The preservation and restoration of the Environment has been critical and infact has helped
shape all of our initiatives - from teaching school children about the place of snakes in the natural cycle to
dissuading farmers from growing the water intensive and soil destructive sugarcane.
We do recognise that environmental issues are however not usually at the forefront of a villagers concerns when he is struggling to simply feed the family. It has been our position that we must link these issues - of environment and livelihood- to truly secure commitment to restoration. Thus a lot of our agricultural programs have an educational element as do our initiatives on irrigation, health and income generation. We have found that relying on traditional wisdom and myth, is usually helpful and often the most interesting and useful suggestions come from the villagers themselves!
We are aggressive in initiating and funding Afforestation. In association with the forestry department as well as local governmental agencies we plant an average of 8,000 trees a year. We have discovered that planting is only a small part of the task - keeping trees watered and protected from grazing cattle is a far greater problem. Thus we have scaled back sheer numbers to focus on keeping the trees alive.
We have also experimented with smokeless chullahs (cooking fires) which not only help prevent vision problems but also consume only half the firewood. They have been introduced in 2 villages so that we can deal with problems and overcome resistance before introducing them on a wider scale.
We introduced the novel method of effective utilization of farm and household waste in obtaining natural manure rich in minerals known as Vermicompost. Using varieties of the common earthworm the waste is converted into a rich compost providing both an alternative to chemical fertilizers and to a cleaner living environment.
Gharda Foundation, 6B Gharda House, 48 Hill Road, Next to Elco Market, Bandra (W), Mumbai 400 050, Maharashtra, INDIA.Tel: +91 22 66265600 Fax : +91 22 26404224