In July of 2023, northern India experienced torrential rainfall from monsoons. As a result of the unprecedented amount of rain, at least 100 people have died from landslides and flash floods. While South Asia typically experiences monsoon rains from June to September, climate change has made flooding in India and other weather events more extreme and erratic.
As a testament to the increasing severity of the monsoon rains, flooding from the Yamuna River reached the walls of the Taj Mahal. As the Yamuna reached its highest level on record at 684 feet, other sectors of Indian life were affected as well.
The Jamuna River, which runs through the capital of New Delhi, rose 681.5 feet, forcing schools to close, making residents evacuate and submerging cars and homes.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) classifies India as one of the nations most affected by climate change, and the flooding in India is only expected to worsen. Northern India received a month’s worth of rainfall in a single day, leading to 30,000 residents being moved to relief camps, 600 homes damaged and 300 people stranded.
How Impoverished Indians are Affected
The flooding in India affects poor populations the most. As homes are destroyed, individuals are displaced from their neighborhoods and forced to move. In fact, it is projected that 45 million Indians will be forced to migrate by the year 2050 as a result of climate-related disasters.
The destruction of homelands is not the only factor contributing to India’s climate refugee crisis. Although monsoon rains were traditionally necessary for successful crop yields, the damage of extreme climate events outweighs the benefits.
Individuals are forced deeper into poverty from flooding in India. Small farmers depending on agriculture to make a living can no longer cope with damage caused by severe weather. Since floods damage crops, roads, homes and land, workers cannot travel to their jobs or grow and transport their crops. In fact, the International Institute for Environment and Development found that 70% of households migrated after extreme weather disasters. To escape poverty, India’s most vulnerable populations abandon their livelihoods in hopes of finding jobs elsewhere.
Khalsa Aid International
Luckily, organizations such as Khalsa Aid are committed to mitigating the effects of extreme flooding in India. Khalsa Aid is an international non-governmental organization that provides humanitarian aid in disaster areas. The organization has been relying on the help of volunteers and donors since 1999 to help vulnerable populations dealing with issues like famine, water scarcity, civil war and more.
As a response to the July 2023 floods, Khalsa Aid coordinated emergency relief efforts in the Punjab region of northern India. Teams on the ground operated in Ropar, Morinda, Rajpura and other cities to provide food and shelter to people stranded in their villages by the flooding.
So far, Khalsa Aid U.S.A. has already donated $250,000 to clean-up and rebuilding efforts after the flooding in India. Although flooding and extreme weather events are expected to continue, the work of Khalsa Aid is a reminder that vulnerable populations throughout India and the world will be supported by those who care.
– Meilyn Farina