Crowd­fund­ing quench­ing thirsts in drought-hit In­dia

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

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.

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