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This Citizen-Led Cleanup Drive Helped Clean 10,000+ Kg Of Waste From River Ganga

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As part of Earth Day Network’s Great Global Cleanup Campaign, a citizen-led initiative was launched to clean the river Ganga.
The Ganga is one of the largest rivers in the world with a length of approximately 2525 km. Unfortunately today, this river which is considered holy by many Indians has the ignoble distinction of being heavily polluted with all the waste and the chemicals that go into it.

The river is a source of livelihood for millions of people living on or close to the banks of the Ganga, its many tributaries and its major distributary – the Hooghly.  The Central Pollution Control Board reports that the use of chemicals affects anyone who uses water from the Ganga for drinking, bathing, or cooking, and also affects the crops grown in fields irrigated with it. The high pollution levels are also killing large populations of fish and other forms of aquatic life in the river.

Taking cognizance of this, Earth Day Network–India launched a landmark citizen-led cleanup of the river Ganga as part of worldwide plans to mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. We launched The Great Global Cleanup in Devprayag on April 13, 2019, on the auspicious occasion of Vaisakhi—the New Year for many in India.

Great Global CleanUp

With less than 100 days to go to #EarthDay2020, what are your plans to commemorate #EarthDay? This is the 50th Anniversary, so think big. Be part of the #GreatGlobalCleanup and organise cleanliness drives in your neighbourhoods. Earth Day Network-India has been creating awareness to #EndPlasticPollution all along the Ganga River with volnteers doing cleanups. Share your plans with us on earthdaynetworkindia@gmail.com to get recognition on our FB page and internationally. Mobilise for the Earth. Mobilise for the Earth

Posted by Earth Day Network-India on Wednesday, January 15, 2020

It is here that the rivers Alaknanda and Bhagirathi merge to form the River Ganga. Led by Earth Day Network-India and our partner organisation, the Lok Paryavaran Shiksha Sansthan (LPSS), the campaign saw a nine-day rally that ended at Haridwar. It was flagged-off by the renowned environmentalist, Padma Shri Dr Anil Joshi.

Thousands of students, villagers, ashramites, and community groups took part in creating awareness among tourists, residents, traders, and the public to not litter plastic and other waste around the river banks. Multiple cleanup drives resulted in 10,000+ kgs of plastic waste collected and handed over to the Municipal Corporation for scientific disposal.

On October 2, 2019, a 28-km padayatra (foot march) from Rishikesh to Haridwar reminded people of the need to #EndPlasticPollution. Awareness campaigns that followed intensified outreach to 5,000 students and teachers.

In addition, with public support, 10,000 trees were planted along the banks of the river to increase the green cover.  Also, 10,000 cloth bags were distributed free to the public, to provide an alternative to single-use plastic bags. With the multiple usages of cloth bags, a reduction of around 2,50,000 single-use plastic bags has been foreseen.

Other spots on the river have also seen cleanup drives, including Varanasi, Patna, and the river’s delta in the Sunderbans. Some 25 initiatives have brought together 11,000 volunteers to clean up the banks of the river’s distributary – the Hooghly – as it passes by Kolkata.

Campaigns have also taken place near river Ganga’s many tributaries in Uttar Pradesh. A unique community-led initiative saw unprecedented success, as the Kali River, a tributary that had died as it was choked with garbage, was brought back to life! Villagers at the expected source of the river donated their land so that the debris could be cleared to enable water to flow again.  And it did!

Aside from cleanups and increasing the green cover, campaigns to protect endangered species are also part of the initiative, for example, to bring the Gangetic River Dolphins back to Varanasi.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in April 2020, many more cleanups will take place across the world. We appeal to you, as a citizen of the Earth, to do your bit to help clean up our planet.

Record your efforts here and inspire others across the globe. The site also provides information on cleanups that have been planned in several places that you can join.

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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 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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