Fellow Since 2003
Maroo - Ara
This profile was prepared when Khatau Jani was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
Khatau grew up in the Thar region of Pakistan, near the border with India. He knows the crisis of thirst and famine that drought can bring to the millions of people and animals who live in this and other arid areas in the region. Through a combination of on-the-ground reporting and citizen involvement, Khatau brings relief to drought-stricken areas of the country and uses existing media channels to influence important policies. Policymakers have come to rely on Khatau's own news stories and reports to show the way to judicious allocation of resources, but Khatau sees that one person working alone cannot solve a problem of this size. Thus, he is stringing together a network of supporters–citizens, journalist peers, and government officials–in a national effort that joins fact-finding, investigative reporting, citizen lobbying, and news campaigns to affect public policy and bring relief to drought-stricken areas. He is setting up press clubs in villages and cities and has established a committee to coordinate government and citizen efforts to curtail drought and provide relief when drought strikes. His efforts have led to such changes as allowing the movement of wheat in disaster areas during the standard ban period, as well as the revival of drought-monitoring operations. Currently, Khatau is using his network to advocate district-level oversight of drought "declaration," a policy change that would speed up the response time to disaster by eliminating the need to first declare, formally and at a national level, the onset of a drought. He is establishing press clubs and preparing local volunteers to take advantage of constructive changes in the news industry that will allow him to spread his work to other areas.