People have been living in the Thar Desert for thousands of years and have found traditional ways of dealing with the lack of natural resources and facilities. However, changes in the world climatically, socially and economically have led to major disadvantages for this area of India. The issues faced range greatly and affect each family differently base on their village location, family members and livelihood availabilities.
Natural Resource Management
The most important aspect for the people of the Thar Desert concerning natural resource management is water management. Water is the main factor upon which all life depends and for many people living in the desert state the daily struggle for water is immense. The scarce element of water is a major factor in people's lives as it relates to all aspects including health, hygiene, agriculture and employment. Water is directly connected to agriculture given that without water it's impossible to grow crops which can have a severe impact on the economic situation of farmers and their families. The effect on agriculture also affects the variety of nutritious food available to the people. Many cannot grow much needed vegetables and are force to live on a minimal diet of chillies, onion and chapattis. An increase in drought periods in recent decades has led to an even more increase demand on sources due to water scarcity.
Due to the lack of livelihood options, many men, women and children and forced to work in the mines in order to provide for their families. Although The Mines Act was created in 1952 to secure the basic rights of the mineworkers, most workers are continually exploited with low wages, unsafe working conditions and no social or health security compensation. There are nearly two thousand accidents that occur throughout the mines every year which doesn't include the thousands of workers who are affected by occupational diseases. The most common diseases being tuberculosis and silicosis which are developed through the inhalation of silica dust due to improper safety equipment.
Women are the backbone of any family; they raise the children, make the food and perform countless other household duties. Unfortunately this means that the majority of women carry many of the burdens the Thar Desert brings. Due to lack of healthcare many women suffer from anemia, many during times of pregnancy and breastfeeding. Not only do they perform household duties they are left to earn for their families as well when their husbands can no longer provide due to illness, addiction or death. Consequently, woman are paid much less than a man would make doing the same amount of work if forced to work in the mines due to bonded labour. This discrimination towards woman can even been seen from a young age as most families prefer boys over girls and many girls are married off when they are just barely teenagers. Forced to run a household after just hitting puberty
A child's primary goal should be to attend school and play in a safe and wholesome environment. However, for many children in the Thar Desert their lives are not that simple and they are forced to face the harsh realities of the desert much too early. The circumstances in which some of these children live in means that they cannot attend school and are forced to help their families in the mines and other forms of manual labour. Many children in the area are underweight, malnourished and suffer from disease such as diarrhea and anemia due to lack of nutritional food. They struggle right from the beginning as many do not receive routine immunizations and the rates of both infant and child mortality in these regions are high.
The elderly people of the village have spent their lives caring for the needs of their children, grandchildren and their village. Yet, when the struggle to survive becomes the responsibility of the individual they are often left without the opportunities to earn their livelihoods. They lack food security and the means to pay for basic healthcare which is needed in the more advanced years of life. This age group carries with them a vast source of knowledge and capabilities but without assistance they are left to the mercy of their families and villages for survival.