In Tamil Nadu in southern India, the large-scale agricultural industry has depleted the soil and groundwater levels have fallen steadily since the 1980s. This has led to both environmental problems and economic problems. Soil erosion and deforestation has led many people to move to cities trying to escape poverty but life in the city has proven itself even more difficult in terms of unemployment and housing shortages.
The Center for Improved Rural Health and Environmental Protection, CIRHEP, has been working since 1998 to regain a sustainable relationship between human and nature. The organization’s mission is to help the villagers to collectively develop methods and systems that increase imcome, improve the environment and ensure food supply. By organizing the population in 32 villages around the mountain Kadavakurichi, they work in a number of program:
Wheat-512Ecological agriculture: 100 farmers have been trained in organic agriculture and, above all, organic composts and poison-free fertilizers. This work has made the earth now more clearly showing signs of recovery. For example. the harvest period has slowly become longer.
School-512Mulle / naturskolor: CIRHEP operates nature schools inspired by the Swedish ”Mulleskolan”. The goal is to teach children how to take care of the environment in a playful way. Today all of the villages included by the programs have nature schools. In total, approximately 1,600 children between ages 5-15 years participate. This ensures that future generations have the necessary knowledge of how to live in harmony with nature.
Women-512 Women’s groups: Women’s groups has been iniatied to stregthen women role in society. The idea is that the women should learn how to earn their own income to increase independece from their husbands. Today, there are just over 100 women’s groups with between 12 and 20 members in each group. A direct result of this work is womens increased status in the family, resulting in more children being put to school at an early age. The reason behind this is that women to a greater extent invest money in their children’s future than men.