Success Story

World Environment Day : Building Community Resilience in Himachal Pradesh

Hitul Awasthi
Hitul Awasthi

Every year 5th June is celebrated as World Environment Day with an aim to protect our nature and raise awareness among people regarding various environmental issues. Theme of World Environment Day, 2020 is “Celebrate Biodiversity” and will be hosted by Colombia in partnership with Germany. 

The Mountains

The Himalaya, is a highly complex and diversified mountain system, and is considered a life support system for millions of people in uplands and much more in lowlands areas of India. Being change-sensitive and vulnerable to climate change, special conservation practices are required to preserve it’s ecological equilibrium. 

Problems: 

Problems of climate change, pollution, migration, improper urbanization, land degradation and reducing agricultural productivity calls for an urgent need to formulate a policy for sustainable development for Himalayas.  

The fragile ecosystem needs to be managed in an integrated way for the conservation of biodiversity, attaining SDGs and for livelihood security of the people. A project needs to be formulated for the Circular, self-reliant community and Climate Smart Agriculture in Himachal Pradesh. 

National Mission on Himalayan Studies (NMHS): 

NMHS, a central sector grant-in-aid scheme targets to provide much needed focus in the key issues relating to conservation and sustainable management of natural resources in Indian Himalayan Region (IHR), so as to improve quality of life and maintain ecosystem health in the region. 

NMHS also serve to complement and supplement the outcomes of National Mission on Sustaining Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE) anchored by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) under National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). 

Society for Technology and Development (STD)  

STD is a non-profit organization working since 1990 for the welfare of deprived sections of society in Himachal Pradesh and organises various programmes for science and technology development in the region. 

For socio-economic up-liftment of the targeted population, the society organizes various training programs on: Juice, jam, pickle making; Beekeeping and bee-based product making; Vermi-composting; Nursery raising; Bags/purse making; Red clay pottery; Leather tanning and Rain-water harvesting.  

NHMS funded project “Coping with Uncertainty (CwU)” was implemented from 2017-2020 by International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), New Delhi in collaboration with STD, Mandi to build community resilience and to address the impact of climate change which affected the socio-economic conditions of the communities. 

Project Area: 

The proposed project area was Fozal Watershed, which extends to elevations ranging from 1700 m to 1900 m above mean sea level. The area falls under High Hills Wet Temperate zone of Himachal Pradesh and is snow bound from December to March. 

STD conducted various surveys and studies to develop a region-specific and comprehensive Community Development Plans (CDP). It serves as an excellent tool to design and plan activities at local level by following ‘bottom-up’ approach, and helps in empowering local communities and strengthening local institutions to cope with the impacts via medium to long‐term ecosystem based adaptation strategies. 

STD carried out various activities to build up community resilience in the proposed project area and initiated various novel practices that aided in the conservation of biodiversity and natural resources.

Pilot on Agroforestry 

India is the first nation in the world to adopt National Agroforestry Policy (NAP) at World Agroforesty Congress held at Delhi in 2014. Agroforestry help produce food, fuel, fodder, timber, fertilizer and contributes to food, nutritional and ecological security.  

A survey was conducted by the STD to analyze fruit‐tree demand for plantation by the community. Around 6,550 trees were selected on the basis of survey and planted at the site: 

  • Fruit Plants- Apple (5,050), Pear (400), Plum (200), Persimmon (200), Pomegranate (50), Peach (50) 

  • Fodder-Robinia(100),  

  • Forest tree(Deodar) (500).  

Fruit trees were distributed to farmers for planting in their orchards, whereas 500 plants of deodar were planted in forest area, while 100 plants of Robinia were planted on a community land in the project area.  

Plantation campaign in forest area near Dhara Village: 

After taking due consent of respected authority and participants and NOC from Panchayat, fencing work was done and, plantation campaigns were organized on 28th March 2019, 2nd April 2019 and 9th May 2019 in the fenced forest area, at Fozal watershed in Kullu district.   

  • 28thMarch – members of Yuvak mandals of Dhara village, members of Mahila mandals of Dhara and Fozal villages participated in this campaign.  

  • 2ndApril 2019 – Teachers and students  of Government Senior Secondary School and  forest officials of HurrangMandalgarh and Pichlihar forest beats also participated in the campaign 

  • 9thMay 19 – School teachers and students of GSSS, Fozal and members of STD participated in the campaign.  

During these 3 days campaign about 134 persons from community participated and 2,000 saplings of Deodar and 35 saplings of Rubinia were planted.  

Along with plantation activity, participants were made aware about the importance and benefits of trees to maintain and enrich bio-diversity. 

Promoting sustainable energy

Installation of biogas:  

20 biogas plants have been installed in Fozal watershed area and the criteria for selection of beneficiary was to have at least 2 cows. On the basis of this Biogas models made up of Reinforced Fibre Plastic (RFP) were established.  

This step will help in reducing the greenhouse gas emission and increase resilience of local communities. 

Roof Top Solar:  

A 2KW capacity roof top solar system was installed at Government Senior Secondary School Fozal of Hurrang Panchayat in consultation with Principle of School and Education Department, Kullu 

The electricity produced from this system is used in class rooms, to operate computer systems in school and in street lights.  

Distribution and use of LED bulbs in pilot villages:  

LED bulb distribution was done in such a way that each family from community has one. Use of  LED light bulbs save energy bill and carbon emission. 

A total of 5000 LED bulbs distributed to the local communities of 3 Panchayat of Fozal watershed.  

Local watermill improvement: 

A micro hydro energy unit was set up in Upper Beas Basin, at Dobhi, Himachal Pradesh. The mill will help in generation of electricity and provide assistance in processing local agricultural produce. 

Vermi-composting and training on Organic farming 

10 beneficiaries were selected and Vermi-compost pits were constructed for the production of quality organic manure using Eisenia foetida species. 

A three days awareness cum training workshops on organic farming was also organized to make participants aware of climate change and agro-chemicals and its impacts on our life. 

Farmers were recommended to go for organic farming, integrated or mix farming system, crop diversification to enhance plant productivity, quality, nutritional value and soil health and building crop resilience to diseases, insect pest and environmental stresses. 

Training workshops on Disaster Risk Reduction 

Three days awareness cum training workshops on community based Disaster Risk Reduction was organized in Fozal watershed, aimed at spreading awareness about disasters.  

It provided the fundamental information about Disasters, Hazard, Risk, and Vulnerability in Fozal watershed to the communities. A practical exercise or mock drill was conducted on disasters like earthquake, road accident, flood, fire etc.  

Demonstration of improved livelihood : Wool and Felt making 

The community has been doing reasonably good business in wool works however with time it became non remunerative, as it is time consuming, while felting process is less time consuming with very good selling price in the market. So traininging programme was organized to upgrade skills in felt making.

A 12 days training programme on felt making from local sheep wool was organized at village Neri of Pichlihar Panchayat from 20th May, 2019 to 31st May, 2019. To impart hands on training on felt (namda) making two professional trainers Mr. Farooq Ahmmad and Mr. Ali were hired from Srinagar.   

Trained women were registered as handicraft artisan under the National Handicraft Development Programme, so that they can draw benefits from schemes. 

Conclusion

Mountains are very fragile ecosystem and requires special attention for sustainable development. Due to climate change, faulty land use and intensive agricultural practices, many resources are facing over-exploitation. There is an urgent need to work on five thematic areas as outlined by NITI Aayog: Revival of springs in Himalayas, Sustainable tourism, Transformation of shifting cultivation practices, Strengthening skill and entrepreneurship landscape and Data, to be used for informed decision making by multiple stakeholders.   

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