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Why Developing Countries Cannot Afford To Wait For Help To Tackle Climate Change

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In the last two decades, much talk, discussions, deliberations and comments have been made on one of the most pressing issues of all times – the threat of climate change and its consequences for future generations.

Sustainable development has been widely targeted by policy-makers and civil society. From the landmark Kyoto Protocol in 1997 to the Paris Agreement, internationally binding climate change agreements have come a long way where constant hiccups thrown by the leading global powers have been a regular phenomenon.

Promises have been made but the evident results aren’t promising. If we maintain the same pace to tackle climate change, then the future doesn’t look too bright.

The Paris Climate Agreement anticipated that developmental assistance from the leading countries would amount to $100 billion by 2020 in the Green Climate Fund. After more than 18 months, it has only $10.3 billion in its kitty.

If financial grants are disbursed at this rate, it will take another decade to fulfil what the agreement initially envisaged and would thus waste all the promises, efforts and commitments which have been made. And if this happens, it would be a travesty for climate justice.

We are witnessing climate change happen. This is backed up by scientific evidence published in esteemed journals. However, one thing which is missing is a sense of moral responsibility from the developed nations to lead the way in fulfilling the objectives of climate change agreements.


The question we need to ponder is why the delivery of the commitments mentioned in these agreements is happening at a snail’s pace. This is a question which those who are vulnerable to the results of climate change – members of civil society including youngsters – would like answered. And we are waiting.

Encouraging initiatives are being taken now by the vulnerable countries in Asia, Africa and South America. Navigating across the three continents, it can be observed that courage is mostly shown by them in tackling the menace of climate change by taking developmental efforts in their own hands. Because waiting for funds which come under unfavourable conditions is something they cannot afford.

Thembinkosi Dlamini, Oxfam South Africa economic justice lead commented that the donor countries prescribe policy for those who receive funds and direct them towards technology which aids the donor countries in driving the sales of their products.

Bearing the pain of an uncertain future, Kenya leads the trend. They have started to mobilise their own funds and have started up policies to facilitate financing, by establishing the Kenya Climate Change Act 11 of 2016. Bangladesh started a climate change resilience fund, which has already spent $400 million from its national coffers.

The Indian government established the National Adaptation Fund on Climate Change (NAFCC) in 2015 with an objective to assist the State and Union Territories that are highly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change for designing adaptation and mitigation strategies. From identification of projects to capacity building events, India’s National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is entrusted with carrying out the responsibility.

The initiative has identified key vulnerable regions across the length and breadth of the country like Punjab, Odisha. Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Assam etc. for projects and funding.

For example, the Kaziranga National Park has been offered funds of ₹24 crore under the National Adaptation Fund on Climate Change for the project, “Management of Ecosystem of Kaziranga National Park by Creating Climate Resilient Livelihood for Vulnerable Communities through Organic farming and Pond Based Pisciculture”.

Kaziranga National Park is located in flood prone zone and floods create havoc annually for the settlements and natural wildlife. A sanctioned project at this hour to combat the devastating natural calamities is a welcoming.

In the Indian context, especially Assam – the northeastern state with a flourishing tea and petroleum industry – is struggling in the face of climate change. This has a significant impact on the economy. Recurring annual floods, which have their origin in both natural and anthropogenic sources, have been a bane for the region.

Because of the changing climate in the region, the tea production is highly affected. About 480-490 million kg of tea is produced annually in Assam, which accounts for 51% of India’s total tea production. It is important to devise strategies for continuing production using sound scientific technology, modern equipments along with climate-resilient techniques.

Researchers found that the production quantity has been fluctuating. Due to climate change, the quality is being massively affected and steps to mitigate it should be taken to stop the quality from deteriorating further. Assam tea has its own charm worldwide and any quality deterioration would hamper the stimulating signature aroma Assam tea has for its consumers.

Hampering the scale of production would also affect the livelihood involved of those involved in the tea industry. The labourers and small scale tea-industry entrepreneurs would find it difficult to cope with the changing times ahead.

In 2016, Assam became the first state in India to officially adopt the agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, 2030 in its development policies – a watershed event in the region’s history of governance. Complacency has crept in without evidence of progress and development in the state. With important issues at stake, the state government cannot afford to stay complacent.

With plenty of options available, it is up to the concerned authorities to start brainstorming on generating funds, welcoming friendly low-carbon industry investments, initiating eco-entrepreneurship at the grassroots and community development programmes. Sitting back isn’t an option. Climate is changing fast, and policies need to be adopted at a war-footing pace. Blaming climate change alone won’t do any good; it is upto us who have to make responsible, reasonable and ethical choices in order to create a sustainable impact.

With the beginning of NAFCC, it has been a slow but encouraging dawn of a new era. But the disconnect which is observed at the international gatherings and the respective nations which are yearning for assistance is something worth pondering upon.

The climate is changing, and efforts to mitigate it shouldn’t be a less prioritised area. Climate finance would play an important role in adopting strategies and transforming the strategies into reality for a brighter and greener tomorrow.

The need of the hour is to take action rather than observing mere rhetorics in high-level forums.


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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.

        Read more about his campaign.

        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.

        Read more about her campaign.

        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.

        Read more about her campaign. 

        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.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        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.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
        biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

        Bidisha was selected in’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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