Crowdfunding quenching thirsts in drought-hit India
NAGAPATTINAM, India — The worst drought in more than a century in southern India has led to protests, farmer suicides and violence at water taps as reservoirs and lakes dry up in the searing heat.
It has also led to an unusual crowdfunding campaign that helped restore a village pond in one of the worst affected areas, with a similar effort planned for a second pond.
The effort, led by The Better India website, raised more than 1.1 million rupees ($17,000) on crowdfunding site Milaap.
The Thiruvaimur-Thamarai pond in Nagapattinam, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, was cleaned and de-silted earlier this year with half those funds, in preparation for approaching rains. A second pond in the same area will be cleaned shortly.
“We had crowdfunded other social-impact projects before, including destitute women and underprivileged children,” said Aishwarya Guha, head of impact projects at The Better India.
“People want to help, to feel they can make an impact even with just a small sum of money,” she said.
“We don’t always have to depend on the government for everything. Something like this allows people to come together and feel they are a part of the solution.”
Farmers from Tamil Nadu had traveled to Delhi earlier this year to call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide relief after the rains failed, leaving many of them in debt.
They displayed the skulls of fellow farmers believed to have committed suicide, and placed live rats in their mouths to draw the nation’s attention to their plight.
Crowdfunding is growing in popularity in India as a means to finance medical emergencies, help underprivileged people and assist during disasters. Environmental causes — from planting trees to cleaning beaches — is a relatively new focus area.