Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Breathing Life in Himalayan Regions

Climate change is affecting ecosystems all over the world and the Himalaya mountain range is no exception. Due to the rise in carbon footprint, approximately 700 million people living in the Himalayan region are facing serious issues related to food, water and livelihood. Their quality of life has declined to a great extent due to the constant damage being caused to the environment. At a time when environment degradation is having adverse effects on the existence of people, social enterprises such as Grassroots come as a relief to Himalayan states such as Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. This is a voluntary non-profit organization that works for the promotion of sustainable development at the village level.

Regions across the Himalaya are facing acute shortage of clean drinking water. Due to the effects of climate change, streams have dried up and the traditional system for water collection is not enough for local needs. To solve this issue, Grassroots assists local villagers with grants to create infiltration wells. Traditional food security has also got affected due to the destruction of Himalayan forests. Since many families are finding it difficult to make a living, Mahila Umang Samiti was set up with the help of Grassroots women in 2001. Umang is helping thousands of women from the Kumaon region make a living by selling pickles, fruit preserves, knitted wollens, natural spices, beeswax and natural honey.

Started by Kalyan Paul and Anita Paul, Grassroots has given hope to thousands of young people who would have otherwise migrated to big cities for income. Governments have also started adopting sustainable development projects in Himalayan regions with Grassroots as the advisory or monitoring agency. Grassroots’ aim of forming a collective, empowering it and letting it work has been successful so far in the form of ‘Umang’.

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