India has been shaken several times already in 2015 with extreme weather events that have destroyed crops and lowered water resources. A heatwave earlier this year took the lives of 2,500 people, and although the heat has ebbed, the impact of this extreme weather event is still evident. On top of this, six states have experienced unseasonal flash floods, dust, hail storms and heavy rain.
Extreme weather events have a direct impact on people?s livelihoods in a region, and this year?s events have affected the entire country. In particular, the home of the Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh in the north has been severely affected.
MasterCard?s donation will provide immediate emergency relief for 17,000 marginalised people such as farmers, displaced tribal groups and fishing communities, pregnant mothers and the elderly. The project will also involve reconstructing defective water storage systems for roaming livestock and rainwater harvesting to improve soil quality across farming communities.
The donation will also go towards long-term support for livelihood recovery programs and seeking government compensation for those who have been hardest hit. To protect food stores and coordinate communities during emergencies, ActionAid will organise Village Disaster Management Committees and Community Grain Banks. Programs will also be created to employ low-income farming families during times of devastating crop destruction.
MasterCard will also finance a study on how Indian residents were impacted by the heatwave, and identify ?best practice? for future responses by international aid organisations and local partners.
Spokesperson for MasterCard Asia/Pacific Porush Singh said, “MasterCard has worked in the country for many years and we are committed to supporting and empowering India as it continues to grow and develop.”
Spokesperson for ActionAid India Sehjo Singh added, “I am confident that our collaboration will be a great example of how, by working in partnership, we can support vulnerable people, particularly women, to develop their leadership capacity and improve community-led disaster management for the future.”
ActionAid is a global movement in over 40 countries that aims to defeat poverty and achieve basic human rights for all. They partner with nearly 250 community-based organisations and NGOs, with a strong focus on women?s leadership.
Women?s leadership is especially important in developing nations because UN research has proven that it builds economic growth and human development, reduces poverty, and is an important human right. For the past 20 years worldwide, two-thirds of the 774 million people worldwide who are illiterate have been female. But when women are educated they become employable and they pass that learning on to their children, building the future of a nation.
The Australian government?s DFAT policy for 2014-2016 expressly includes promoting the economic empowerment of women and girls, empowering women entrepreneurs in our region and advocating internationally for their participation in political, economic and social affairs and leadership. DFAT lists the following reasons for empowering women:
- Providing women with resources to start and maintain a farm could reduce hunger for an extra 150 million people.
- Better educated women have fewer children and are able to keep those children healthier and better educated. This increases economic growth because fewer people are living in extreme poverty.
- Women can often be more able to negotiate ceasefires within communities, bringing more lasting peace between cultural groups.
Although in ancient times, India was far better at educating women than other famed kingdoms such as Greece and Rome, today, poverty significantly affects how many women can reach their full potential. You can read case studies about what has happened in India when women become educated and empowered as leaders through Care India.