You are here
Incessant rain in the upper Himalayas in mid-June 2013 resulted in a series of cloudburst, landslides, and floods in northern India, with the biggest impacts in Uttarakhand State. Landslides and flash floods led to damaged roads, collapsed bridges, huge loss of life and property, as well as large numbers of pilgrims stranded at famous shrine areas. Hundreds of villages in the area were cut off, and populations were faced with difficulties in accessing basic supplies. They had to choose between waiting for air drops of relief supplies or venturing out long distances on foot in search of survival items. The crisis also negatively impacted the two main local livelihoods strategies, tourism and agriculture.
Christian Aid's emergency response team carried out this EMMA assessment in the two worst-affected districts of Uttarakhand shortly after the crisis to help shape its immediate response strategies. It focused on rice and tourism as critical market systems and followed the basic EMMA methodology. The team also conducted a brief survey of livelihoods strategies of poor and marginalized people living in the study area. Rice is one of the major crops of Uttarakhand and is grown on more than 54% of the total agriculture land. Apart from it being the staple food of the community, rice is also intimately associated with social, cultural and religious wellbeing of the community and also provides feed for cattle. Meanwhile, religious tourism is a huge industry in the region, with thousands of pilgrims visiting certain sites annually.
Households' own rice production normally lasts for 3-4 months, after which households depend on larger markets in the plains districts for their supply. The state government also provides monthly rice rations to poor families. The tourism sector includes hundreds of hotels, as well as numerous market actors offering tourist services such as meals and transport, in this study's geographic areas of focus.
The rice market system has been severely affected by the floods due to both supply and demand side constraints. Markets have seen drastic changes in terms of traders procuring less volumes of rice, absence of credit mechanisms, damaged roads, increase in transportation costs and lack of demand due to ongoing relief activities. In addition, demand had dropped due to flood-affected households' lack of purchasing power and limited access to markets. Meanwhile, rain-related landslides and flooding have impacted several important religious sites. As a consequence, the whole tourism market chain has collapsed due to negligible movement of people on the pilgrimage routes. This has resulted in huge losses to area hotels and tourism service providers.
This EMMA recommends a combination of cash transfers to affected households to ensure access to food items, cash or food for work programs to help rebuild essential infrastructure, identifying and addressing key blockages in supply chains, further development of agriculture, livestock-based and alternative livelihoods strategies for area households and the improvement of early warning prediction and communication systems.