Christian organisation GFA World has called for Christians around the world to pray as a drought in southern India puts hundreds of millions at risk.

GFA World, formerly known as Gospel for Asia, says that as many as 600 million people - almost half of India's population - face acute water shortages with the city of Chennai, capital of the state of Tamil Nadu, only prevented from running out of water entirely when rain arrived on 15th July.

Chennai

The city of Chennai in India. PICTURE: Karl Janisse/Unsplash

The drought in the country's south - which started last year when monsoon rains failed to arrive and was exacerbated by delayed rain this year - comes as monsoon rains lashed the country's north-east and neighbouring Nepal earlier this month, claiming more than 200 lives and affecting some 10 million people.

But in Chennai, the four main reservoirs have run dry and the government has been forced to bring in water by trucks and trains. Prices for water from private contractors has more than doubled since May, according to GFA World.

The organisation's founder, Dr KP Yohannan, said the crisis had reached a "desperation point", particularly in Chennai, the country's sixth largest city.

"Pastors and those in their communities are struggling every day to get enough water for their basic needs,” he said. “The water trucks come only once every two days – and this puts enormous pressure on families desperate for drinking water.”

GFA World quoted one pastor it supports in Chennai saying that coconut trees have withered, cattle have no grass to eat and wells have dried up. The organisation said the water shortages were sparking tensions in the city amid competition for the limited resource.

Yohannan asked people to "please pray and intercede on behalf of those in Chennai".

GFA World has drilled thousands of 'Jesus Wells' across South Asia since it was founded 40 years ago, providing clean water for millions, and has also helped to distribute tens of thousands of BioSand water filters.

Yohannan said the organisation "stands with the people of Chennai at this critical hour and we will do all we can to come alongside families and show them God’s love in practical ways".