South Asia

Category Archives: Project News

Youth Interviews: Environmental Activists – Monu Vishvakarma

Meet 29-year-old Monu from Ganj Basoda.Brought up by his grandmother, Monu has struggled with a tragic past when he lost both his parents at a young age. It was through Prasoon—tdh partner that Monu got in touch with the youth network. At the time Monu had quit his studies due to austerity at home and started working as a worker at a stone quarry. With help from the youth network, he was able to complete his education and now even coaches children from the village free of cost.

Monu’s village UrdoniPatharin Vidisha District is primarily a stone area where most people work as workers in the quarry. The area is completely arid with no sight of greenery. Monu, along with the youth from the network,planted saplings of 140 variants and 116 trees. In no time did they convert the village area from a region of stones and concrete to a green pasture. Soon their initiatives spread out to achieve greater results.

Due to the extreme dry weather all the wells in Monu’s village had dried up. The community did not pay attention to it initially, however, Monu and all the other youth decided to conserve rain water in the wells. They collectively cleaned the wells and harvested rain water in the wells. 150 families in the village were able to use well water, especially during the Covid lockdown where sourcing water for drinking also had become difficult.

Monu and the youth network worked extensively to provide families in the village with kitchen gardens using organic manure. Approximately, 80 families benefitted from their kitchen gardens and 150 families from water from the well. In what can be called as an incredible achievement, the entire village used their kitchen gardens to source vegetables and fresh organic produce during the Covid lockdown.

Monu’s endeavours tell us that with the right will, pastures can grow in stones.


Youth Interviews: Environmental Activists – Pallavi Mohabe

Meet 17-year-old award-winning environment champion, Pallavi Mahobe. Pallavi lives in an urban slum in Ishwar Nagar, located in the capital city of the western state of Madhya Pradesh. Pallavi is an example of how children living in urban slums interact with their environment. Urban slums in India are shanties that have erupted in the vicinity of a city. Set up as erratic spaces, urban slums are categorised by the unsanitary living conditions such as burning heaps of dump in slum settlements, and so on.

Meera Nagar, Ishwar Nagar is one of the largest slums in Bhopal that incidentally is also the largest garbage dumping ground. The dumping ground is used to burn heaps of garbage collected across 5 zones in the city. On many occasions, the fire from the garbage burning would spread to the adjacent slum huts and shanties. The dumping ground would also emanate a stinky stench as pits for mosquito breeding.

Pallavi took up the mantle to stop this hazardous practise from polluting the environment. She, along with the youth members of NIWCYD—a tdh partner, decided to raise their voice against it. And raise their voice they did! They wrote letters to the Municipality Commissioner, a pursuit taken up by the women committees of the area as well. They used every medium to communicate their message—twitter, Facebook, letters, personal visits. Resultantly, the Municipal Corporation installed a Waste Recycle Plant in place of the dumping ground. This initiative soon gathered great inspiration and momentum and expanded into an initiative to separate dry waste from wet waste. The children spread awareness in their and neighbouring communities on the importance of waste segregation. Now, 350 families are consciously separating dry waste from wet waste.

Pallavi and her group didn’t stop there, they brought up the issue of waste segregation at a round table discussion organised by the Municipal Corporation Office in Bhopal. The Municipal Corporation vehicle/truck, responsible for collecting garbage from houses indicates its arrival through a song about garbage disposal and waste segregation. Even though the dry waste was being segregated from wet waste, bio-hazardous waste such as medical waste, sanitary waste, wasn’t getting disposed separately. Pallavi and her group used the platform to raise the importance of separating the bio-hazardous waste. Their initiatives bore results and a black box for dumping bio-hazardous was installed by the Corporation to the waste collection vehicle. The awareness song was also modified to include the importance of black box for dumping such waste. Pallavi and team pursued many such other initiatives, such as their campaign on the ban of single use plastic, “BachhokiVasundhar” (Children’s Earth), spread awareness among the employees of Crompton Greaves Company in Raisen to ban plastic bottles and plastic disposal on their campus. Now the entire office building is plastic free!Through their “Roko-Toko”(stop and taunt) campaign, they worked with the shopkeeper committees to install dustbins in the market and impose penalties on those defaulting.

Pallavi’s work has been awarded and recognised by the government of Madhya Pradesh. She is the recipient of Swachhta brand ambassador awarded by Municipal Corporation of Bhopal and with GouravAward by ParyavaranAndolan (The Environment Campaign).


The issue of child labour in India amid and post lockdown

SunainaDevi, a landless farmer,from Prithvipur in Kushinagar, Uttarpradeshlives with her husband and three children. She belongs to a Dalit Mushar family. Agriculture and livestock rearing are the main source of income in her village. Due to limited resources, she is forced to work in the fields of big farmers and her husband works as a construction labourer.Sunaina Devi says that her children are studying in government schools. Since schools are closed now, her children like many othersin the village are also spending time together in their homes. The sudden COVID 19 lockdown triggered a food and livelihood crisis among daily wage earners and marginal farmers. It pushed many families to workinthe agricultural fields of big farmers. Her children also started doing agricultural work like plucking vegetables and water melons from the field and loading and unloading them. Sunaina Devi felt that if the situation remains the same, they will not be able to send their children to the school even when they reopen. In the meantime, in the absence of employment many families have taken loans from the big farmers and moneylenders. The burden of debt will force children into agricultural child labour to assist their families. In Kushinagar, total 10247 Mushar families are living in 10 blocks of the district. Out of which children from 3000-4000 families will probably dropout and become agricultural child labourwith their families. Children from 700 Mushar families in 10 villages of SKVS project may continuewith these child labour activitieseven after the lockdown.


Water conservation in Nepal: Sanjeep’s story

Sanjeep hails from the Kavre district in Nepal and has been associated with tdh supported project ARD for several years. He had been associated with the project since a younger age and the project workers recognizing his potential have always encouraged him to participate in project activities and gradually take on the role of a leader. Sanjeep is now the leader of the Youth Network and has been elected from amongst 80 youth across the area to the post. He works with the local government as well and has a deep understanding of ecological issues and challenges his area faces.

His village and the surrounding areas suffer from severe droughts and Sanjeep as the head of the Youth Federation decided to do something to address that. They also knew that the current solution to the drought problem was to dig and create bore wells which would deplete the groundwater and therefore have a negative impact on the environment. Their town was also growing at a steady pace and therefore the demand for water would keep increasing. Sanjeep therefore decided to create a system where they could harvest the rainwater in the surrounding hills and use that in times of drought. He started speaking to the local government and the Ward Chairman to allocate the necessary budgets. They also proposed a plan of creating plantations and vegetation around the rain water harvesting pools and ponds so that it serves the twin purpose of water conservation and creating greenery.

They also created awareness within the community on water conservation and also on beautifying the community by planting trees etc. He also helped the youth understand how this project would benefit them directly. Many of the youth are entrepreneurs who are into animal husbandry and horticulture and this would help as well.

The water conservation project was approved and launched in 2017 and was completed in 2018 and is now benefiting over 30,000 people and Sanjeep couldn’t be happier. The young man dreams of a life where the government would always implement eco friendly policies and people would believe in sustainable living.


A CLEAN GREEN WORLD: SUNIL’S STORY

20 year old Sunil from tdh supported project Sakhi has been associated with the project for 4 years but can safely say that his life has already changed. His village in Hampi is a tourist hotspot in the country and gets a fair amount of income generated from the tourism industry. However there are many issues that the area faces and food insecurity, waste disposal problems are a few of those.

When Sunil first started working with Project Sakhi he would attend a lot of trainings and workshops which helped him understand the problems and issues in the area. The trainings also gave the young boy a way to explore his interests and find a path into a possibly financial secure future. Sunil had a natural flair for photography and through the trainings provided by the project staff began to take an interest in it. In the 4th year of his association with the project Sunil was identified as one of the youth members with potential and was given a fellowship to focus on issues faced by the communities and the area and find solutions. Sunil realized that one of the biggest issues faced by the area was a huge free open space which was being used as a communal dumping ground. The garbage was not being segregated and just being dumped, sometimes some of the more harmful materials like plastic etc would also be burnt in the open giving rise to toxic fumes. Sunil used his expertise in photography and created an awareness campaign around these using descriptive photographs. He then worked with the project and the youth groups to start an interaction with the district headquarters and concerned officials and duty bearers to help them understand the awful situation and request for help.

He also started making the community more aware so that they would not dump their garbage in that space.

After months of campaigning he has finally managed to get more garbage disposal trucks assigned for this area so that the garbage is cleared more frequently and does not stagnate. The community has also actively started waste segregation and there is heightened awareness on not using common spaces as dumping grounds.

To supplement this initiative Sunil has also started kitchen garden activities in 15 villages. He believed that this would not only make the environment greener but would also solve the problems of food insecurity which is a serious concern for the area. His dream is to extend this activity to as many as 100 villages.


Young Anupama lives in the tribal belt of Assam

Young Anupama lives in the tribal belt of Assam where livelihood options are hard to come by. The community itself has many issues and faces high rates of youth unemployment and migration. Tdh supported Project SATRA has been working in these areas for a long time and when Anupama came in contact with the project workers – she was already familiar with the organization and the work they were doing. She first associated with the project directly during a beekeeping workshop that was arranged and soon decided to work more closely with them.

Through repeated sessions and interactions Anupama became more sensitized to the issues that her community was facing and identified over usage of plastic as one of the main environmental hazards. She realized that the excess of plastic usage not only caused a garbage hazard but it also sometimes clogged up drains, affected fields, and crops and could very soon become an uncontrollable threat to the environment.

Anupama has mobilized the youth group to actively take this on and has organized them allocating specific responsibilities to generate awareness, reduce plastic, encourage people to use organic and natural alternatives, and also focus on proper waste disposal.


Curious Creator: Anand

Dariya Pur Village, Munger District, Bihar

Meet the curious 13-year-old-boy, Anand from Dariya Pur Village, Bihar. Drawing inspiration from Greta Thunberg, Anand is a young creator who wants to help his community live sustainably while being environmentally aware and conscious. He is one of the most active members of the youth coalition and is an inspiration to young and old. He speaks enthusiastically about planting trees and even mobilized people to set up kitchen gardens to help them with food produce during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Anand’s village is severely dry, arid land located in the eastern state of Bihar. The region is drought prone and extremely backward, with temperatures recording between 45-47 degree Celsius in summer. Women in the village still use chulha or earthen stoves to cook that requires burning pieces of wood and blowing into a straw to light fire. The emanating smoke settles in the air causing toxic fumes. Anand’s mother would cook on a chulha too—a fact he claims took her life. His mother’s death moved him in many ways. From the tender age of 5, Anand became socially and environmentally aware of his surroundings. His curious mind would wander to experiment with maximum utility eco-saving models to save water, use electricity, and so on. He pledged to help people around him through his climate smart initiatives.

The village he lives in relies on ground water for use. Villagers use hand pumps to extract water from the ground. Every summer, the hand pump in Anand’s house would run out of water as the ground water would dry. Anand experimented with the knowledge he gained from one of the lessons on ground water harvesting taught by experts from DISHA VIHAR, a terre des hommes partner. With help of his friends Anand dug a 3 foot deep pit in the ground outside his house to collect rain water, covered by makeshift cloth panels. His friends followed suit. Over the next months, the boys recorded the amount of rain being received and the amount of water being stored in the pit. In the first instance, the extremely parched ground would soak up rain water, leaving the hand pump still dry. However, the boys continued to record data and the amount of water being stored in the pit.

In about six months, more and more water was available from the hand pump. As per Anand’s own analysis, ‘the amount of time it took to fill a bucket reduced by 5 minutes’. This would mean more ground water for use. Alongside, Anand instilled plank diversions for waste water from kitchen to be diverted into the pit to allow for maximum utility. Resultantly, the hand pump has not run dry in the summer months. Anand, along with his friends have extended support to build similar ground water pits for the village.

Anand relied on his sheer grit, determination and looked upto inspiration from books, You tube, when he was turned away by District Authorities. This young creator is who the world needs today.


Babita: A force to reckon with!

Chaukhutiya Block, Almora District, Uttarakhand

Meet 22-year-old Babita, a ferocious young activist from Uttarakhand. Born to farmer parents and fourth of five siblings, Babita is a force to reckon with. It is said that coming events cast their shadows, Babita is one such force who would not let anything limit her. Aspiring to be a Doctor, she strove to learn–be it as one of the only two girls in her science class, walking 35 KMs daily to attend Post Graduate College in Sciences, or even by fighting gram panchayat elections–her grit is unparalleled.

Babita is inspirational beyond reckoning—an environmentalist and heritage archivist. She is a member of the Uttarakhand Youth Network, which she uses as the platform to raise awareness on environment and ecology.

The losing sense of heritage among people in the community has always disturbed Babita. In order to introduce people to the thriving flora and fauna, she and her youth coalition developed a Shabdkosh or Vernacular Dictionary listing down meticulously, names and types of local vegetation and species that have existed in the area for over centuries. The Dictionary also provides an insight into the various medicinal and ayurvedic benefits of tree barks and other herbs. The Dictionary has been distributed free of cost to community, construction workers, students, teachers introducing them to their heritage.

Babita has also been instrumental in changing the look and feel of the Ramganga River that flows by the banks of Chaukhutiya block in Almora district. Unchecked chemical waste from local factories and waste from the nearby towns and cities routinely flowing into the river not only contaminated the river, but clogged it at end. Babita led the campaign to save Ramganga which soon gathered momentum to become a full-blown social movement, with local residents, businessmen and clubs joining hands. Children from her village took up the mantle of creating a focused awareness drive among the people of Chaukhutiya and its surroundings. In her guidance, more than 200 children and young men along with the Government school children, under the supervision of the AMAN –a terre dess hommes partner, started cleaning the river, within their limited means. They cleaned more than a 2 km stretch of Rāmgangā near the Chaukhutiya market and ensured proper disposal of waste.

The efforts of the young members of the community stirred up actions from several social groups. The Women’s Group submitted a charter of demand and a complaint to the District Legal Services Authority calling for appropriate action against disposing garbage in the river. The Uttarakhand Youth Network also joined the SAVE RAMGANGA campaign and along with the Green Club demanded clean water resources for Chaukhutiya through a memorandum to the Government seeking greater insight into the Government’s waste disposal policy in the state. Following this memorandum, the Government has proposed to develop a 3-hectare waste collection site in Chaukhutiya block. The positive step by the Government is seen to be a direct outcome of the unyielding drive by her and the youth members of the area to keep their river and environment pollution free.

Babita and the Green Club representatives continue tirelessly in their appeals to the community to keep the river clean, through several cleanliness drives and anti-pollution awareness programmes. Recently, a local group called Ramganga Seva Samiti, comprising of civil society members has been formed to keep the river and surrounding area pollution-free. As of September 2017, the group had built more than 300 small dumping areas around the ​​Ramganga banks and has put ample dustbins on the streets. Today, conscious of the benefits of proper waste management and a clean environment, the community refrains from polluting the river.

Like Babita, the entire community is now environmentally sensitive.


Human Rights Council Resolution on Child Rights and the Environment

We are pleased to share with you that the UN Human Rights Council formally adopted a Resolution on Child Rights and the Environment last week. The CERI team is really delighted to have played a key role in delivering this result. Check out our blog on the resolution’s key takeaways and share the good news!

Draft Principles & Policy Guidance for the ASEAN region on child rights and the environment

Following our regional consultation last October, we’ve been delighted to support some exciting follow-up work on child rights and the environment being led by the regional offices of OHCHR, UNEP and UNICEF. During a dedicated workshop in July, a team of adult and youth ASEAN experts came together to develop draft principles for the ASEAN region on child rights and the environment. The organizing team is now calling for inputs on these draft guidelines and policy guidance for implementing them, and we invite you to submit your feedback and amplify the call on social media. Submissions are due by 23 October.

#OurPlanetMyFutureMyRights Webinar for children and youth in ASEAN

To ensure that children and youth from all ASEAN countries have an opportunity to fully contribute to finalizing the ASEAN principles, UNEP, UNICEF, OHCHR, UNMGCY, UNEP MGCY, Asia Pacific Youth Caucus and ASEAN Youth Organization are organizing a dedicated #OurPlanetMyFutureMyRights webinar on 16 October, 16:00-17:30 ICT-Bangkok. It is hoped that the webinar will contribute to a draft statement from ASEAN children and youth calling on ASEAN Member States to take action, in accordance with the draft policy guidance, to guarantee and protect children’s rights to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

Please share widely through your networks, and encourage children and youth to participate (registration form here)!

Global CSO campaign on recognition of the Right to a Healthy Environment

A global CSO Call for global recognition of the right to a healthy environment has received over 900 endorsements! We are particularly delighted that the call strongly emphasises child rights, incorporating text put forward by CERI.

Please help us reach 1000 endorsements by signing up and sharing/promoting this call through your networks, using the #HealthyEnvironment4All or amplifying us on Twitter.

CRC Reporting Guidance

We’re delighted to share new guidance on reporting to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child with respect to children’s environmental rights. The guidance is intended to support civil society organizations with shadow reporting, as well as States, UN agencies and other relevant actors. It is also relevant for reporting to other human rights treaty bodies on these issues, and includes a section on reporting under other relevant international environmental and development frameworks too. Please don’t hesitate to share this widely with your networks!


COVID 19 Awareness Program in Afghanistan

Due to global outbreaks of Corona Virus (COVID 19), our project teams in Afghanistan prepared and handed out over 150 PPE kits (Personal Protection Equipment) to Herat Public Health Department, which will be used for patients. Over and above this hygiene kits are also being distributed to students in Gozara, Karokh, Enjil and Kush-e-Robat Sangi districts in the Herat province. Awareness programs have also been organized in these regions to help people understand how to stay safe.

The Corona virus is spreading very fast among the people of Afghanistan, at the time of updating this report – there are 367 positive cases of COVID 19 in Afghanistan, 240 cases in Herat and 127 cases are in other provinces of Afghanistan. There is also an influx of refugees and the situation might require further intervention in the times to come.