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14 Dec 2015 | News

Toilets Clean up Kailash Sacred Landscape

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The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in collaboration with Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) Foundation and Central Himalayan Environment Association (CHEA) conducted two stakeholder trainings cum triggering exercises to introduce community-led total  sanitation and community-led waste management in Didihat and Patal Bhuvaneshwar respectively. The training was led by Dr. Kamal Kar, Founder, CLTS Foundation who is facilitating Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (KSLCDI) in mainstreaming open defecation free (ODF) concept in the sacred landscape.

CLTS is an innovative participatory approach empowering communities to eliminate open defecation (OD) by triggering behavioural change amongst communities in contrast to the traditional incentive or subsidy based approach. It deals directly with, among other things, sanitation and health issues that contribute towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals. The approach entails an immediate visible impact as, by the time the exercise concludes, communities mobilise their resources to stop OD in their villages rather than wait for external assistance.

The endeavour began with the Van Rajis (forest dwellers) at Jamtari where livelihood interventions are being implemented through KSLCDI. Van Raji villages have been selected as pilots as they are still quite remote from the reach of the government and have serious problems relating to OD.

The outcome of the exercise was the formation of a committee agreeing to take steps towards making Jamtari an ODF village by December 30, 2015. Momentum began within days as six members already commenced building their toilets. In addition, a six-month plan is being developed by CHEA to make all the nine Van Raji villages ODF. It is envisaged that the message of ODF Van Rajis settlements will motivate local governments to up-scale the approach across Pithoragarh District leading to an ODF Kailash Scared landscape.

At Patal Bhuvaneshwar, efforts are focused on sustainable solid waste management as part of responsible tourism. A similar triggering exercise was conducted at Patal Bhuvaneswar in which community youth, local shop owners, the temple committee, farmers, and elected representatives of the van panchayats among others participated. Through consultative discussions among the community members, the main issues related to waste management and its solutions were identified.

The immediate outcome was the formation of ‘Patal Bhuvaneshwar Sundar Committee’ who initiated a clean-up campaign immediately. In addition, action plans were developed for managing waste as well as maintaining the temple area. Furthermore, stakeholders were also motivated to leverage funds from the existing temple management committee and support from Swajal Project, Government of Uttarkhand. With this, the stage is set to make KSL climate resilient, ensure clean-water security, promote responsible tourism with standards, and finally, lay the groundwork for a World Heritage Site Status nomination of the sacred landscape.

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