Artikel der Kategorie ‘Klima’

Green Impressions: Children’s Movement for Ecological rights

Dr Naina Athalye Program Coordinator, Holistic Child Development India

Children have four basic rights of survival, protection, development and participation.

The ecological rights of children are embedded within these four basic rights. The rights of children to clean air, clean drinking water and food cannot be denied to them or violated and yet the ecological rights of children have not received much attention while  it is they who are the first victims of ecological degradation.

The immediate impact of the misuse of our natural resources and ecology has been climate change. Climate change is largely due to human greed and aggression. Climate change  affects the lives of children adversely. A children’s movement for  ecological rights and to mitigate climate change has been initiated through small groups of children called the “children’s parliament.”

The children’s parliament is a group of thirty children from the neighborhood who come together to form a parliament, elect their ministers through consensus and meet every week to discuss events in their lives such as their school, home, sports culture and the community. In this forum children learn about their basic rights and mainly talk and share their views and ideas.

The psychological benefits of the children’s parliament are yet to be studied. However about 200 children in the age group of 10 to 16 years who are part of the children’s parliament in the northern states of Madhya Pradesh , Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in focused group discussions reported that they had become confident, less aggressive and angry , had better self esteem and were doing better in school.

The fact that they have membership to an exclusive group which is otherwise associated with elders weighs in their favour and is a matter of delight and pride for these enthusiastic children.

For many children engaging in environment protection becomes a way in which to express their relationship with nature. Within the children’s parliament, the Environment Minister is usually responsible for taking up advocacy for Ecological issues.

Holistic Child Development India an Ngo based in Pune, through its partners in over 12 states of India, has initiated these parliaments. First started by the Neighborhood Community Network , Kanyakumari  the children’s parliaments are giving children confidence, building their self esteem and making them responsible citizens of India.

The achievements of the children in their assertion for a more eco  friendly world are inspiring:

Plastic and its waste are carcinogenic and when children learnt of it in an environment studies class in school , the children parliamentarians in the village of Bhartiya, in Uttar Pradesh  went to all shops in the village and conducted awareness camps to ban the use of plastic. The children prevented   their mothers and other villagers from using plastic bags and have encouraged women’s groups to make cloth bags out  of used trousers and other recyclable clothing.  The elders are happy and awe struck by the enthusiasm and seriousness of the children in tackling this grave issue.

Another  thrilling tale comes from  The children of the Jharna children’s parliament in Garatola Madhya Pradesh where the children approached the District Collector and other officials and gave them a memorandum to free the village of the use of plastic on June 5 th 2012 and have been vigilant ever since to ensure that the village is free of plastic and its wastes. The children conduct awareness about ecology  for the local governing bodies and women’s  self help groups.

The Bapuji Children’s parliament in Kalahandi Odisha would have made Wangari Mathai proud.

The late Nobel Laureate Mathai once said, “It’s really amazing. You plant a seed, it germinates and looking so fragile and within a very short time it becomes a huge tree. It gives you shade and when it’s a fruit tree, it gives you food to build and transform lives”.   The Bapuji  parliament  in Kalahandi Orissa are relentlessly replanting trees around their forests as part of their reforestation drive. The children invite botanists to learn more about their herbs and trees and in turn educate their peers and other villagers. Around India the children parliamentarians have planted over one lakh trees in a period of two years

Close to the temple town  of Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh is a village called Lalitpur where the Kanhaiya children’s parliament have raised their voice against malaria and other diseases. The children found the Government municipal ity employee had not been attending to his work in the village because he had been given Mela duty in the village of Govardhan. The Local Chief (Pradahan) took up the matter with the municipality and soon the missing sweeper returned to the village to keep it again clean and free of garbage and mosquitoes.

The children in slums around  the Delhi’s Rohini region have been working for access of children to community commons such as toilets and clean drinking water. They have been voicing their concerns to the local MLAs and other seniors and are able to keep their garden, bore wells and toilets clean and accessible to all children.

When asked how India could become more eco friendly, Ram Niwas, 14 years. Home Minister and acting Environment Minister of Disha children’s parliament Bhartiya village, Mathura UP says:

The Earth needs our protection and climate change is a serious issue which makes children go hungry when the  parents have to migrate when they  lose their livelihood. We have seen devastation caused by floods and drought.

We the children of the Parliament in Mathura Uttar Pradesh planted 1000 trees over 6 months of which 20 died and 280 trees were eaten by cows.  But 700 trees are surviving and we care for them.

Trees are our only means of continuous survival:

They cushion the rain storms
They discipline the rivers
They control floods and  moderate air temperature
They shelter our wildlife
They keep the desert at bay
They stop soil erosion
They hold up the mountains

Ramnivas further says that children can give back to mother earth by caring for animals , reducing the use of plastics and cars and achieving  hundred percent literacy .

(We thank Neelprabha Jadhav, Rev Jacob Samuel, Sr Priscilla WIlson Pallayan and Magdali Lakra of HCDI  for their input. We wish to also thank Kindernothilfe for their constant  support to the children of India)