SURE from the beginning has been involved in
combating recurrent droughts. Apart from timely
and quality emergency relief, it has strived to explore
lasting solutions for long term drought mitigation.
Almost every third year is a drought year and there
are cycles of creeping drought that last for years. In
this harsh living context, the misery of marginal
communities is worsened by lack of adequate water
storage facilities and social norms that disallow
equitable access from common water sources. In
such a context, ensuring water security has been an
important priority for SURE since its inception. The
organisation has mobilized communities to
construct and, repair a range of water structures like
nadi, tankas, beri, tankli that ensure water security.
Combating drought over the years has made SURE evolve good practices for emergency relief and work with communities on building long term drought preparedness for food, fodder, water security. Responding to droughts in the region almost every alternate year made SURE understand that children were among the most vulnerable to these periods of scarcity. One of the early signs of an emergent drought would be closing of schools and day care centres. For most children of school going age, day long wandering in search for pastures for their sheep and goats would assume an urgency. This change in everyday life at village level denied children their right to an enjoyable learning environment. During interventions and informal interactions with children, it was felt that children knew and experienced these impact processes of drought rather closely. It was important that they are listened to and given opportunities to freely express themselves. With this objective, a drought preparedness programme was initiated in ten villages of Barmer in 2006-07. Along with children, members of communities in these ten villages were mobilised to undertake a participatory planning for preparing disaster preparedness plans. Around thirteen hundred children participated in children fairs (Bal melas). The issues discussed at the Bal Melas at village level related to understanding different aspects of impact of drought on children, with a special focus on the problems of availability of drinking water in schools and day care centres.