SAFE works at science-society interface on environmental conservation and poverty alleviation, sustainable innovative projects and programs are undertaken to provide alternative livelihood facilities to urban and rural poor and derive ecological handprints for habitat restoration and community welfare. The alternative livelihood programs include Climate adaptive alternative farming: Algae-cum-fisheries: As a climate adaptive option towards alternative farming in salt water inundated coastal farmlands of poor marginal farmers, SAFE initiated the cultivation of local marine algae in combination with endemic self recruiting local fishes, those both have commercial value and can suffice as food, feed, fodder, fertilizer and even as a cash crop to the climate vulnerable communities. Nearly 28 hectares of inundated coast lands in Kumirmari and Satjelia islands have been brought back to production with 320 farmers benefitting from the production. The full report is available at here
This livelihood linked vertical gardening project for creating better habitat and assuring alternative economic opportunity for the urban poor youth has been supported by the IYF grant from UN HABITAT. The project aims towards reducing the heat island effect in cities and create livelihood opportunities for urban poor by capacity building and skill development training. Youth are trained on vertical gardens and technology is transferred through capacity building and skill development workshops. The youth members from the community are vulnerable and largely poor, the new concept gives them a new horizon to shape their entrepreneurship in a more innovative way.
Other alternative livelihood interventions of SAFE include: Waste recycling, ecotourism, endemic fish cultivation, organic exotic vegetable farming.
Financial inclusion of community initiatives by SAFE is largely supported by NABARD, and through various alternative livelihood projects, financial inclusion of economically backward community members, is a mandate and has demonstrated that cumulative credit linkage efforts can deliver significant results. This has helped farmer clubs, joint liability groups, Self help groups mature and become an institutional platform for the poor enabling them to organize their efforts. They have improved access to finance from banks and enhance their existing livelihoods.
It all starts with social mobilization – community members have become members of self-help groups (SHGs), farmers clubs, have been further developed into registered federations. Social mobilization has been accompanied with focused efforts to improve their livelihood. The financial capacity of community institutions has been built by helping them manage their own finances, and by providing financial awareness services and education. In addition, the project staff has worked with communities to build a micro-credit and a livelihoods plan.
Simultaneously, partnerships with financial institutions are facilitated so that these community groups can improve their responsiveness and encourage further poor households, towards credit linkage.
SAFE received Community Development Award from NABARD, in year 2015 from NABARD.
Community health care programs of SAFE fulfill the objective of the community development and the prime objective is to increase access to health treatments and support for advanced treatments. SAFE in collaboration with Rotary Clubs, and local hospital, regularly conducts health camps in remote villages and urban slums, with specialized medical team. Health camp reports reveals, acute malnutrition is observed, in both rural and urban areas of West Bengal, and North East, India. Early marriage and excessive physical work after child birth has led to severe health problems for women in almost every village and slums. Mother and children suffer acute malnutrition and the rate of child mortality is high.
The objectives of community health programs
- To strengthen the coordination and management of local level health programs aimed at significantly reducing infant child and maternal mortality rate.
- Further develop nutritional surveillance and create awareness, nutrition monitoring in intervention areas.
- Impart training to local educated youth, to develop skilled health worker team, manpower at paramedical level, to address to initial emergency, first aid, and case reporting for action.
- Health support communication for imparting awareness on reproductive health among communities in West Bengal and North East, in India.
- Telemedicine: SAFE with support of IIT, Kharagpur, IT department, has commenced, ‘Telemedicine’, project in health support communication for treatment and disease prevention in Sunderban islands. Application of mobile apps in childcare and immunization program in distant villages of Sunderbans, has been recently introduced.
GLOF: SAFE has worked extensively on Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) in eastern Himalayas and has developed an impact assessment study report on GLOF in this fragile Himalayan ecology. The same has been awarded the International Kasumiguara Award 2004 from the International Lake Environment Committee of Japan. The same has been deliberated in USAID Asia-Pacific Regional Adaptation Assessment in year 2010, as available in here, and also has been published here
Forest Fire: SAFE is working with International Center for Integrated Mountain Research (ICIMOD), Nepal in the ‘SERVIR Himalaya Program’ of NASA and USAID, wherein SAFE team is working on Community Based Interventions of Forest Fire Mitigation using geospatial science tools. The program encompasses 28 districts of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan (East).
Coastal Cyclone: SAFE has been in ‘ground-zero’ during cyclone Aila in Sundarbans and has extended three tier disaster mitigation support to the climate victims. SAFE has extended immediate intensive medical facilities and reported the first health assessment report post cyclone Aila, published in Times of India, SAFE started massive campaign in nine islands of Gosaba block in Sunderbans that was worst hit in ‘Aila’, for soil engineering and rainwater harvesting to restore the salinity infested farmlands, and SAFE started the in-situ conservation of local salt resistant varieties of rice as a mode of disaster preparedness using Traditional Ecological Knowledge.
Innovative tools are being regularly developed to promote participation through conducting awareness and sensitization programs at community, policy, citizens, and all stakeholders’ levels in order to encourage desired responses towards a sustainable change. The awareness campaign tools and programs are designed by specialized team leading the communication section of SAFE. The communication tools are being successfully used and are widely accepted by target groups because of their appealing content, exciting brainstorming sessions, engaging games, catchy phrases and focused discussion sessions. But that is not enough. The ultimate aim is that these programs need to actually work. They need to change attitudes and inspire to make responsible choices that bring a sustained change.
Meticulous, evaluation is necessary to tell us what works, and to create a certain level of awareness that ensures responsible behavioral responses, it is crucial to have a defined information and communication outline with feedback systems before programs are implemented widely. Participation and scope for equal reciprocation is the key for acceptance of development and environmental conservation projects. This actually nourishes the process of change, encourages sensitivity to common concerns, and defines steps to ensure participation and ownership that brings success.
Capacity building is an “ongoing process” , within SAFE interventions, this is the process whereby individuals, groups, enhance their abilities, and the project implementing team develops training and skill development programs to strengthen abilities of individuals, groups, and largely focuses on an comprise combination of human skills development for poverty alleviation.
The capacity building programs of SAFE largely focus in areas of sustainable agriculture, water sanitation, health, alternative livelihood, waste management, urban gardening, indigenous culture, resource management, and climate adaptation and disaster mitigation. The action outline is based o Technology and Innovation Capacity for Sustainable Growth and Poverty Reduction.
Approaches include providing support to disadvantaged by cultivating knowledge and skills to grow and secure new economic opportunities. SAFE also meticulously works on support action research programmes, training and mentoring initiatives and higher education opportunities for youth within the communities. Participatory Action Research methods are used to ensure that all concerned stakeholders are involved.
SAFE receives supports for number of community capacity building programs that aims to strengthen the ‘enabling environment’ for project or programs uptake. Some of these specifically address the needs of marginalized women, for inclusive growth and development.
Under the India Development Market Place Award of World Bank, SAFE received support to enhance the organizational capacity for enriched delivery and enhanced professional competency.
Commons voices and engagement can contribute to making governments responsive and accountable. Especially, when the wise use of nature capital is thought of, the collective responsibility and community governance of resources needs to be prioritized. As has been highlighted by world development leaders, ‘The ability of citizens to make their voices heard and hold their governments to account is fundamental to good government. Its absence fosters an environment in which corruption can flourish, and citizens are unable to assess the decisions of their leaders, or make informed choices about who they elect to serve as their representatives.’ In the implemented programs of SAFE, empowered community organizations, local institutions and their networks are kept at the heart of all engagement activities, especially in decision making systems. Governance advocacy is guided by the assumption that, ‘Joint action by local associations can result in improved service delivery, increased opportunities for regular dialogue with service providers and government, and promote policy change.’ However, local actions are unlikely to be enough to sustain good governance in the long term, so these are further complemented by national-level advocacy undertaken by SAFE. SAFE’s ‘Biorights of Commons’ has been central to advocacy in national plan documents and focused on community partners, service providers and sometimes multilateral and bilateral institutions, including UN agencies and development partners. SAFE also worked with the media to popularize good governance messages through the conservation paradigms of Biorights. Links between engagement activities at different levels were assisted by the fact that partners were all members of SAFE network.
The various implications of good governance through community participation can be visualized in WASH interventions of SAFE like WASH-US & NEWS-UP. In rural this is best observed in participatory water budgeting and collective agro-farming practices and organic farming in climate vulnerable areas. Women in decision support system and inclusive growth has defined the levels of community governance of nature capital widely in all these interventions.
Being an equal opportunity organization and aglobal alliance to the UN organs like ECOSOC and UN Women, SAFE envisages equity and reciprocity in gender perception. In regard to this every implementation process creates opportunities for gender equity in decision making system, governance, and beneficiary, to create and unbiased gender balance especially in the rural scenario, SAFE has undertaken numerous initiatives for women leadership, capacity building and inclusive growth. The most strong initiatives for mainstreaming women waste workers as climate entrepreneurs has been the project Resolve Trash2Cash, which won the UNFCCC Lighthouse Activity Award in the category of Urban poor in year 2014, December at Lima, Peru
Further, to bring in community resilience in climate vulnerable areas SAFE has emphasized on gender mainstreaming by encouraging women farmers through local institutions, capacity building and exposure visit for drudgery reduction of women workers and installation of women friendly tool banks for work safety of the women.
SAFE also relates the gender issue in policy-implication levels through established participation and partnership of women achievers, trainers, and entrepreneurs at community interface. SAFE has been an active networking organization to collaborate with other international women forums like Match International Women Fund, MIWF, South Asia Women Fund, SAWF UN Women, International Association of Feminist Economics, IAFFE, and International Association for Studies on Common properties, IASCP.
On most recent studies SAFE outlook on gender and climate change has been the impact of climate on gender vulnerability, women livelihood, migration and gender equitable emergency response systems for disaster preparedness