Andhra must ensure children in drought-hit areas don’t fall prey to traffickers
Natural disasters exacerbate the root causes of human trafficking, including poverty and lack of viable livelihoodseditorials Updated: May 10, 2017 16:34 IST
A drought is not just water scarcity. It has several other implications: Migration, trafficking, malnutrition, livestock deaths and agricultural losses. Such trying times are also an occasion for the State’s safety net to kick in and help people tide over the crisis. But that is not happening in Andhra Pradesh, which is facing one of the worst droughts in recent years. According to a news website, a fact-finding team, which visited seven villages in the Anantapur district, saw “shortage of water for irrigation as well as consumption by humans and livestock, the lack of PDS outlets and ration cards, migration, banking and debt”. But the most “harrowing ordeals” described in the report are about the children in these villages: Many of them have been left alone or with their siblings in the village to fend for themselves while their parents have moved to the cities in search of work. At best some families had left behind the elderly too to look after the children.
The fact-finding team comprising of activists found another disturbing fact: Some children could not get rations from the public distribution system because either the shops are located at a distance or the families did not have ration cards. “Further, issues were reported with biometric verification as well, especially in cases where the person in whose name the ration card was had migrated, and the machine wouldn’t accept the fingerprint of the existing beneficiary. So sometimes, the children would walk kilometres only to be turned away at the PDS outlets,” they added.
In a paper (Trafficking and Natural Disasters: Exploiting Misery) in International Affairs Review of the George Washington University, Joshua Finn writes that natural disasters exacerbate the root causes of human trafficking, including poverty and lack of viable livelihoods. The added shock of a natural disaster to an already vulnerable population can lead to an environment where human trafficking is more likely to be profitable. Among other recommendations, the paper emphasises the need to secure “greater engagement of local stakeholders” and provide increased “access to safe spaces following a disaster”.
It is the Andhra Pradesh government’s duty to ensure that these children without families are safe and that they get enough provisions to tide over this difficult time.