Imagine spending hours every day in the forest gathering food for your family and fodder for livestock.
Now imagine that, one day, the forest is gone.
What would you do?
For the women of Uttarakhand, the forest is an important symbol of life and part of the everyday culture to which they are strongly connected – and it is in danger of disappearing forever.
“Women have been entrusted with the responsibility of fetching firewood, collecting leaves, branches and fruits and other forest produce for sale. Fodder for cattle also comes from these forests. It is an important source for our livelihood, for our children.”
Increased global demand for products has led to large corporations cutting down trees and causing deforestation which, as a result, diminishes the supply of provisions for families and villages.
Roads that used to be lined with trees are now framed by a desolate sea of stumps. The deforestation in Uttarakhand has led to rising temperatures and erratic rainfall, resulting in depleted natural resources.*
In a community with limited access to natural resources, conservation is crucial. If the environment is compromised, so too is the food and firewood they rely on.
In the face of this, Basanti is working tirelessly to strengthen the age-old and unique Uttarakhand institution of “forest councils” to protect the forests for generations to come.
“Our engagement with the forest makes it inevitable for us to feel more responsible for protecting what we consider living, breathing creatures.”
The elected women of Uttarakhand have banded together to relentlessly fight the increased deforestation that has led to environmental degradation. By vocalising the imminent threat to their environment, they have re-established 50 forest councils to educate government workers about the threats and ensure the forest is protected in government policy. Under their supervision, thousands of saplings are being planted to help repair the damage that has been done to their local ecosystem.
“We are the carers of the forest.”
Women like Basanti depend on the forest to feed their children and animals. These women are the ones who will fight against the impending deforestation and ensure a sustainable future for every family in their village.
Yours in ending hunger,
CEO, The Hunger Project Australia
*Government of Uttarakhand