Far-flung South Asian communities, from the high Himalayan slopes to the Indian Ocean coasts, united in the face of extreme and uncertain weather, continue to hold out hope that the Rio+20 focus on disaster risk reduction (DRR) will positively influence national policies.
“There is hope in India, the biggest country in the region, that the final statement at the Rio+20 summit titled ‘The Future We Want’ gets translated into national policy before it is too late,” Vinod Chandra Menon, former member of India’s National Disaster Management Authority, told IPS.
Menon, now disaster management consultant to several international bodies, said the current severe drought in South Asia, caused by the failure of this year’s monsoon, should compel policy makers in the region to “walk the Rio+20 talk” and recognise that man-made activities are contributing to climate change.
“For decades there have been warnings that reckless extraction of groundwater was not only lowering the water table drastically but also disturbing the sensitive rain cycle of precipitation, condensation and recharge with serious consequences for rain-fed agriculture,” Menon said.
“It is not far-fetched to say that agricultural distress, marked by the spectacle of farmers committing suicide by the tens of thousands, is the result of an inability to translate climate change knowledge into policy,” Menon said.