India's fight against poverty set back "by years", by floods, drought

    -   World Vision says malnourished families being pushed to the very edge
    -   Drought impacts north, northeast and some parts of western India,
        sudden floods catch people by surprise in the south

CHENNAI, India, Oct. 7 /CNW/ - Massive food shortages are now impacting hundreds of millions of Indians with floods and droughts, setting back efforts to combat poverty by years, warns World Vision.

The failure of the monsoon in the north, northeast and some parts of western India, has resulted in 22 per cent below normal rains for the country. The floods in southern India had caught people and the government by surprise, leaving millions homeless and more than 200 dead. Millions of farmers are now suffering from failed harvests or crops destroyed by flood waters.

"India is now entering a period of severe food vulnerability," said Jayakumar Christian, National Director for World Vision India. "We are seeing our development work set back by years." He said 350 million Indians were drought affected - including in 52 of World Vision's 135 project areas.

"The sudden floods came as a real shock to people living in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra because the region has not experienced anything like this in more than 100 years. These are not disaster prone areas," he said.

"Rates of malnourishment are already extremely high in India. Almost half of all children under five years old are malnourished and these droughts and floods are pushing families to the very edge. What is needed is a massive coordinated response involving the federal and central governments, and local and international NGOs to make sure food aid gets through." Christian said.

Without assistance he warned that crop failures and losses would lead to:

    -   Mass migration from rural areas to the cities
    -   Increased indebtedness among farmers
    -   Parents pulling children out of school to work instead
    -   Increased vulnerabilities for children, including the risk of
        children being trafficked into labour or sexual exploitation

World Vision is now appealing for US$2 million to meet the immediate needs of 100,000 flood survivors who have been driven from their homes into relief camps. The floods have destroyed crops and impacted some 20 million people, with scores of villages cut off. The most vulnerable during natural disasters - the children - will not only face threats of disease and hunger but will not be able to go back to school anytime soon because the floods have washed away books and destroyed school buildings.

The immediate needs of families will be food, shelter and clothing. The relief, development and advocacy organization's aid workers have been providing cooked food, household items, mosquito nets, cooking utensils and clothing to thousands of survivors in relief camps in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka as part of its initial response.

    -   World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy
        organization dedicated to working with children, families and
        communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves
        all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.

    -   World Vision has been working in India for more than 50 years. World
        Vision donors support more than 239,000 children through its
        programs, including 30,535 children supported by Canadians.

SOURCE World Vision Canada

For further information: For further information: To interview World Vision staff, please contact: Yoko Kobayashi, (905) 565-6200 ext. 2151, (416) 671-0086 (cell),; Britt Hamilton, (905) 565-6200 ext. 3949,

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