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A Few Important Things We SHOULD Do Before Climate Change Goes Out Of Hand

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By Mahitha Kasireddi:

Would you agree that the entire mankind is indebted forever? The entire human race is guilty of repeated encroachment, exaction and mass abuse of nature. The highest virtue of the universe, “Humanity”, has failed in upholding the condition and sanctity of the ecosystem. We have uncovered, groped, ripped apart mother nature, committed unimaginable offences and left her to languish in deep depravity. Imagine mother nature appearing in front of us in her grave deformity, weeping inconsolably, seeking answers from all of us and our progeny. Imagine her fighting for justice, for her right to stay uninjured, reacting with vengeance, demanding trail and punishment to her offenders.

climate change

We all are facing it already. We are the casualties of the very nature we exploited. Have you observed the unpredictable weather patterns? Have you ever pondered over number of deaths due to heatstroke and cold waves? Why is there so much water shortage? Why are countries such as Nepal and Bangladesh importing food grains despite being agrarian societies? We have entered in to a pathetic status where the political parties in the country are debating over auctioning of water resources. The reason is not something we aren’t aware- Global Warming. The rise in temperatures due to greenhouse gases alters the climate of India in many ways. Less than 4 degrees warming the east coast and southern India will experience high temperatures in the coming years. Urban areas are prone to converting into ‘heat-lands‘, a dangerous development. 2 degrees rise in world’s average temperature will make the Indian summer monsoons highly unpredictable which could trigger frequent droughts or greater flooding. Crops yields are expected to fall drastically by 2040 due to extreme heat, which could lead to a food crisis situation in turn effecting food prices. Global warming generates a vicious cycle where no aspect is to escape, it effects economy, health, water security, energy security, food security and impacts lives to a remarkable extent. Despite facing repercussions year after year we haven’t yet amended our culture, our household practices. The way we dispose waste, the fuel consumption, electricity consumption, non-implementation of no-plastic policy says it all. Off course we are no way going to compromise on our extravagant lifestyle.

India is surely proud of her long east coastline, but there are reasons to be worried as well. This year has been the most intimidating for those living along the coast, three cyclones and many more yet to hit the coast. The Bay of Bengal has shown a long history of intense tropical cyclones. The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) has ranked India to be highly vulnerable to extreme weather disasters. The families of fishermen and farmers are on repeated evacuation and restoration disaster after disaster. India is particularly vulnerable to climate change due to its high population density and increasing pressure on resources to sustain growth.

Climate change and poverty should be studied together, they are inseparable. Each time a calamity occurs, people are ripped off their shelter and livelihood. Resilience to hazards in rural areas is minimum. Those living in deadly poverty will be further impoverished. There’s absolutely no security to their lives. Most of the farmers do not own land of their own; they work on lease in other’s farms. Fishermen on the other hand cannot hope to cope without financial aid from the state. Floods and droughts are going to be more frequent and down the years the area of land under influence of disasters is expanding. The sea levels effect salinity levels in turn. Studies say that around 125 million people across Bangladesh, India and Pakistan could be rendered homeless due to rising sea levels.

Different South Asian countries have drafted their own National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA), such as Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Srilanka, Pakistan. Adaption to climate change has a close relation to sustaining livelihood. It involves identifying different types of hazards by collaborating scientific and local knowledge. Analysing the impact caused to different groups within that community. Above all, the biggest challenge is to see the capitalization of action plans both in policy and practice. Lobbying for political will and conviction is a task to accomplish primarily. Strengthening collaboration between various stakeholders working on disaster management, such as NGOs, local government and private sector is most needed. In order to treat the issue from its roots, analysis on the cause behind disasters should be done, to reduce the risk, preparedness and management, addressing current hazard, increasing adaptive capacity of communities. There is a need to address poverty and vulnerability in public policy and climate resilient livelihood strategies should be drawn.

Apart from these, to build make communities resilient, local people living in disaster prone areas should be mobilized. They should be called for effective participation to achieve adaptive capacity. They should be educated on sustainable water management, water storage, flood regulation through growing mangroves, effective management of grasslands to improve resilience to drought and flooding. The village level administration should be guided in setting up local action plans called ‘community based planning’ which involve the local people in important decision making.

phailin1

While all this is a functional approach towards resisting a climate change development, the perpetual action is promotion of best practices in land, water and natural resources management. General awareness should be disseminated among all sections of society about green habits and the importance of transforming to conservation. Every one of us leading comfortable, less vulnerable lives in urban areas have every scope in contributing towards improving the situation. Simple habits which can be incorporated in to our daily life, such as responsible usage of water, fuel and electricity, minimal usage of air conditioners, disposal of waste in a smart manner, that is by arranging separate bins for organic and inorganic waste, carrying our own cloth bags each time we go shopping, recycle and reuse of objects etc. Disaster management does not only mean to deploy the state machinery in saving a drowning life but also in restoring the ecological balance through ecosystem based approaches and invoking a sense of social responsibility in all towards our environment through persistent campaigning. Individual cognizance and responsibility is the need of the hour, change shall embark first from households, so let us all pledge towards an emission free, sustainable and green future.

Click here. Support the survivors of Phailin to rebuild their livelihoods and lives.

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks via Compfight cc

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  1. romitalfred1991

    Like your article. I hope the realization of climate change comes soon to all the people of the world. Its a joke to many when spoken about this topic. Now we are all worried about economy of our Country. And our Country is focusing on developing without even valuing the people in the country. So climate is like a big question whether they understand what is it about.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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