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Towards a Climate Resilient Panchayat

This topic provides information about SDG goal 13 (Take urgent action to combat climate change) and role of panchayats.

Introduction

Climate is a phenomenon which is continuously changing. The main components of climate are:

  1. Rainfall
  2. Humidity
  3. Temperature
  4. Wind
  5. Sunlight

Some of the factors affecting local climate are:

  1. Slope of the land
  2. Soil depth
  3. Soil type
  4. Cropping pattern
  5. Wet lands
  6. Water bodies
  7. Forests, trees etc.

There are regular patterns for the rain, wind, sunlight etc. and human society developed by matching its agricultural operations with this change. But the patterns may vary and the extremes may change in quantity and time. Some changes may be minor such that they go unnoticed by ordinary people, but some may be major. Whenever such a major change happens with respect to rainfall - excess or lack of rain, wind etc. the effect on agriculture and availability of drinking water can be disastrous.

The major causes of climate change are:

  • The destruction of forests, wetlands and rivers
  • Cutting of trees
  • Usage of fossil fuels
  • Excess use of any form of energy
  • Usage of plastics etc.

Why Panchayats?

Some of the activities mentioned above conform to the subjects of the Panchayats as per the 11th Schedule of the 73rd amendment of the Constitution of India – social forestry and farm forestry, minor forest production, land improvement, implementation of land reforms, land consolidation and soil conservation, minor irrigation, water management and watershed development.

Gram Panchayat can work to

USE IEC STRATEGIES
To sensitize people about practices contributing to climate change and measures to reduce it.
To initiate practices to adapt to climate change
To disseminate weather bulletins to local population.
To develop awareness about climate related hazards like cloud bursts, flood, drought, land slides and extreme cold.
To disseminate the past and current season’s climate pattern to the general public and get the public educated on the same.
PREPARE AND IMPLEMENT Alternate agricultural plans to cope with climatic change.
Plans for conservation of wet lands, forest, slopes, coastal zones, flood plains, banks of rivers and streams.
Plans of appropriate water conservation measures.
Appropriate alleviation plans for vulnerable population during climate related hazards.
CREATE

Local climate monitoring system
Task force to manage extreme events.

What can our Gram Panchayat focus on while planning for combating climate change and its impacts?

SDGs

How do we set targets to achieve the goals?

If these are our goals, what are the specific things we should plan to achieve and by when? Can our Gram Panchayat plan for the following?

  • Set up a local climate monitoring system involving teachers and students.
  • Create a system to monitor weather bulletins and disseminate further to the local population.
  • Create a task force to manage extreme events and equipping them.
  • Prepare and implement alternate agricultural plans, plans for conservation of wetlands, forest, slopes, coastal zones, flood plains, banks of rivers and streams and water conservation.
  • Actions to reduce emissions by promoting green protocols for buildings,new and renewable energy like solar, biogas, wind, as well as decreased use of fuel wood, vehicles and similar emitting sources.

What can a Gram Panchayat Do

  • Take steps to create an in depth understanding of the term climate change and its impacts among the Panchayat committee and other community volunteers.
  • Sensitize people through Gram Sabha, Students/ Farmers /SHG meetings on the implications of climate change.
  • Identify progressive farmers, interested students and teachers, SHG members so that a working group can be formed for climate change action.
  • Train these working group members with the support of Department of Agriculture, Agriculture universities, Krishi Vigyn Kendras, Department of Disaster Management, Revenue authorities, Educational institutions and NGOs.
  • Initiate micro climatic monitoring with the help of local educational institutions, students and teachers on parameters like rain fall, wind speed, ambient temperature, humidity, water level in streams, river .
  • Wall writings, display boards, hand outs to disseminate information to general population on mitigation and adaptation.
  • Establish display boards, wall writings to disseminate current season’s weather pattern.
  • Create a system to disseminate this information to the affected groups on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly basis depending on gravity.
  • Organizing participatory rural appraisal (PRA) with progressive farmers and elders to understand the traditional methods adopted in agriculture during extreme events like flood, drought in the past.
  • Building awareness of Gram Sabhas to the extreme events like cloud bursting, flood, drought, land slide, extreme cold.
  • Identification of vulnerable groups like pregnant women, lactating women, children, elderly, differently abled, chronically ill, etc. and develop appropriate adaptation strategies for them during extreme events.
  • Discuss and sensitize Gram Sabha about the climate change mitigation factors like reducing energy consumption, usage of fossil fuels, plastics,non-renewable building materials and also to promote measures like planting of trees, conserving forests, usage of good agricultural practices like drip irrigation, water conservation measures and conservation of wet lands.

Resources to look for

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)
Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) and other watershed programmes
Green India Mission
Social forestry
National Afforestation Programme
Relevant state and sponsored schemes and programmes

People to support us

Department of Agriculture, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, Department of Revenue, NGOs,Educational institutions.

Here is an example

Possible steps to be followed if the Gram Panchayat decides to set up a local climate monitoring system:

  • Identification and interaction with school teachers who are dealing with topics related to climate.
  • Identity the parameters discussed in school curriculum like rain fall,temperature, humidity, wind speed, water levels in streams and rivers.
  • Creation of an interested group of students and teachers to take up school projects related to local climate.
  • Sourcing of necessary equipment – like rain gauge.
  • In addition initiate a campaign on activities for reducing emissions (like promoting walking, new and renewable energy)

How this exercise is linked to Sustainable Development Goals?

Sustainable Development Goal 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

The Universal Targets

  • Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.
  • Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning.
  • Improve education, awareness raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning.
  • Implement the commitment undertaken by developed country Parties to the UNFCCC to a goal of mobilizing jointly USD100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible.
  • Promote mechanisms for raising capacities for effective climate change-related planning and management, in LDCs, including focusing on women, youth, local and marginalized communities.

Now look at the goals and targets set by your Gram Panchayat – you are contributing to the Global goal and targets to combat climate change and its impacts.

Source : Handbook on Sustainable Development Goals and Gram Panchayats

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