Eroding Hope: Islanders Struggle for Survival
It’s hard to imagine your entire life washing away before your eyes: your home, your livelihood or even your loved ones.
As a husband, farmer, and father of two children, Sreekanth is the sole provider for his family. In 2009, the floods had no mercy on his one-acre property on a river island in Andhra Pradesh, India. His fields were ruined, covered with salt water and mud. Rising waters wiped out whole villages, swept away fishing boats, destroyed crops, and drowned animals. Many were homeless and nine children were killed by this unfortunate disaster.
These annual monsoon floods continue to endanger lives, homes and animals. They harm the precious land this agricultural community depends on for food and income. But with the support of donors like you, you can help control the ill-effects of flooding.
Working with the islanders, joint teams from India Partners and Engineering Ministries International (eMi2) developed a flood mitigation system for the island. They drafted a cost-effective plan using readily available materials to
(1) control erosion and (2) protect people and their homes.
Vetiver grass is a native Indian plant that grows quickly. It has strong roots that penetrate deep into the soil to prevent future erosion. Terraces of vetiver grass will be created over eroding areas to save the people’s farmland from washing away.
In addition, engineers have designed small homes, built out of brick and cement, which will be placed on stilts. People will be able to move their belongings and animals to higher ground to escape the rising waters.
The vetiver grass is a sustainable solution that will not only save this island from erosion, but also help surrounding islands facing similar erosion problems. The islanders can grow and sell their own vetiver to help their neighbors.
During the big flood in 2009, Sreenu, a villager of the island, witnessed as the floodwaters submerged all the mud and thatched roof houses. You could not see a single roof, she said. Many families fled their homes and some found shelter in trees. Sreenu and other islanders, however, found refuge in the only two-storied cement building on the island: the church built by donors like you through India Partners.
“The Church building is like a ship in a large sea,” Sreenu said. “Praise God for the church in our village.”
Since 2009 over 60 families have relocated off the island. Many of the people who moved made homes from tarps and lived on the side of the road. They commute to the island every day to work on their fields, because it’s their livelihood and the land has been in their families for generations. With soil that’s so rich and fertile, their crops flourish. For many of these families, their ultimate hope is to return to their homeland, and live in a safe home.
13,000 feet of vetiver grass need to be planted in order to prevent erosion and 5,000 bricks are needed to build a house for a family to be safe
Would you consider donating $25 or more to fight land erosion and help provide a home for these families?
$25 protects 200 feet of the island’s farmland
from erosion using vetiver grass.
$100 buys 1,000 bricks to build a home for a family.
To give, click “donate now” and select “Island Erosion Project” from the drop-down menu. Thank you.