Environmental issues in India

India makes up 2.4 percent of the world's land, while supporting 16 percent of t
he world's population. The compounding result is a severely unsustainable use of
natural resources for several generations. Currently, India is experiencing rap
id and widespread environmental degradation at alarming rates. Tremendous pressu
re is placed upon the country's land and natural resources to support the massiv
e overpopulation.
Mismanagement and overuse of India's once abundant forests has resulted in deser
tification, contamination, and soil depletion throughout the sub-continent. This
has serious repercussions for the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of Indian
s that live off the land. In Rajasthan alone, it is approximated that nearly fiv
e million tribal people (as of 2004) rely on the collection of forest produce as
their only source of income or nourishment. Without continual access to forest
products such as fruit, honey, or firewood these communities experience debilita
ting hunger and are reduced to extreme poverty.
Drought is having severe consequences for the people Rajasthan who have endured
chronic shortages of water. In 2003, one-fifth of the villages in Rajasthan repo
rted that they had no access to a reliable water source, and approximately half
relied on a single source for the entire area. This affects the availability of
safe drinking water, the success of the livestock population, and the security o
f basic food sources. Without water, health, and agricultural productivity, Raja
sthani people are forced to struggle for their survival.
Numerous NGOs in Rajasthan focus on environmental issues as they are extremely p
ressing concerns for this region. FSD works with NGOs that have been enormously
effective in protecting natural resources and minimizing the effects of drought.
For example in 2006, an FSD intern Elizabeth Thys worked with the Foundation fo
r Ecological Security (FES) to build a rainwater harvesting system. This water t
ank improved the quality and accessibility of drinking water for approximately 1
50 people in a rural area of Rajasthan.
Other FSD partner organizations frequently conduct research projects on topics s
uch as soil stabilization, organic farming, erosion prevention, and protection a
nd management of forested lands. These organizations search for feasible solutio
ns to environmental problems and then provide the local community with necessary
funding and infrastructure. Aid from environmental organizations has become an
invaluable way for the poor to improve the condition of their local environment,
directly affecting the quality of their livelihoods.