Swayam Shikshan Prayog, a Pune-based NGO, has been awarded the United Nations Development Programme’sEquator Prize for devising an ecologically sustainable agriculture model to combat the adverse impacts of drought.
It is the only Indian organisation to win the award, making the cut from more than 800 nominations across 120 countries.
Fifteen projects from organisations across Africa, Asia and Latin America won the award in recognition of innovative solutions to tackle poverty, and environment and climate challenges.
Initiatives from Pakistan and Kazakhstan won recognition for the first time.
Phase of Maharashtra at winning the award
The award comes at a time when the arid Marathwada region in the State continues to be face debilitating droughts and farmer suicides.
The SSP has been actively working for the empowerment of women in India’s rural heartland for the past two decades by promoting community-driven initiatives.
Award winning initiative
The prize-winning initiative is a women-led ‘climate resilient agro-ecological farming model’ for restoring land and soil. The project has helped empower more than 20,000 marginal women farmers [landless or those owning less than four acres of land] and their families in Marathwada by helping them make informed decisions about agriculture and the environment.
The model advocates the use of bio-fertilizers and pesticides, preservation and exchange of local seeds, and a change in farming patterns by diversifying from a single-crop system to growing multiple crops in a bid to reduce the dependency on the caprices of climate.
This method also emphasises efficient water management through use of hydroponics, drip irrigation, sprinklers, farm ponds, recharging of bore wells and tree plantation leading to improved groundwater levels and soil fertility.
The award marks the SSP’s second consecutive recognition by yet another UN body after it won the UN climate award in October 2016.
It was awarded for a project that aimed at building a rural distribution network of 1,100 women entrepreneurs and facilitating access to clean energy, water and sanitation products and services in several communities.
“Marathwada is not just about farmers suicides, but also about people like us who have challenged drought and destiny,” says Shaila Narore, one of the women farmers who was part of the initiative.
It is organized by the Equator Initiative within the United Nations Development Programme, is awarded biennially to recognize outstanding community efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
As sustainable community initiatives take root throughout the tropics, they are laying the foundation for a global movement of local successes that are collectively making a contribution to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
. As local and indigenous groups across the tropics demonstrate and exemplify sustainable development, the Equator Prize shines a spotlight on their efforts by celebrating them on an international stage.
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