Laya makes a difference in empowering marginalized communities

Climate Crisis and Sustainable Development

Climate Friendly Technologies

LAYA has been promoting a unique mix of climate friendly technologies to improve access for domestic needs, village based clean water solutions and irrigation in a way that does not impinge on reducing groundwater. The blend of technologies has been effectively adapted to suit diverse contexts and locations. This intervention becomes very relevant particularly in water-scarce rain-fed areas especially where climate change is impacting rainfall patterns. These are decentralised technologies where the energy generated is produced, owned, controlled, managed and utilized by local adivasi communities. These include:

Improved Energy Efficient Cookstoves

LAYA has been involved in promoting improved cookstoves technology since 2009 addressing household pollution levels and benefitting especially women’s drudgery in fetching large quantities of wood from far off locations. Today we have outreached more than 11,000 families with improved cookstoves through a voluntary carbon reduction mechanism which has benefitted both the community households and environment.We are pleased to state that the 3rd issuance for a Gold Standard Project has resulted in the emission reduction of 11,748 CO2 and has generated as many VER Certificates in the period from January 1st – December 31st

Bio-sand Filters for Access to Clean Drinking Water

LAYA, promotes bio-sand filters in the Adivasi region of North Coastal Andhra Pradesh. In a detailed study carried out by an expert the bio-sand water filter was selected as the most suitable technology for adivasi areas to ensure clean and healthy drinking water. The bio-sand Filter is a zero energy water filter for point of use application,which is an adaptation of the traditional slow sand filter for intermittent use, making it suitable for household use.

Subsequently we have been involved in creating pilots in 4 districts of Andhra Pradesh and have so far constructed 300 such filters. The filters were received very well, with positive feedback from the community. However as the Adivasis are unable to afford the cost of the water filters we are seeking corporate sponsors to support BioSand Filters (BSFs) through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to make more filters available to Adivasis wherever possible.The advantage of this technology is that it also removes turbidity and quality of water improves with time. There are no on-going costs, no replaceable parts. It is durable and robust, fabricated from local materials small enough to fit into the smallest kitchen and is easy to maintain. The technology will provide safe drinking water, without the necessity of boiling water on traditional cookstoves.

We hope that generous support from the corporate community will make a significant impact on women and children’s health through these water filters.

Gravity Flow and Hydram Technologies

These technologies work best in hilly, rural areas where Adivasi women, particularly have to carry water for long distances over steep terrain. The water used for the ‘gravity flow’ is from a natural spring or perennial source of flowing water which is tanked and then fed into taps in the heart of the community, using earth’s gravity. This means that there is no need for expensive pumps thereby reducing the requirement of overall costs.

The infrastructure of gravity flow systems consists of a running spring, a main pipeline including a pipe bridge, an elevated reservoir tank and a distribution network that leads to a central location in a hamlet or village. The hydram technology is ideal where there is a need to uplift water up to the height of a residential habitat. Its basic ingredient is a hydraulic ram pump, an automatic pumping device, which uses a large flow of water falling through a lower head, to lift a small flow of water through a higher head. In simple words, this renewable energy technology uses power available from flowing water to lift a certain volume of water to a greater height where it is required. The moving parts of the hydram are only two valves; therefore, it is mechanically very simple. This gives high reliability, low operating costs, minimal maintenance and a long operation life to the system.

Today, approximately 600 Adivasi households benefit by access to water from these schemes in the East Godavari, Visakhapatnam and Vizianagaram districts. In addition, thanks to these systems about 80 acres of land is subject to irrigation. Some of the families have shown an annual increase of Rs. 35,000 per acre from growing cashew now. However, these systems most importantly have allowed for domestic water access at the doorstep, thus reducing the drudgery and time spent in collecting water from far away and steep locations.

Slow Sand Water Filter

The Slow Sand Water Filter (SSWF) has been introduced recently, improvising the technology of the BSF to suit village access. Spring water quality may not meet drinking water standards at all times and can be particularly impaired after heavy rainfall. LAYA has set up three such systems in the East Godavari and Visakhapatnam districts. The hydram or gravity flow technology supplies the water to the SSWF. The tanks can hold 1000 litres of filtered water for the community. The total number of households that benefit from this system is about 88 households.

Waste-to-energy Regeneration in Ashram schools

This is a new initiative taken up in residential Ashram schools. LAYA has been working on climate change education in Ashram schools and so we suggested the idea of converting all the waste (food/organic and paper/inorganic) as a source of fuel to improve the efficiency of cooking and heating water where possible. The bio-gas that is generated can then reduce the use of LPG for cooking. Additionally, water heater incinerators can be used to burn all the dry trash, such as paper, plastic and fallen leaves around the school. Through this process, hot water is generated that will be directly made accessible to the school kitchen. The pre-heated water will enable faster cooking resulting in reduced fuel use either in terms of bio-gas, LPG or dry fuel wood use.

IRCON International Limited, a Public Sector Unit, involved in construction activities and services in the construction sector],as part of their CSR, sanctioned a project of waste to energy regeneration in 10 Ashram schools. As of April 2019, all 10 Ashram schools have been equipped with bio-gas plants and water heater/incinerators. 9 schools are based in the Adivasi areas of Andhra Pradesh and 1 school located in the remote area of Vizianagaram District. In this past year we have also built 2 additional systems in 2 major schools increasing the number of Ashram schools covered under this initiative to 12 Schools. The feedback from the school authorities has been quite positive.All most all the schools reported a significant (25 – 30%) saving in LPG.

Climate Change Awareness and Education

LAYA’s perspective entails creating a learning environment, where diverse target groups are enabled to understand the various environmental and climatic changes, how to cope with the changes and over time build increasing resilience as a community. With a vision to contribute to transforming the environment with which communities have a symbiotic relationship.

Our strategy hence has been to engage with different target groups and promote learning tools to engage with a climate changing environment.

Local and State Level

Building community resilience in a climate changing environment implies revisiting assumptions of understanding changing weather behavior, application of newer farming methodologies technology options contextualized within changing grassroots realities. There is little doubt that climatic variations present an additional challenge as it increases the risks of managing natural resources and addressing issues of agricultural productivity, on which many Adivasi communities depend. As owners of their ancestral domain, there is a huge scope to maximize benefits such that sustainable farming could become not only a source of survival but also an enterprise in the long run.

LAYA has developed a Climate Change Education course to introduce the concepts and knowledge of climate change within the context of sustainable development and to encourage a sense of activism on climate change and sustainable development issues for class 9 students in the Adivasi area.

Apart from the formal school engagement, LAYA has been closely involved in strengthening governance by building institutional capacity to enhance climate resilience. This has involved empowering village and city level institutions like the women and youth groups, the gram sabhas, village heads, school teachers, schools and local government officials across key departments.

National Level

In our endeavor to build resilience, LAYA in collaboration with The Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC) has been involved with reaching out to diverse groups through the process of Climate Change Education. These initiatives reach out to NGOs, schools, colleges, citizen groups, urban professionals, entrepreneurs and media across the country, by:

The engagement is threefold:

Community Resilience to Climate Change

LAYA’s intervention with over 900 tribal farmers has translated into developing a basket of good practices which, when taken together, works as a pragmatic model towards building community resilience to climate change. As we continue this process, even more farmers are included in this journey towards reducing climate induced vulnerabilities by improving food and nutritional security, generating improved incomes thereby building resilience.

Given our experience, we promote a package of practices that includes sustainable farming practices, introduction of decentralised renewable-based energy technologies, and climate education which we consider as a contribution to community resilience.

The value of each of the practices from our experience is that they contribute to food security, increased income and the improved health of the soil. The assumption is that when these practices are simultaneously adopted by a particular farmer, along with the climate friendly technologies, the overall resilience of the family increases by making food available throughout the year, adding to annual income as well as sustaining the fertility of the soil.

Policy and Advocacy

Climate Change and sustainable development advocacy at LAYA is done at various levels involving diverse stakeholders.

State, national, regional and international level in collaboration with the Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC)

Local Level

Advocacy relates to areas of climate adaptation through sustainable farming approaches, context specific low-carbon technologies and climate change education and awareness.

State Level

The engagement takes place with state level officers from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Forests, Urban Development Department as well as the Ministry of Education to draw their attention to climate responsive models of change (on forest, agriculture, health, water, education, etc.) that is developed at the community level. The idea is to leverage these departments to scale up these decentralised and people centric solutions.

National Level

The advocacy is undertaken together with INECC and its partners on several aspects, such as on:

Networking: Collaboration with the Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC)

INECC is a national network of organisations and individuals, who connect on the issue of climate change from the perspective of marginalised communities. It was initiated in 1996 by a few development practitioners in India, who saw the link between the climate crisis and the larger issues of sustainable development and social justice.

INECC works to bring climate change and sustainable development concerns of the marginalised majority and bring their voices into policy dialogues.

LAYA has been one of the key founder members of the network and acts as its Secretariat.

Consultative Status : UN Economic and Social Council
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