- Livelihood improvisation and income enhancing activity – additional income options through additional livelihood intervention has long been an area of interest for us. We have entered into a technical tie-up with an affiliated organisation of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research called Sashya Shyamala Krishi Vigyan Kendra and begun with a livelihood workshop on poultry, and followed that up with field visits and concrete plans of intervention for income enhancement. To this has been added a livelihood, livestock and nutrition survey that we have conducted in an especially backward community of Scheduled Tribes who are poor and could do with additional income.
- Nutrition workshops – These have been started recently, in response to certain health problems that came to our notice. Wetland expert specialising in nutrition by use of wetland plants and allied ingredients have begun to take classes of small groups of wetland residents to advise them on how to improve nutrition at a low cost. This type of workshop has been a resounding success.
- We recently released a report on the status of land use in Bhagabanpur mouza, one of the largest mouzas in South 24 Parganas whose population jumped about four-fold between census years 2001 and 2011. We saw a steep fall in waterbody area and steep rise in conversion. Read about the report in this link…
- We have made two films: A City by the Side of a Wetland (2015) which is a short film and a documentary East Kolkata Wetlands: Squandering Conservation and presented them to an interested audience. We have targeted Boy Scouts and Girl Guides as one such set of audience – the interesting part was that these children all came from schools where the national language (Hindi) was the medium of instruction, while the films were in English. This proved no deterrent for communication, as the children showed a full understanding of the situation and the contents of the film. They expressed themselves clearly in follow-up sessions.
The film East Kolkata Wetlands: Squandering Conservation has been uploaded on YouTube for a wider viewing and has been regularly having hits and viewers.
SCOPE also guided and helped Mahadevi Birla World Academy produce a short film for a competition called Earth Reel which had upcycling as a theme. The film that they made, The Wetlands that Sustain Kolkata, won second prize in the competition.
- Enthusing awareness raising through seminars – Recently, at the suggestion of SCOPE, there was one seminar termed Responsible Urbanisation which had one whole day devoted to the East Kolkata Wetlands and responsible urbanisation, where the intelligentsia of the city participated. Children and teachers from 11 schools in the city contributed to the seminar, where poster-making was a part of the proceedings. The children came up with very innovative ideas to communicate their understanding of East Kolkata Wetlands importance in responsible urbanisation.
- We have co-worked with the West Bengal State University on preparing a report on the Solid Waste Management Model of Kolkata Municipal Corporation. This has provided us with a lot of insights into the vulnerability of the waste pickers who are involved in SWM practices of the Kolkata Municipal CorporationStudents from Mahadevi Birla World Academy visited the wetlands in October 2016 and in the wake of their visit, raised funds enthusiastically to treat a small group of economically disadvantaged people to get their eyes checked, and obtain glasses or go for an operation where required.
- Students from Mahadevi Birla World Academy visited the wetlands in October 2016 and in the wake of their visit, raised funds enthusiastically to treat a small group of economically disadvantaged people to get their eyes checked, and obtain glasses or go for an operation where required.
Celebrating World Wetlands Day 2020
SCOPE and partner organisation Disappearing Dialogues jointly facilitated the celebration of World Wetlands Day, hosted by Kheadaha High School situated in the East Kolkata Wetlands. The programme was organised by the Department of Environment, Government of West Bengal. Principal Secretary, Department of Environment, Government of West Bengal, Shri Prabhat Mishra, was the Chief Guest. Distinguished guests who attended included wetland ecologist Dr Subir Ghosh, Mr Thomas Schrod, Deputy Consul General of the Consulate of Germany in Kolkata, Mr Prabir Sarkar, president of the panchayat samiti of Sonarpur block (administrative unit), Mr Sukhamoy Chakraborty, Circle Inspector (police) of Narendrapur circle in South 24 Parganas district, and the panchayat heads or pradhans of Kheadaha I and II gram panchayats (the local rural administration).
Important presence was that of Shri Altap Sheikh, headmaster of Kheadaha High School and Shri Manas Haldar, headmaster of Bamanghata High School. The function was richly attended by students from these two schools and the members of the wetland community.
A book on the wetlands written for children in Bengali was re-printed and a notebook created – both of which were released this year.
The function underscored the importance of understanding the essential character of these wetlands, exploring more fully their economic possibilities by facilitating better flow of sewage and highlighted the importance of preserving the wetlands for the next generation. The song of the wetlands, composed and enacted last year, was dramatised again. Also, a poem composed by a teacher of Kheadaha High School based on the Bengali book, was recited. Along with that, an exhibition was repeated here in Kheadaha High School, which Disappearing Dialogues had approached SCOPE to be a partner last year. That was first held at an art gallery in Kolkata. The exhibition showcased the skills of the students and the biodiversity in the wetlands – this year’s theme was World Biodiversity Day.
Overall, the programme served as an important occasion for a bonding to develop between three key stakeholders – the Department of Environment, the local rural administration and the wetland community, who through their wise use, conserve these wetlands. It also helped to spread the message of wetland conservation and suitably addressing challenges faced by the community, to ensure future sustainability.
For a look at the whole programme, please click here
Livelihood training programme
This year’s livelihood training programme was also held at Kheadaha High School, which is located at the confluence point of Kheadaha I and II gram panchayats in Kheadaha mouza of the East Kolkata Wetlands. This was the first programme held by the Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Arapanch, Sonarpur at a venue within the wetlands area – all earlier programmes have been held outside the wetland area. So this served to orient women from these localities to appreciate the importance of rearing a range of domestic animals such as cows, ducks, goats, turkeys, and hens. The ability of the women to rear these animals scientifically will ensure their enhanced income in the future.
SCOPE is deeply indebted to Shri Altap Sheikh, the headmaster of Kheadaha High School for encouraging the training workshop at his school, and agreeing for more workshops in the future