COVID-19 reaches Pravah's waterscapes
The COVID-19 lockdown started in India at the end of March. Transportation was severely curtailed and all food markets were initially closed. Similar to other parts of the world, the lockdown had the biggest impact on marginalised communities. In India, informal workers, particularly migrant labourers, and rural farming communities were severely affected by the sudden loss of markets, daily wages and access to national train services.
Many people tried to return to their villages, often on foot, triggering a process of reverse migration from urban to rural areas. They faced extreme conditions, with limited access to food, water and shelter, especially water to wash their hands regularly - as advised by governments and health organisations.
Unable to sell their harvest, farmers were forced to throw or give away most of their produce.
In Pravah, farmers were afraid to leave their houses, feeling the virus could be anywhere, spreading quickly through the air. Like in many other parts of India, farmers also had to throw away their harvest since they could not reach markets to sell their produce. Prachi, a woman farmer in Pravah said she had to throw away almost all the aubergines she had cultivated, since all transportation and markets were closed.
To cope with this situation, farmers decided to change cropping patterns for the monsoon and winter seasons. Flower cultivation is very labour intensive and needs quick connections to urban markets for sale. Farmers have therefore decided to plant traditional crops, such as bajra (pearl millet) and pulses instead. These crops can grow in rain-fed conditions without wastewater irrigation, and can be stored for a longer periods of time.
This strategy increases food security and helps create a more self-sustaining economy.
"My eyes water when I see vegetables getting rotten like this, but nothing is more important than our health".
Prachi, May 2020, phone interview
WHICH NEW FORMS OF SOLIDARITY HAVE EMERGED TO RESPOND TO THE COVID-19 CRISIS AROUND THE WORLD? HOW CAN WE LINK AND CONNECT THESE PRACTICES?
CAN IDEAS OF SELF-SUSTENANCE AND SELF-RELIANCE THAT WE SAW EMERGING FROM PRAVAH INSPIRE MORE JUST AND EQUITABLE SOCIONATURAL FUTURES?
HOW ARE WE CONTRIBUTING
TO THE SHAPING OF WATERSCAPES THROUGH OUR CONSUMPTION PATTERNS?