Empowering Youth in the Upper Ganga Basin
30 Nov 2017

Experience gained in this research project has enabled the partners to create a platform where community youth can engage with researchers and participate in the process of climate change research. This will not only help them understand the issues of their surroundings better but also build their capacity and sharpen their abilities to visualize their future accordingly. The purpose of the studies being conducted in three altitudinal regions of Upper Ganga (Upper, Mid and Lower) was not only to tap on the local resource for data collection, but also leave behind a legacy of awareness of the change that was studied in their residence; a change that they will take forward in their lives knowing that the ability to withstand & innovate during those changes resides in their decisions for the future.
In order to conduct quantitative household surveys to identify critical climatic stresses to livelihoods and people for the 4th component HI-AWARE research, the CEDAR team proposed a plan to bring out the best results and producing quality outcomes in the process. These quantitative surveys highlighted critical moments, adaptation turning points and threats to livelihoods. The application based survey, AkvoFlow was tested out by the team in plains and mid-hills of Upper Ganga in the villages - Hakimpur Turra, Badal and Bagi, Kim Khola & Amni respectively. Local resource persons in the study sites were identified by their willingness of participate in the surveys and their familiarity with their surroundings.

Before the surveys began, the local resource persons chosen at each site were trained and involved in discussions around the issues pertaining to their areas which were drawn from the findings of the situational analysis, scoping and vulnerability studies conducted in those areas in the past year by team CEDAR & TERI. Based on the understanding of changes in the livelihoods of people, the study further extended the discussions on turning points & pathways under HI-AWARE research. For the surveys, the team including student interns from TERI University, Indraprastha University and volunteers from villages, for the purposes of research termed as the ‘Local Resource Person (LRP)’ from their respective villages accompanied the researchers from CEDAR & TERI to the research areas and facilitate the discussions. 

The intended objective was to raise awareness towards climate change induced stressors in the region through citizen science and encourage young members of the community to participate in developing an enhanced understanding of their region’s threats. This would be done through 

Data collection of climatic stressors of the region through app based survey with active participation from young community members (both male and female). Also, focused group discussions highlighting turning points and their coping strategies would be discussed.

The end result was quite interesting as engagin with local resource persons provided great support in overcoming language and cultural constraints. It also led to an interesting dialogue between the surveyors (students) and the LRPs about their village, the changes being observed around them, their impacts on people’s lives and the community strategies in adapting to them. It also built confidence in the community about sharing their concerns with the surveyors due to the presence of a familiar face facilitating the conversation.

This exercise not only collected climate evidence in social aspects but also helped community understand, in simpler terms, the relation of climate change in their individual as well as collective behaviour and what they could possibly do better to be more resilient. Another key aspect of this exercise was to ensure and encourage participation from females as local resource persons which this exercise achieved and benefitted from the perspectives and support from both genders.