An Indian NGO named Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP), in Pune, Maharashtra has bagged the UN Climate Award. It was declared as the winner of Equator Prize 2017 by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for women’s leadership and innovative solutions in climate resilient farming in Marathwada.
This non-profit organisation promotes sustainable community development through empowerment of women at the grassroots level.
SSP is a women-organised climate resilient agro-ecological farming model restoring land and soil, also enhancing livelihoods and food security.
The co-founder of SSP, Prema Gopalan, who has worked for ten years in the clean energy sector, while recognising the local wisdom of women farmers said, “This model empowers women as farmers-decision makers to play a key role in reducing climate risk by diversifying crops and livelihoods, increasing biodiversity while ensuring enhanced levels of food and income security, and protection of nature all at once”.
“They have learnt to be better community leaders. The initiatives they have undertaken are both sustainable and scalable,” she added.
As reported by The Hindu, the SSP project was applauded by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate (UNFCCC) for building a rural distribution network of 1,100 women entrepreneurs enabling access to clean energy, water and sanitation products and services in several communities.
While speaking to The Logical Indian, Anjali Verma, who is one of the employees at Swayam Shikshan Prayog, said, “The project has a complete focus to encourage women farmers to adopt a climate-resilient model that use bio-fertilizers and pesticides, promote preservation and exchange of local seeds, diversify the crop production to reduce the climatic risk and improve the household food consumption”.
“Women farmers also gain decision-making and income control as they only decide the crops to be grown, the sale of surplus, the markets to access for getting a better price,” she added.
The NGO was founded in 1989 and got registered in 1993, since then, this initiative has been introduced in 600 villages with the support from the state government of Maharashtra through the scheme called Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana under Maharashtra State Rural Livelihood Mission. It aims to develop a team of trained women farmers or resource persons who will further reach out to support other women farmers through training and farm demonstrations.
Through this large-scale initiative, SSP aims to amplify women’s status in agriculture and in their families and communities, thereby addressing many inherent social inequalities faced by them through enhancing their agency and leadership.
Due to its good work and dedication, SSP received a UN award for working in clean energy by promoting women in climate change under the Momentum for change Lighthouse Activity Awards in 2016 respectively.
The project has now reached more than 4 million people of disaster and climate affected areas across Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Assam and Odisha.
Under the project, women entrepreneurs make clean energy products accessible to people living in their communities, which helps cut greenhouse gas emissions. The initiative promoted the use of clean cookstoves by more than 100,000 women and households, which saves almost 100 tonnes of firewood per day.
Similarly, the promotion of solar lanterns, biogas cooking units, organic farming, vermicomposting and efficient irrigation technology has also been part of SSP’s efforts to address climate change.
While speaking to The Hindu, Gopalan said that the UN Climate Award is a global recognition for replicable models on clean energy that can help put an end to India’s biomass dependency. The UNFCCC cited how through the promotion of clean cookstoves by women entrepreneurs, over 200,000 women and households now save almost 100 tonnes per day of fuel wood. She added, “Maharashtra has now started allowing women to even supply excess solar energy to the grid. If all Indian states adopt such enabling policies, India can soon become self-sufficient in energy, the clean way.”
The Logical Indian community salutes the initiative taken by Swayam Shikshan Prayog and appreciates the state government for supporting the cause. We hope that the good work to enhance the security and livelihood of women continues.