Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu: As men migrate from drought-hit Tamil Nadu in search of work, it’s the village women who have taken charge of the situation in Nagapattinam district.
Severe scarcity of water has not only caused a mass exodus leading to a collapse of the agrarian economy, but has also affected the subsidiary jobs.
In Meenambanallur village, four in every five men have migrated in search of work. Women gather near the pipeline every week to wait for the water supply that comes for just an hour.
“There is no water to drink, no food to eat and no job to do,” a 50-year-old Annamma is heard singing to a group of women around her.
“We get water from this pipe only once a week for one hour. Our men are not here and we have to ensure we don’t miss this supply to sustain our families,” said a farmer’s wife who is in her 30s.
The families, dependent primarily on agriculture, say that they got paid for 100 days of work under NREGA till December, but ever since the drought hit the state four months ago, there is no water or work on the field.
“With no water, even subsidiary jobs like cleaning ponds have come to a stand-still forcing our men to travel to neighbouring states in search of jobs,” said D Davamani, a farmer and a former panchayat president.
Jayeeta, 25, who also has to take care of her children, said that she’s always worried about the stock of water left with her.
“We don’t have access to drinking water. We ration whatever stock we manage once a week. We can’t afford to run short of water,” she said.