Women Bear the Burden of India’s Water Crisis

Women Bear the Burden of India’s Water Crisis

Women log 3,300 hours of work on farm labour during a crop season, compared to the 1,860 hours logged by men. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS.

Feb 21 2020 (IPS) – Across cities and villages in India, an impending water crisis is at our doorsteps. India will face a water shortfall of almost 50 percent by 2030, if our water use continues its current pattern. Last year, Chennai and Bangalore showed us what water scarcity looks like; the statistics are no longer just numbers on paper, they have become our reality.

Even as we’ve started to acknowledge the water crisis in urban India, we’re still disconnected from how our rural communities are affected by it. Water is their life and their livelihood. Agriculture accounts for over 80 percent of India’s freshwater use, and more than half of India’s rural population depends on farming as a vocation.

Sixty percent of India’s districts face a problem of either over-exploited groundwater or poor water quality. This is because 63 percent of water for irrigation depends on groundwater (and not on dams or canals).

Women bear the burden of the water crisis

As we, at Hindustan Unilever Foundation, started our work to promote water security and wellbeing for rural communities across the country, it became evident very quickly that women bear the brunt of this escalating crisis.

Women fetch water for their families: Women in villages can end up spending up to four hours a day fetching water for their drinking needs. These are hours that could be spent going to school, or at work. This opportunity cost prevents them from embracing opportunities that could lead to their socio-economic progress.

Women form a significant portion of agricultural labour: Women represent 37 percent of the agricultural workforce in India. According to the Census of India, nearly 100 million women work in the agricultural sector out of the total workforce of 263 million cultivators and agricultural labourers. High levels of male out-migration in recent years have left women to take on the role of cultivators and farm labourers. Forty-five million women joined farming as cultivators or labourers between 1981-2011.

Women work longer in agricultural fields: An Oxfam study assessed that women log 3,300 hours of work on farm labour during a crop season, compared to the 1,860 hours logged by men. A growing water crisis will impact their ability to irrigate their fields or find work on fields that require irrigation. This could have far reaching consequences on an already stressed rural agrarian economy.

school, or at work. This opportunity cost prevents them from embracing opportunities that could lead to their socio-economic progress.

Women form a significant portion of agricultural labour: Women represent 37 percent of the agricultural workforce in India. According to the Census of India, nearly 100 million women work in the agricultural sector out of the total workforce of 263 million cultivators and agricultural labourers. High levels of male out-migration in recent years have left women to take on the role of cultivators and farm labourers. Forty-five million women joined farming as cultivators or labourers between 1981-2011.

Women work longer in agricultural fields: An Oxfam study assessed that women log 3,300 hours of work on farm labour during a crop season, compared to the 1,860 hours logged by men. A growing water crisis will impact their ability to irrigate their fields or find work on fields that require irrigation. This could have far reaching consequences on an already stressed rural agrarian economy.

February 25th 2020 – Arpit Jane & Reshma Anand – INTER PRESS SERVICE News Agency

http://www.ipsnews.net/2020/02/women-bear-burden-indias-water-crisis/