in the flood prone months of Bhado, Aswin (rainy season -August to October) and Magh (January).
Population pressure, lack of assured livelihoods and change in the agricultural pattern have added to the already increasing migration in the area. It is basically male migration, so women’s burden in day to day management of household and other activities have been increasing.
A simple question was asked to the households - whether they were facing any food scarcity, and the months of the food insecurity. During the FGDs it transpired that there were considerable variations in the content of food in normal years as against the flood years. The consumption of pulses, for example, is reduced throughout the year in times of scarcity or during the flood years when there is loss of crops.
Indebtedness and the continuing Debt Trap Another important consequence has been the debt trap in which the households are caught due to the persistent natural disasters. The income from the farming keeps fluctuating in the normal years. The situation is relatively better but in the flood years, but people still have to borrow to meet even their food requirements.
In the sharing of food, the first preference was for children, followed by the aged and the male members of the family. Pregnant women were also given preference. The last share was for younger women. It was also revealed during the FGD that for girls are below age of 5-6 years there is no discrimination in food, but as they grow older many restrictions are put on their movements, as well as food.
Indebtedness situation of the sample household • Approximately 81.7% of the sample households had some Oxfam India - 2011
It is interesting to note that a number of SC families said that their food situation has improved. A number of families could now borrow, as some of the members are working outside and send their remittances. But approximately 40% of the households reported that the floods had caused reduction in the quantity of food. They also had to cut back on the purchase of durable goods. Fig. 2 Seasonal food insecurity amongst sample households
Number of households Vaisakha Jyaistha Asadha Sravana Bhadra Asvina Kartika Agrahayana Pausa Magha Phalguna Chaitra
(APR) (MAY) (JUN) (JUL) (AUG) (SEP) (OCT) (NOV) (DEC) (JAN) (FEB) (MAR)
of scabies was that the particular communities did not bathe or clean their clothes regularly, and remained very dirtyii. The doctor felt that the nature and severity of diseases have hardly changed; they continue to be at alarming levels. He suspected that incidences of HIV/AIDS may be on rise, due to increased migration, and women were especially vulnerable. However he could not give instances of HIV/AIDS in the area. Malnutrition and anaemia too was prevalent.
Impact on Animal Rearing One of the silent sufferers of the climate change has been the animal population. During the FGDs it was observed that the number of animals have decreased in all categories. Basically four reasons came up during the discussions, namely: increasing flood frequency causing concern for the animals that also needs to be rescued, increasing incidences of diseases, reduction in the availability of fodder especially during the flood and post flood months, and decrease in number of workers available for caring the animal.
Morbidity and Incidence of Diseases During the FGDs it was felt that the incidences of various diseases have increased due to the change in climate. The rainy season and water logging caused many diseases. People ate contaminated fish. Diarrhoea and dysentery was fairly common. The incidence of malaria had also increased. Cold and cough was another problem during the winter. In the case of children, cold, cough and fever was quite common especially for the poorer communities. During the summer skin diseases were becoming the major problem.
Earlier, the landlords or big farmers used to keep animals for work and for milk. The care of animals was possible as they had permanent, almost bonded, labour. The children of the lower caste used to be the animal tenders. With rise in enrolment in school and rising migration, availability of such labour has declined. Besides, the lower caste people also took the animals as share rearers, which contributed to their income. The SC communities for example, reared goats, which is a source of income for them.
Approximately half of the households reported malaria, diarrhoea and cold and cough. About 10% reported skin diseases. Indigestion was major complaint during the rainy season. Worm infestations were quite common in the area. Though malnutrition and anaemia amongst women and the adolescents too was common, it was quite evident during FGDs that this was not a major concern for the community.
The loss of animals over the last five years is tabulated below: Table 16a Death of animals in sample households in last 5 years
Animals Goat Ox Buffalo Cock/hen Cow Calf (buffalo) Calf (Cow) Total
A doctor at the PHC, while acknowledging climate change, felt the nature of diseases remained as it used to be 10-15 years back. He has been in service since 1982 and has worked consistently in the same area. In rainy seasons and during floods, the predominant diseases were diarrhoea and dysentery. In the post flood months, Kalazar, malaria, pneumonia, fever are frequent. In winter it was cold and cough and a few incidences of TB. During summer, scabies, skin diseases and heat strokes are common. According to him, the main cause
Number 82 32 19 16 14 8 8 179
SC, OBC communitiesâ€™ access to clean water was not discussed Oxfam India - 2011
Impact on Women
Table 16b Causes of death of animals in sample households in last 5 years
Causes of death Kado Ghas Stomach dystension Due to Disease Drowned in Flood Cold wave Throat-Choking Do not Know Excessive Heat Killed by ghost Dog Bite Total
Number 42 40 37 22 22 6 3 2 2 2 178
Before presenting women’s perspectives on the impact of climate change on their lives, including health and hygiene, it would be necessary to mention that in the study area traditional social norms are such that women across all economic and social categories are accorded lower status. The women are subject to many forms of discrimination which result in the denial of basic rights - freedom of expression, decision making in family and social matters, right to household assets especially productive ones like land and capital. Any change puts additional burden on the women and children. FGDs with a cross section of women from different villages are summarised below: • Colder days than earlier, say 5-10 years back • Hotter days than earlier • Change in the schedule of monsoon winds • Scanty or no rain in rainy season • Declining production, income and employment • More burden of household work, especially in families where the men have migrated • More difficulty in working in the field, both in self-cultivation and in wage work • Eating less • Increase in the incidence of diseases like anaemia, malnutrition and malaria • More difficulty in collecting fuel and fodder • More difficulty managing household affairs - from feeding the children and aged, to organising ceremonies, festivals and ritual, for example, for marriages or deaths • Increase in incidence of domestic and social violence against women, like dowry related torture, physical assault and sexual abuse
A considerable number of deaths have been related to flood and climate related. Both the heat and the cold waves have caused deaths. One of the major reasons of deaths of animals has been eating of mud along with the grass from the highly moist fields (Kado Ghas), after the floods. A number of deaths of animals were reported in 2007 due to contaminated fodder supplied after the floods as relief material. An interview with a veterinary doctor clearly revealed that the climate change has been affecting the animals in the area. Surra, cechera, liverfluke, Foot and Mouth Diseases have been very common. The incidence of Mastitis has also increased. The Government has the provision of immunisation of animals before flood for HS and BQ (throat choking) and for preventing FMD after the floods. The breeds of the cows are now changing. Similarly Black Bengal goat has been introduced. The local breed of cows in Sitamarhi for example, Bachaur is not being promoted but getting replaced by the newer Jersey breeds which are not adapted to local conditions. The veterinary doctor also said that the climate change is affecting the fertility and quality of milk.
On the issue of effect of climate change on fertility, women hold the view that it has been affected negatively because poor nutrition made them anaemic and weak. In response to the question on how many different kinds of work are done by women, they said: • Cleaning the household, washing clothes • Fetching drinking water • Collecting fuel and fodder • Preparing and serving food • Taking care of children and aged • Nursing of the ailing persons • Taking care of cattle • Assisting men in economic activities • Playing leading roles in organising religious functions
Table 17 Impact of climate change on animals
Changes More intense heat, duration of summer increased
Erratic rains and floods
Shorter but intense cold, more fog days
Impact Fertility of cows & buffaloes decreased, milk decreased Drowning, abandonment, more infections Fertility is reduced, rate of conception has decreased, mortality has increased
Regarding usual daily activity of an adult woman, they said that she has to do double the work done by a man. Normally a man works for 8 to 10 hours a day, compared to 18 to 19
Oxfam India - 2011
Problems and Issues of Women
hours put in by a woman. A woman’s work starts at about 3 to 4 am and continues without any break till they go to bed at 9 or 10 pm. In families where male members have migrated away, women are vulnerable to humiliation, sexual abuse or physically assault by employers or loan sharks, who are typically from the higher rural elite class. Women experience the worst of food shortage because they usually eat after serving all other members of the family; they eat less during meals, eat fewer meals, and sometimes go without meals altogether.
In depth interviews were conducted with 24 women from purposively selected women headed households. The women selected were those who were primarily managing in absence of their husbands (who have migrated away). The interviews probed the problems faced, coping mechanisms, and the method of getting remittances. The major findings are summarised below Table 18 Types of Problems
Fuel and fodder shortages force women to go farther to collect firewood, green grasses or leaves; this requires them to put extra time and energy.
Women face severe hardships defecating or urinating during flood. It is very hard to take a boat out in search of a safe place to defecate, especially during the day. Women usually go to the toilet at night. They eat less all day in order to avoid having to the toilet. This causes adverse impact on their health.
Increased work burden
Lack of money
Lack of prestige both in home /outside
Lack of food
The women are constrained to continue their usual activities through floods, cold waves or heat waves. Any break in their work schedule tends to upset the entire household, so they continue even if they feel weak, or that the situation is unbearable. For school going and adolescent girls, anxieties are intensified. For them, the impact of climate change could manifest in the following ways: • School drop outs • Burden of household work • Malnutrition from inadequate food intake • Anaemia from poor nutrition • Skin infection due to lack of access to clean water • Vaginal infection due to the lack of alternatives to maintain menstrual hygiene
Restrictions on movement in emergency
Lack of money and food
No. 9 6 4 5
% 37.5 25.0 16.7 20.8
Table 19 Methods of Coping
Method of Coping Contracting debt Reduction in food Hidden savings Other Table 20 Remittance Source
During FGDs with the Women’s Groups, it transpired that social cohesion - mutual cooperation and help during hardships, disasters or the death of an earning member - has been gradually melting down compared to earlier, when floods were infrequent. In one village, the women of the upper caste said that the floods are like ‘living in hell’. They have to cooperate with ‘the dirty and stinking women from other castes’. They have to eat less, defecate in the open in full view of people. The summers are also very difficult months; men can sleep in open, but not the women, so they have no relief from the heat even at night.
Moneylender or others account
Only after returning
In Laws’ account
It is interesting to note that almost 29.2% of the respondents said that they did not face much problem as they were living with their in-laws who supported them well. Almost 1/3rd of women spoke of increased burden of work as they did not have the support of their husbands or male members. Almost 25% of the women reported that they did not command respect both at home and outside in absence of their husbands, even the children did not listen to them. In the context of loneliness, women spoke of missing the person with whom to discuss personal, social, agricultural or financial matters. Some women said mobiles and phones made it somewhat easier to discuss things with their spouse. Medical emergency at night was mentioned as something that made women were very anxious. 17
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Climate Change and Education
Taking a loan was the major coping mechanism in the face of scarcity. However, almost 25%of the respondents said they reduced their consumption. In normal days they had two meals a day, which is sometimes reduced to one. Around 16.7 % of the respondents reported that in case of emergencies they used their hidden savings which are not known to their husbands or in-laws.
Climate change has affected the education of the children both directly and indirectly. During incessant rains, floods and heat waves, the school may be officially closed for months, affecting the children of the SC and other lower caste communities who send their children to the Government schools. On the other hand, children of many upper caste families living in or close to towns like Madhubani, Sitamarhi and Muzaffarpur, are sent to schools in nearby towns. Education of children has suffered because of increased migration. The women said that in absence of the male members it was hard to discipline children and help them in their studies. The Village Education Committees and Mata Samitis (Mothersâ€™ groups) are not functioning properly. The Mid Day Meal becomes irregular in bad weather. Ill health of children contributes to absenteeism. There continues to be considerable bias against the girl child in terms of education, especially after the primary levels. This is further aggravated by the extra burden of household work on the girl brought on by migration due to frequent floods.
Multiple sources have been used to receive money. Though the Post Office is one of the top sources, some respondents said that sometimes the post master does not tell them about the arrival of money, or delays it on some pretext. Four respondents said that money is routed through the money lender as a part of the loan terms, and the family gets an amount after the deduction of interest. Sometimes the amount of money finally going to the household depends on the kindness the money lender.
Oxfam India - 2011
Climate change and disaster management: state interventions, perspectives and preparedness There has been growing realisation in the state that agriculture and livelihood is highly vulnerable to a number of risks; fluctuations in rainfall and temperature, hailstorms, cyclones, floods, and the climate change that is being witnessed since the last decade or so. The recent floods of 2007 and Kosi floods during 2008 has forced the Government to take a fresh look at strategies urgently required for reduction in chronic poverty. These risks are not new, but the dimensions of the risk are changing. They are aggravated because of the absence of mitigation measures, price fluctuations of agricultural produce, rising costs of inputs, continuing semi feudal land relations, weak rural infrastructure, imperfect interlocked markets, and the lack of access to financial services like credit and insurance. The Plan and Vision documents of the state clearly reflect the concerns of the Government.
• Initiation of flagship programmes like MGNREGS needed for both flood mitigation, preparedness, post flood rehabilitation through wage based employment • NRHM for health preparedness and management during and after the floods • SC orders on food rights and ICDS, food coupons • Total Sanitation campaign (TSC)
District Level Disaster Management Structures The district level disaster management structures are functional, which is true for all the sample districts. District Disaster Committee chaired by the DM is functional. The committees have been conducting various flood preparedness programs that include trainings on boating, swimming, first aid, rescue, camp management, sanitation and water treatment. However the primary role of these committees continues to be distribution of relief material.
It is important to note here that both at home and internationally, frequent natural disasters are attributed primarily to Climate Change. There has been a change in the perception at all levels, including the UN bodies, international funding agencies, Union and State Governments.
Several orientation/training programmes are being undertaken by this office to raise community awareness on earthquakes, and to empower them to mitigate the problem on their own. For example 25 youths from each block have been provided masonry training focussing on earthquake safe design of the houses. There has been considerable participation of NGO sector in the process. • District committees in place. Trainings on boating, swimming, first aid, rescue, camp management, sanitation and water treatment have been conducted in all the districts • Rallies and awareness camps have been regularly conducted at the district levels • The respondents in different sample were almost unanimous in their opinion that the 2007 Flood disaster relief was better planned and executed.
There has also been a change in the approach from disaster relief to preparedness. The Govt. of Bihar (GOB) has conducted an exercise to identify the most vulnerable districts based on the data of 1986-2006, and taken measures for natural disaster mitigation. A policy was formulated and institutional framework from State levels to village levels has been planned. Relief work is the short term crisis mitigation strategy, while flood control measures like construction of embankments have been adopted for the long term. It is important note here that under the Govt. of India - UNDP supported Bihar Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Programme, there was important provision for building up village based skill sets - people’s committees, village level plans, trained search and rescue, first aid, and other village level task forces - to anticipate and face disasters before outside support reaches.
Problems at the District Level Management • District level functioning continues to be ad hoc, with Relief being the primary focus. • Trainings are more like events, without much advance planning • Rather than long term strategies in the light of Climate Change, the approach continues to focus on disaster management and Relief.
State Interventions: Direct and Indirect • There has been an important institutional mechanism that has been adopted in the state from State level, District levels, and Block levels to village levels. • More emphasis on preparedness than relief • Emphasis on close cooperation between Government and NGOs, Civil society, Panchayat functionaries and peoples organisations
Institutional Arrangements at Block and Village Levels Structures at the Block and Village levels are not up to the mark. Although they have been constituted, the Village Disaster Management Committees are not functional. 19
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It was a daunting task to meet the Block officials during the field work. They seemed to be in the hard to reach category. During the discussions with the officials it was revealed that there was considerable lack of personnel at the Block levels. Each Block Development Office (BDO) had charge of two Blocks. Block Agricultural officers were not in place, so the existing officers seemed overburdened and had no time to plan for disaster mitigation.
• Local varieties of crops are disappearing, being replaced by High Yielding Varieties. • Cultivation is becoming capital intensive due to increase in use of modern farm inputs like chemical fertilisers, pesticides and weedicides. New pests and weeds are prevalent • Scarcity of farm labour due to increase in the increase in migration • All these taken together affecting the livelihood of the community villagers adversely • And last but not the least climate change has been responsible for social tension and conflicts.
Although all of them agreed that the climate was changing and mitigation efforts were required, there was sense of lack of sensitisation. The preparedness of the agriculture department and extension services in the villages were far from satisfactory. The farmers depended primarily on the seed traders for information on the newer varieties. It was evident that the farmers had little or no access to the KVKs (Krishi Vigyan Kendras - Agricultural Science Units) or the ATMA (Agricultural Technology Management Agency).
It was noted that some of the BDOs were promoted to the post of Block Agriculture Officers as recently as January 2010. They did not have much idea of the basic programs and the schemes because they had not yet had the opportunity to get trained.
It was clear that though they were exposed to the needs of the preparedness and the planning, PRI functionaries and the Block officials regarded relief as the dominant task. Functionaries brought up the need for convergence of programs and the coordination of different departments. The all agreed that raising levels of tube wells, latrines and the homesteads were all very important.
Functioning of the State Entitlements State entitlements can be an important instrument for coping with climate change, and mitigating the impacts of disaster, especially for the most poor, aged and physically challenged, and women belonging to poor communities. These entitlements include food and nutrition support schemes like TPDS, MDM, Annapurna, NOAPS, ICDS, support for safe motherhood - JSY, housing support to the poorest in IAY, and employment guarantee MGNREGS. In this study the functioning of TPDS, MGNREGS and ICDS was observed in the villages. During the FGDs it was revealed that the MDM scheme was not very regular as the schools remained closed for long periods.
The Officials’ Perspectives on Climate Change The Government officials said that they have also been experiencing climate change that has been affecting the life and livelihood of the people. One of the BDOs said he has been experiencing climate change for last 10 - 15 years, but the changes - in schedule of monsoon rain, abnormal fluctuations in the seasonal temperature - has been most pronounced in last 2 -3 years. He felt that such an abrupt change has been responsible for transforming the entire physical environment, affecting the lives of all living creatures including humans, very adversely. Many officials mentioned the abject living conditions of the rural poor who still depend heavily on the nature, and observed that climate change has threatened their nature-based livelihood support system, resulting in increased migration and incidence of hunger/poverty. The officials’ observations on climate change are summarised below: • Incidence of diseases like blood pressure, diarrhoea, diabetes, mental stress • Life Expectancy is decreasing • A few tree species have been drying up • Surface water sources are drying up • Level of ground water is going down • Irrigation is becoming costlier • Cropping pattern has been changing; summer crops have declined substantially Oxfam India - 2011
Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) TPDS entitlements include subsidised grains to Below Poverty Line (BPL) and Antyodaya families (Antyodaya is Govt. scheme to reach the poorer among BPL). During the survey it was revealed that while almost 3/4th of the sample families had BPL cards, only half of the very poorest families also had Antyodaya cards. It is worth mentioning that Antyodaya gives an entitlement of 35 Kgs of grains at Rs. 2/- per Kg for wheat and Rs. 3/- per Kg for rice. The following facts emerged in the survey: • Almost 86% of the card holders said that they received grains form the PDS shops. • The supply of grains was very irregular. Most years they received grains for only 4-5 months • The full quota of 35 Kgs is not supplied, normally only 25 Kgs are given • Most of the shops opened once or twice in a month, and remained closed during the rainy season or flood • The dealer charged higher price from both the BPL and Antyodaya card holders 20
• Ration coupons were not distributed properly • The shops are located in the main tolas, and most of the shops belong to powerful people in the villages. They sometimes threaten the card holders. The grievance redressal mechanism was very poor. • At times the quality of grains given is very poor
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)
lose the economic control which has been a continued source of exploitation through interlocking of markets getting free labour, high rate of interest and continuing with unjust leasing out practices.
MGNREGS is an entitlement for employment giving the right of 100 days of manual work to the registered families on demand. Important activities undertaken under the program include flood protection & mitigation and soil conservation. Improvement in the land of BPL and SC families has also been envisaged.
Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)
In majority of the villages MGNREGS work has not been executed. Some marginal work on roads, soil conservation, plantation or pond digging has been done in a few villages. Some work on embankments was also executed, but the implementation was far from satisfactory. Some of the findings were as follows: • Almost 64% of the respondents reported to have MGNREGS Job Cards but only 16% reported to have worked in the scheme. • On average only 12 days of work was provided in the sample villages in the last calendar year • The villagers were not aware of projects approved under the scheme by the Gram Sabha. The Rozgar Sevaks interviewed were also unable to give details of the scheme. The community involvement was very low. Micro Plans were not ready, or were not available in the public domain • People were not aware of the entitlements under the ACT. They did not know that they could demand work. Work-site facilities were nonexistent. • In spite of having job cards, jobs were not made available. A number of cases have been reported when job cards were received in 2007 but no work has been provided. • The BPO/Rozgar Sevak said that workers were not willing to work in the schemes and they were more interested in migration as they wages were higher. According to them, women were not willing to work as the work was difficult for them. It is important to note here that Bihar was one of the first states in the country which notified a gender sensitive piece rates for earth-work. • Women said that they were willing to work as the wages were higher, provided the work was given to them. • There seems to be a structural denial of wage work, evident from FGDs with big farmers, who said that if the work is provided under the scheme the wages will increase, making farming further un-viable. There also seems to be a fear that if income is transferred, they will
ICDS has been one of the most important schemes in the country. The proper functioning of Anganwari Centres is very critical for the six services which they are supposed to provide. The services are - supplementary nutrition to pregnant and lactating women, adolescents and children below the age of 6; immunisation services; nutrition & health education; health check-up and growth monitoring of children and pregnant women; referral services; and pre-school education for 3-6 year olds. Although the centres have been established in all the villages under study, their functioning was not proper. Attendance of children was very low, growth monitoring lacking. The centre remained closed for weeks on some pretext, the distribution of supplementary nutrition was irregular. The Anganwari Sevikas said that they did not receive the grants regularly so they are unable to provide services. They said they had ‘faced resistance’ from CDPOs (Child Development Project Officers) and the office regarding release of funds. It is worth mentioning here that the demand for the institutional deliveries has considerably increased in the sample area because of the Janani Suraksha Yojna (Govt. scheme on maternal health and safety). The health services have marginally improved.
Important Issues in State Interventions • While there has been change in the thinking in disaster management at the policy levels, the thinking has not percolated to the grassroots. Institutional mechanisms continue to be weak. At the grassroots, the mindset of relief continues. • Though Climate Change is being experienced and acknowledged, no serious attempts seems to have been undertaken to mitigate the effects. • The delivery of State Entitlements continues to be weak.
Oxfam India - 2011
Oxfam interventions Flood Preparedness
Disaster Risk Reduction Programme (DRRP) has been one of the important interventions by OXFAM in the study area in partnership with organisations IDF, Adithi and BSS in Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi and Madhubani districts respectively. The observations here are based on the discussions with the beneficiaries, field level workers and the chief functionaries of the concerned CSOs. One village each was undertaken for the three partners. The study did not undertake the evaluation of each CSO separately but an overall evaluation of the program.
Under the flood preparedness the following major activities were undertaken. These activities were undertaken as they happen to be the basic requirement of the flood prone areas in the state • Value added flood shelters • Homestead raising, platform raising of existing hand pumps • Installation of new hand pumps with raised platforms with soak pits • Construction of grain storage, lighting with solar lamps • Toilet construction in raised platform near homestead lands • Formation of Village level Disaster Preparedness Committees. This has four sub committees namely information and contact task force, health and hygiene task force, relief and rehabilitation task force and rescue/ damage assessment task-force • Safety and emergency kits that includes emergency drugs, ropes and life-jackets made of local materials • Training of village voluntary force for disaster management and preparedness
Interventions in the Program The interventions in the program can be basically classified under three heads namely 1. Flood preparedness 2. Promotion of livelihood 3. Improvement in public health
Livelihood Promotion For the promotion of livelihood following major activities had been undertaken • Formation of women SHGs, initiation of some micro enterprises with special emphasis on the poorest • Vermi-composting • Kitchen gardens, fruit trees • Farmers clubs, groups initiation of vegetable production • Vegetable cultivation • Implementation of System of Rice Intensification (SRI), experiments with System of Wheat Intensification (SWI) and Zero Tillage
Health and Hygiene A number of activities were undertaken for improving the health and hygiene. The project worked through the creation awareness among villagers with focus on women, adolescents and children about health and personal hygiene issues. It has also created awareness about immunization especially in the hamlets of minorities groups as well in Dalit tolas. Swasthya Saheli (literally Health - Friend) has an important contribution towards health and hygiene. Besides the raising of platforms of tube wells and construction of latrines, IEC material was prepared and rallies and awareness camps were also held. Oxfam India - 2011
Analysis of the Interventions
good, important vulnerability issues remained un-addressed, namely the lack of credit and insurance mechanism. Most members are tenant farmers who borrow at a very high rate of interest. In future the programs could benefit by addressing these issues, for example, through the formation of joint liability groups - to increase access of farm credit could help the farmers, or the introduction crop insurance. • There have been a number of structural barriers that perpetuate poverty and exclusion, intensifying during and after the disaster. A number of people - especially women and the aged from the Dalit and extremely backward communities - need to be organised to protect themselves from the powerful class. In the interventions, the poorest and most vulnerable are often excluded as they have relatively less capacity to give results in a very short period of time. Each village had 5-6 families who required special attention, but were by and large outside the focus. Also, among CSOs – both at the functionary and at the highest levels – there should be enough clarity on social exclusion issues and its impact on the adaptation to climate change. • The CSOs felt that there needs to be continuity in the program and management to give better results. The issue of appropriate sharing of resources between the organisation vis-à-vis their activity need to be streamlined.
The respondents during the discussions were of the unanimous opinion that interventions have helped in number of ways. The difference was quite visible in the sample area between the villages where interventions had happened compared to those where no interventions took place. Some of the important positive aspects worth noticing were: • Higher awareness among the people about flood disaster mitigation. The project has contributed in developing a sense of flood preparedness strategy among the community members; a cadre of men and women were visible in the sample villages. • Good rapport of NGOs (that were part of the District committees) with District level administration. The NGOs had worked with local officials too, with not very encouraging results; reasons included officials’ busy schedule and lack of orientation • Self Help Groups in these villages have definitely helped the women to organise themselves, and have given them a platform to discuss their issues. The women looked confident in expressing their views even in front of the strangers. A sense of solidarity seems to have emerged amongst the members of the SHG. The incomes from their efforts were low, but they spoke of non-income benefits of group formation.
• Farmers clubs have also helped the small and marginal farmers getting better linkages with the modern inputs; vegetable farming has helped them. Although they could understand the benefits of the vermin compost, they felt that the productivity of the crop was higher with fertilisers.
All the social and economic groups under the study are experiencing climate change, and the change in the nature and frequency of floods. Their experiences are supported by the secondary data. Farming systems and the cropping patterns have been changing as a consequence. It is impacting the health of humans, animals and the crops. The poor, marginal, landless and artisan communities are resorting to migration and borrowings to cope with the situation. Land owners are changing the cropping pattern, reducing the summer crops, shifting to short duration crops, using high yielding varieties, putting more emphasis on Rabi particularly for wheat and maize. The impact on women has been more severe. Although there is awareness in the Government, and more emphasis is now on preparedness, there is no long term strategy. Mechanisms need to be decentralised and percolate to the grass roots. There is evidence of poor implementation of different entitlements which can help in mitigating the effects of climate change. Oxfam interventions have yielded important learning, but a more concerted effort is required.
• Even among the most land-poor households, kitchen gardens - with fruit and vegetable plants - has provided them with fruits like guavas and bananas not only for self consumption, but also for small outside income. There has been a considerable demand for the plants by others in the villages. • Demand has been created for raised latrines, tube wells, hygiene issues and immunisation. The women and men seemed more aware about these. Some of the limitation of the interventions are summarised below: • The meetings of the Gram Sabhas and Village Level Committees were not very regular. • While the formation of farmers’ clubs initiative has been
Oxfam India - 2011
In the way forward, there is a need for a number of studies and documentation. More convergence in the programs and advocacy at all levels are also required.
2. Impact of climate change on the flora and fauna and animal health. During the study, some people spoke of the possible extinction of a number of bird and animal species - this should be verified. Similarly, the facts behind the perception that domestic animals are now becoming more susceptible to diseases also need to be documented and verified. Both the studies need to be conducted by a multidisciplinary team of experts.
Studies and Documentation A number of technical studies are required for scientific documentation on the impact of changes, for the verification of the perception of the people, and for arriving at technical solutions to the problems of climate change. Some of the studies that can be taken up are:
3. A study on the MGNREGS, exploring how it can be used for climate change mitigation, what the advocacy issues are, identifying gaps in the program and how it can be made more suitable for the climate change perspective.
1. Impact of climate change on the farming systems and the livelihood: The farming system may change due to a number of factors but it is important to study those linked with climate change. The study needs to be conducted in different zones of the State - irrigated, flood prone, and drought zones. The study would analyse the impacts on the productivity of different crops, and plant diseases. The first step of the study could be documentation of currently available material at the agricultural universities. The study can also find out the needs and suitability - of current crop varieties, of introduction of new varieties, and of crop establishment practices.
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Program Intervention Issues 1. The positive results of the programs should be continued with efforts towards consolidation and up-scaling. 2. In the up scaling or new design, it needs to be linked to the state entitlements - especially food and nutrition, MGNREGS and ICDS. 3. Special emphasis required to resolve credit, tenancy, and insurance issues.
Annexure Brief Account of the Sample Villages
Karhara Karhara is a revenue village under Karhara Gram Panchayat in Madhepur block of Madhubani district in Bihar. The village is situated close to the Supaul district border, at a distance of about 15 kms from Madhepur block Head Quarters, about 22 kms from Jhanjharpur railway station and 62 kms from Madhubani district Head Quarters.
Chunni Chunni is a revenue village under Karhara Gram Panchayat in Madhepur block of Madhubani district in Bihar. This village lies outside the Kosi embankments, but is very close to the western embankment. It is about 12 kms from Madhepur block Head Quarters, about 20 kms from Jhanjharpur railway station and 60 kms from Madhubani district Head Quarters.
The village lies within the Kosi River embankments, very close to the western one, making it very vulnerable to floods. The village has had to face many threats and challenges in the past.
Though the village is in the so called Kosi flood protected region, it faces occasional threat of flood because of seepage, breakage or overflow of water in or above the Kosi embankments, and from Kamla Balan (River).
The village is bounded by a tributary of Kosi and the village Bariwarwa (under Darah Gram Panchayat) in the east, by Kosi (west) embankment and village Bhakrain in the west, by Marouna village (Supaul district) in the North and by village Kharik (under Rahua Gram Panchayat) in the south.
Chunni is bounded by Kosi (west) embankment and village Rampura Chatanwa in the east, by village Kurson in the west, by village Rupouli in the North and by village Bhakrain in the south. It is a multi-caste village, predominantly inhabited by Brahmins (General Castes Category).
Karhara is relatively a big village with 1091 households (2001 Census). This is a multi-caste village predominantly inhabited by Other Backward Castes (OBCs). The village is significant in its inclusion of different communities, with as many as 22 Castes and Sub-castes. The investigator could identify 20 of these, namely Paswan (15%), Mushar or Sadai (1%), Dhobi or Safi (1%), Mochi or Chamar (2%) from SCs category; Mandal or Dhanuk (5%), Rout or Barai or Panwala (5%), Yadav (5%), Khatwe (5%), Nai or Thakur (5%), Koiri (3%), Teli (3%), Poddar (3%), Halwai or Sahu (2%) from OBCs category; Yadav (13%), Barhai (3%) and Malah or Machhuara (4%) from Extremely Backward Communities (EBC); Brahmin (16%), Rajput (4%) and Kayastha (2%) from General Castes Category; and rest (3%) from Muslims community. Broadly categorised, the village comprises 19% SCs, 36% OBCs, 20% EBCs, 22% General and 3% Muslims.
According to the 2001 Census, the village has 336 households. Social category-wise division of households reveal that the General Castes Category (Brahmins) comprise about 76% of the total households in the village, followed by 22% OBCs including EBCs (Mandals –15%, Khatwe – 3%, Nai-Hazam – 2%, Teli-Sao – 1% and Barhai-Carpenter – 1%) and 2% SCs (Dom)
Mointol (Balha) Mointol (Balha) is a revenue village under Balha Gram Panchayat in Bisfi block of Madhubani district in Bihar. This village is situated very close to the southern side of the Adhwara Group of Rivers. A small rivulet called Baghbhos encircles the village almost from three sides - west, north and south. The village Mointol (Balha) is situated at a distance of about 6 kms from Bisfi block Head Quarters and about 31 kms form Madhubani district Head Quarters. Though the village is situated very far from the western embankment of Kosi, the villagers are affected by flood almost every year.
The village is divided into 18 hamlets, though there are no distinct boundaries between them. The main village is inhabited predominantly by the Brahmins, who happened to be the representatives of the Darbhanga Maharaja. Local Governance is done by dividing the area into 7 Wards.
Mointol (Balha) is bounded by village Pokhar Tola in the east, by Balha Ghat in the west, by Kamlabari in the north and Math Tola in the south. The village divided into Mahato Tola, Paswan Tola, Mallah Tola and Khatwe Tola.
Murahi Nayabash is a part of Pachnaur Murahi village of Pachnaur Panchayat, Belsund block of Sitamarhi district. It is about 3 kms away from Block Headquarters and about 45 km from Sitamarhi district Headquarters. It is surrounded by Sukhi village in the north, Jaushidih in the south, Pachnaur village in the west and river Bagmati and its western embankment in the east.
The Mointol (Balha) village has 120 families. The village is predominantly inhabited by Koiri Mahatos (OBC category, 55 families), followed by Mallahs (EBC category, 35 families) Paswans (SC category, 15 families), Khatwes (EBC category 15 families) and Chamars – 1%. 25
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Murahi Nayabash is a rehabilitated village of Nanaura, which was washed out in 1954 flood. In 2007, Murahi Nayabash village was also totally washed out by flood, and again it was rehabilitated. All homestead were raised again and thatched houses were constructed by the people themselves, with the support of Adithi - Oxfam.
Basghatta is a remote village in the Basghatta Panchayat of Katra block in Muzaffarpur district. It is about 3 km from Block H.Q. and about 50 km from Muzaffarpur District H.Q. The Village is bounded by villages Pasaul in the north, Bapuchi in south, Aghaura in east and Baraitha in west. River Lakhandei of Adhwara group flows just 2 km from the village in S-W direction, and river Bagmati flows 1.5 km away in southward direction.
The resettled village is predominantly inhabited by SC population. Majority of them are Paswan and Harijan (Chamar). People do not have land or property other than home. Adult men from almost every family used to migrate to places like Punjab, Delhi to earn a living. Most women depend on unskilled wage work.
Basghatta has 345 households (Census 2001), and a population of 1941 (male 967, female 974). Sex ratio works out to 939. It is a multi-caste village, with predominantly SC population. Most of the people do not own agricultural land. Majority agricultural land are owned by Rajput families (50 hh). Adult men from almost all families migrate to Gujarat, Punjab, Delhi and Mumbai. Women depend on unskilled wage work.
The village is situated very close to western embankment of Bagmati river. Villagers face the problem of water logging in the rainy season, as there is no way for water to drain-out. The villagers live under the threat of floods, due to an overflow or a breach in the Bagmati embankment.
Mahati Chandauli (Das tola)
This village is in Chandauli Panchayat of Belsund Block in Sitamarhi district. The village has 2 hamlets - Mahati Chandauli and Mahati Chandauli Das tola. The study was conducted in Das tola. The village has approximately 1190 households, almost 25% from upper caste Bhumihars communities (erstwhile landlords and large farmers) and roughly equal number of Mandals.
Sasauli is a remote village in Muzaffarpur district, in the Alampur Simri Panchayat of Aourai block in Bihar. It is about 5 km from Block H.Q., and about 65 km from Muzaffarpur District H.Q. Sasauli is bounded by villages on all sides, Ratwara in the north, Simri in the south, Chandiha in the east and Muksudpur in the west. Lakhandei of Adhwara group of rivers flows half a Km from the village, in the south - west direction; Bagmati flows 3 Kms away. The village is affected by flood from both the rivers.
190 families belong to the other middle castes (Yadavs, Sahu, Teli, Surhi, Kushwaha, Koeri) and upper castes including Brahmins and Kayasths. About 25% of the families belong to multiple Dalit communities - Paswan, Dusadh and Tatma, who primarily work as landless wage labourers apart from their traditional occupation. The Dalits live in one corner of the village in small kuccha (unbaked mud) houses. 20-25 families in the village own considerable land, while others have small areas of land holding. About 30 families do not even have land for their homes and are currently have their houses on others land.
There are 4 hamlets - Sasauli, Navtolia, Bichala, and Dakhinwaritola. The village had 492 households (Census 2001) and a population of 2706 (male 1375, female 1331) Sex ratio of the village works out to 968. Sasauli is a multi-cast village, with predominantly Muslims and SC population. Most are Paswan, Dusadh or Mushar. Sasauli hamlet has around 250 households (hh); Muslims - 100 hh (Sheikh - 40, Kuraisi or Kasai - 30, Julaha - 20, Dhunia - 10); Dusadh/Paswan â€“ 70 hh; Mushar - 50, Sahu -13, Koiri 10 and Dhobi around 07 hh. Most of the people do not have agricultural land. Most of the agricultural land is owned by Muslim families - the dominant social group in the village - financially sound and socially organized. Adult men of almost all the Muslims families are working in Arab countries.
The village is enclosed by Bagmati from north side. The rivulet Manushmara, which is the old course of Bagmati from the south, ultimately meets the Bagmati. Two embankments, about 6 Kms apart, were constructed on the sides of on Bagmati in early 1970 to protect the villages. Earlier Bagmati flowed almost in the centre but now it has shifted towards eastern side of the embankment, threatening it the habitat.
Adult men of other communities are migrating to places like Gujarat, Punjab, Delhi, Mumbai. Women of most of the SC families depended on unskilled labour, and leased-in land from the Muslim land owners. This has been one of the communally sensitive villages with history of conflicts.
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The villagers were of the opinion that the river changed its course because earth was removed to build the embankment, creating low areas which the river followed. The village falls outside the embankment, which is 2 Km away.
Table 21 Mean, Standard Deviation and Coefficient of Variation of weekly Temperature and rainfall
WEEK 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52
Maximum Temperature Mean Std.Dev 22.17 3.17 22.26 2.95 22.39 2.12 22.84 4.30 23.85 2.05 23.73 4.32 26.33 2.05 26.78 5.07 28.07 5.11 29.82 5.47 31.64 5.66 32.20 7.98 33.19 8.28 35.78 6.35 36.33 6.40 36.12 6.71 37.42 2.86 36.20 6.60 37.41 2.87 37.69 2.55 37.90 2.46 38.46 2.90 37.36 3.12 36.96 2.83 35.50 2.17 33.39 5.88 33.57 1.96 33.07 1.76 32.71 1.41 32.98 1.36 32.79 1.23 33.02 1.14 32.67 1.35 32.56 1.02 31.96 5.44 31.57 5.42 32.26 1.14 32.38 1.39 31.36 5.45 32.29 1.30 31.54 5.38 31.87 1.35 31.22 1.30 30.68 1.17 29.28 4.98 29.28 0.84 27.67 4.70 26.14 4.46 24.52 5.91 24.41 4.28 24.14 1.57 22.95 1.76
CV 14.31 13.23 9.47 18.82 8.60 18.21 7.79 18.93 18.22 18.33 17.89 24.79 24.96 17.75 17.62 18.58 7.64 18.22 7.68 6.76 6.49 7.54 8.36 7.65 6.10 17.60 5.84 5.33 4.32 4.12 3.75 3.46 4.14 3.14 17.01 17.18 3.52 4.29 17.38 4.02 17.07 4.25 4.18 3.81 17.00 2.87 16.99 17.07 24.11 17.55 6.51 7.68
Minimum Temperature Mean Std.Dev 9.11 2.91 8.75 1.82 8.50 2.15 9.43 2.33 10.53 1.53 10.16 2.57 12.28 1.86 12.33 2.78 13.26 2.80 14.57 3.00 15.82 3.05 16.71 4.22 18.26 4.66 20.12 3.68 21.24 3.79 21.91 4.00 23.70 1.15 23.30 4.08 24.53 1.35 25.35 1.51 25.58 1.40 26.31 1.28 26.48 1.23 26.96 1.26 25.91 4.38 25.82 4.38 26.26 0.97 26.19 0.81 26.15 0.88 26.21 0.84 26.24 0.75 26.35 0.79 26.20 0.81 26.11 0.78 26.06 0.88 25.02 4.26 25.46 0.71 25.29 0.65 24.05 4.15 23.86 1.11 22.39 4.00 21.38 1.69 19.55 1.65 18.31 1.75 16.09 3.23 15.10 1.50 13.53 2.95 11.66 2.61 10.04 2.82 10.03 2.36 9.85 1.44 9.52 1.59 27
CV 32.01 20.85 25.31 24.71 14.55 25.34 15.18 22.58 21.12 20.61 19.29 25.26 25.52 18.30 17.84 18.26 4.83 17.53 5.52 5.97 5.47 4.87 4.65 4.66 16.90 16.96 3.71 3.11 3.35 3.20 2.84 2.99 3.08 2.98 3.38 17.01 2.80 2.59 17.24 4.65 17.86 7.90 8.45 9.54 20.09 9.96 21.79 22.42 28.12 23.54 14.60 16.66
Mean 2.19 0.96 9.52 5.64 3.81 2.50 4.09 5.05 2.69 2.86 2.25 3.12 1.15 0.38 1.97 4.74 4.09 4.73 9.71 8.26 12.79 10.11 23.54 29.08 44.78 64.01 67.68 103.51 85.13 62.21 65.59 60.94 51.55 78.52 48.88 59.01 59.94 34.75 40.62 38.63 16.90 13.06 3.11 2.57 3.29 1.71 0.80 1.74 0.04 3.40 1.17 3.94
Rainfall Std.Dev 4.17 1.98 32.76 9.52 6.47 4.23 7.95 12.04 5.80 6.89 7.86 6.24 2.37 1.23 4.32 8.64 9.02 8.60 16.26 13.54 22.48 16.08 43.08 47.61 64.49 74.42 58.20 109.95 68.76 58.69 50.76 54.45 53.58 70.04 42.21 48.56 62.01 30.45 65.18 60.94 32.44 36.20 10.87 6.27 12.14 5.09 2.45 5.91 0.16 15.57 3.49 8.12
CV 190.51 206.25 344.17 168.72 169.92 168.88 194.34 238.29 215.31 241.09 349.74 199.99 205.72 324.35 219.67 182.10 220.76 181.90 167.38 164.05 175.74 159.03 183.02 163.74 144.01 116.26 85.99 106.22 80.77 94.35 77.40 89.36 103.93 89.20 86.36 82.30 103.45 87.62 160.47 157.78 192.01 277.20 350.01 244.27 368.80 297.73 307.03 339.16 429.79 458.26 298.36 206.21
Oxfam India - 2011
Acronyms and Abbreviations ASHA ATMA BAO BDO BPL BSS CDPO CO CSO DRM DRRP EBC FGD FMD GOB IAY ICDS IDF IEC IMD KVK MDM
Accredited Social Health Activist (component of NRHM) Agricultural Technolgy Management Agency Block Agricultural Officer Block Development Officer Below Poverty Line Bihar Seva Samiti (Organisation) Child Development Project Officer Circle Officer Civil Society Organisation Disaster Risk Management (Programme) Disaster Risk Reduction Programme Economically Backward Castes Focus Group Discussion Foot and Mouth Disease (Livestock disease) Government of Bihar Indira Awaas Yojana (Government Housing Scheme) Integrated Child Development Services Integrated Development Foundation (Organisation) Information Education Communication Indian Meteorological Department Krishi Vigyan Kendra (Agricultural Science Unit) Mid Day Meal (component of ICDS)
MGNREGA MGNREGS MW/POP MW/TW NGO NOAPS NRHM OBC PDS PHC PRI SC SHG SRI ST SWI TPDS TSC UNDP VDMC WPR
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act MGNREG Scheme Main Workers as a proportion of Population Marginal Workers as a proportion of Total Workers Non-Governmental Organisation (also see CSO) National Old Age Pension Scheme National Rural Health Mission Other Backward Castes Public Distribution System (also see TPDS) Primary Health Centre Panchayati Raj Institution (Local Governance structure) Schduled Castes Self Help Group System of Rice Intensification Scheduled Tribes System of Wheat Intensification Targeted Public Distribution System Total Sanitation Campaign United Nations Development Programme Village Disaster Management Committee Workforce Participation Rates
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www.oxfamindia.org Oxfam India - 2011
Report on the relief and recovery work by Oxfam India partners in the wake of recent natural disasters in India.