“We woke up and people screamed for help,” Yadav, 26, said of that night in July 2019. “The water had gone to our heads … and I saw people being dragged through the water with my own eyes. “
Throughout his life, the wall had protected Yadav and his neighbors from increasingly severe monsoon storms. His house had never been damaged before, but now that the wall is gone, he had to rebuild his house four times in three years.
Every year, thousands of people are killed in India by floods and landslides during the monsoon season, which drenches the country from June to September.
India’s poor, like Yadav, are among the most vulnerable.
“The irony is that the world’s poor are actually victims of climate change,” even if they are not the ones who “created the problem,” said Sunita Narain, director general of the Center for Science and Environment and a veteran. Indian ecologist.
This weekend, world leaders are gathering in Glasgow for the COP26 climate talks as they seek to reduce carbon emissions and prevent a catastrophic rise in global temperatures.
Yet for millions of Indians, promises on paper it will not save their homes. The climate crisis is already at your front door and is tearing down the frame.
Four houses lost in three years
“My house is about 10 by 15 feet and the floor is made of dirt,” Yadav said. “On that ground, we have knocked down wooden poles. We tie them up and then cover them with plastic sheeting. If there is a cyclone or a strong wind, it will be completely ripped off.”
Family members began to put the few valuables they had in plastic bags so they could evacuate quickly. But there is a lot you can protect.
Yadav said that at the time, people were fed up with the authorities and the constant cycle of destruction, evacuation and reconstruction. “How can we live this way?” he said.
“It was around 1:30 in the morning and the debris started to flow down,” Yadav said. “It was raining a lot and we heard him move.”
The residents were again evacuated to the school, where they remain to this day with little running water or electricity and no toilets.
“We have no idea when we will return or have another house,” Yadav said.
“(The authorities) are only saying that we will have housing in three or four days, but nothing is being done. People have lost their jobs and do not have money for food. The system is to blame here.”
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, Mumbai ‘s governing body, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Places are becoming uninhabitable
Muralee Thummarukudy, Acting Director of the Global Disaster and Conflict Resilience Support Branch of the United Nations Environment Program, said slum dwellers tend to live in flimsy structures on the outskirts of cities where the land is less stable and more exposed to natural disasters. They also do not usually have any type of insurance that allows them to rebuild or relocate.
These residents are also more vulnerable to the after-effects of flooding, including the spread of water-borne diseases, groundwater contamination, and loss of food supplies.
Rajan Samuel, Managing Director of Habitat for Humanity in India, says disasters wipe out livelihoods as well as homes.
“The trend that I am seeing is that livelihoods are disrupted with every disaster, and then there is a shelter that disappears as well,” he said. “We need to mitigate both.”
And while the government is now training Indian cities to become “climate smart,” experts say there are many other steps that need to be taken, such as improving evacuation processes and redesigning water systems and other urban infrastructure. .
Narain, of the Center for Science and Environment, existing saying The systems were built “at a time when disasters still happened once every 10 years, once every five years. Now, it’s 10 disasters a year.”
Recent floods, droughts and other devastating weather events “show us very clearly what the future will be,” he added.
Many of those displaced Indians, like Yadav, have no means to relocate and have no choice but to continually rebuild their homes in disaster-prone locations.
Yadav and his family are reluctant to move from their parcel of land in the slum, unless the government provides them with an alternative.
He and his mother now survive on their meager savings, money loaned to relatives, and money earned from pawning their jewelry.
Right now, he’s losing hope and dreading the idea of having to rebuild, once again.
“It’s been going on for so long,” Yadav said. “You never know if the water will flood the house and destroy it.”