When a man and a woman, two sisters and a brother, came to visit family in rural Uttar Pradesh, they were told to go and buy some food for their two children, they told us.
They had come to the city of Amethi to buy water from a nearby village.
In a state that is known for its poverty, this was a challenge for the couple.
The men and women, both farmers, had been living on their own for three years.
The men had taken out loans to buy their own land and were not able to make their repayments.
But they had managed to buy enough food to feed the two children.
As they walked to the market, they saw the first food available for sale.
“It was a little bit cold,” one of them recalled.
As the men went to buy more food, the water supply became scarce.
After some time, the men had to decide to buy some water.
But it was not enough to cover their families water needs.
It was hard to know how to pay the bills.
We were struggling to find some money,” said the husband.
A few days later, they decided to buy a new water tank for their family.
Then, the couple found that it was too expensive.
They could not afford the new tank.
They then had to take it out of the village and sell it.
The water in their family’s household had already run out.
With a debt of about Rs. 4 lakh, the husband and his family had to pay off all their debts. “
We had to sell this water tank to pay our water bills,” the husband said.
With a debt of about Rs. 4 lakh, the husband and his family had to pay off all their debts.
The family also had to find another source of income.
Two weeks later, the man was able to borrow Rs. 1 lakh from his brother and sister-in-law to buy the next tank.
Three months later, his household had more than Rs. 15 lakh in the bank.
The two sisters, too, were struggling.
They bought a water tank and bought a new refrigerator.
“But we still did not have enough money,” the sisters said.
The husband and the women said that they had no choice but to sell the tank to make ends meet.
But it was difficult to sell water because the water tank was not available at the time.
“There was no water for sale, no water tank,” the family said.
“Even the neighbours did not sell the water.
They used to buy from us,” the wife said.”
We were having trouble paying our bills and our families did not pay us.
Even we used to take the bank credit card,” said a third sister.
Since the family had not been able to sell their tank, the sisters decided to pay for the new water tanks.
The couple sold the water tanks at a loss of around Rs. 10,000.
“This is a huge financial burden for us,” said one of the sisters.
“It is very painful for us and the other sisters,” the sister added.
According to an official survey, the poorest households in India have an average debt of Rs. 35,000 per annum.
The average annual income of the poorest families in the country is Rs. 5,000, according to a 2013 survey by the National Sample Survey Organisation.
In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the ratio of the debt to income is also very high.
According to the latest data available, there are a total of 7,076 families in Uttar Pradesh of which 3,097 are farmers.
Of these, 6,962 have an annual income under Rs. 2.4 lakh.