Weathering the storms

DisastersFarmingEnvironment and climate changeIndia

The terrible floods in South Asia highlight just how vulnerable poor farmers are. In a moment they have lost everything and when the waters recede they will have to start again, knowing that floods are a cyclical event.

Tearfund’s partner in India, EFICOR, is working tirelessly to help those affected by the current flooding. They intend to support 10,000 families with food and other items. But, as the story below highlights, they have also been working among communities for many years helping farmers to become better prepared to recover after flooding.

Dreams washed away
Every time it rained and the floods came, Sambhu Paswan’s dream of paying for his daughters’ weddings became ever more distant.

The Indian monsoon flooding would damage his rented land and ruin his crops, washing away his investment in seeds and fertiliser.

Burdened
Desperate for cash, the 52-year-old would get loans from moneylenders and take poorly paid work as a day-labourer to keep the family afloat.

Sambhu, who lives in rural Bihar – one of India’s poorest states – is part of a social caste considered to be at the bottom of society. It seems a massive understatement when he describes his plight as ‘a heavy burden’.

If farming success was dependent on hard work alone, Sambhu’s daughters would have enjoyed opulent weddings a long time ago.

But damage to the soil, due to the floods, combined with low quality seeds resulted in poor productivity year after year and little progress along the path out of poverty.

A new way
Today hope is back in Sambhu’s vocabulary. Tearfund partner EFICOR has put it there through its work with Sambhu’s village and 14 other flood-prone communities in Bihar.

Agricultural experts helped Sambhu and other farming neighbours adapt to the changing climate. They learnt:

  • how cow dung, tree leaves and waste could be used to enrich the soil, rather than buying expensive fertilisers
  • improved techniques to sow seeds and take care of plants
  • ways to manage pests

Sambhu has reaped the benefits, regularly harvesting more than double what he used to get.

Dreaming again
He’s been able to repay loans and start thinking again about realising his long-held dream: ‘I was about to give up on farming but now I’m motivated to continue. Hopefully, I will save enough for the wedding of my two daughters.

‘I’m grateful to the project as now I don’t have to migrate to work as a labourer. I’m excited to use my new farming skills and I’m quite certain I will continue to harvest good crop yields and increase my income.’

PLEASE PRAY

  • Praise God for the improved harvests that are being achieved by Sambhu and others as they implement the new techniques.
  • Pray for the work of EFICOR as they meet the immediate needs of those affected by the floods and as they provide more communities with vital training to help them recover from floods.
  • Pray for the ongoing challenge of climate change and pray that nations all over the world would work together towards ways of addressing the problem.
Prayer team

The rather mysteriously named Prayer Team is made up of a number of writers working closely with country and development experts in the UK and overseas.

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