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Ladakhis Prepare for Climate Change

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It took a little over a week for the Ladakhis to spring into action. After the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] issued a report on the perils that changing climate conditions pose to the Hindu Kush/Himalayan region of Asia, several groups in Ladakh announced an action plan to deal with the crisis. Ladakhis are quite aware of how vulnerable they are to the expected disruptions of their water supplies, according to a news report from the Times of India last week.

Chetsang Rinpoche, the head of the Drikung Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism

Chetsang Rinpoche, the head of the Drikung Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism (Photo by Lamala01 in Wikimedia, Creative Commons license)

Chetsang Rinpoche, the head of the Drikung Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism, took the lead in launching a project that will seek to make sure Ladakh is prepared to face the severe consequences of climate change in their region. The project focuses on rejuvenating a green cover over the Ladakhi foothills of the Himalayas.

The founders of the initiative titled their project Green Himalayas. They intend to develop a model site on 250 acres at Phobrang, in eastern Ladakh. They hope their model community will become a self-sustaining ecosystem in which the demand for energy is entirely met by renewable sources.

Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, member of India’s Paarliament from Ladakh

Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, member of India’s Parliament from Ladakh (Photo by Dorjayleh in Wikimedia, Creative Commons license)

Speaking at the formal launch of the project on October 6, the Ladakhi Member of Parliament, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, said that all 257 villages in the district are highly dependent for their water supplies on glacial melting. But the high mountain glaciers are rapidly melting away due to climate change. Can Ladakh even survive in another 25 or 30 years once they are gone?

Initiatives such as the Green Himalayas “will provide a solution to preserve the fragile ecosystem of the region and increase means of sustainable livelihood for the people,” the MP said. He appealed to experts in sustainable development as well as economists and agriculturalists to support the initiative in Ladakh as a model for the rest of the world.

A key initiative of the project, inspired by the IPCC report, will be to encourage groups in other areas of the Himalayan foothills to plant trees. Members of the two founding NGOs, Go Green Go Organic and Goldenmile Learning, along with residents of the local communities, have planted 25,000 trees.

Srini Srinivaisan, a business executive and the co-founder of Goldenmile Learning, sought to justify the efforts in Ladakh. “Climate crisis is everywhere. The Himalayas — our largest water lifeline — are melting. Can we remain silent?” he asked rhetorically.

Phobrang, located on the eastern border of Ladakh near Tibet

Phobrang, located on the eastern border of Ladakh near Tibet (Photo by Mani Babbar Photography in Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Another business executive who is the other co-founder of Goldenmile Learning, Rajesh Patel, said roughly the same thing: “The Green Himalayas project aims to create an antidote to global catastrophe with local action and [to] help build strong and confident local communities.” He explained how the project at Phobrang will create bodies of water, build cooperatives, and work out partnerships with the local villagers. Sustainable development for the entire region should replace the dire consequences of global climate change in Ladakh, the founders hope.

 

Harsh Economic Conditions for the Piaroa

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The Piaroa are suffering economically, according to a news report published last week in the online Venezuelan newspaper El Pitazo.

A Piaroa man and his daughter, Katherin

A Piaroa man and his daughter, Katherin (Photo by Orlandojosevc in Wikimedia, Creative Commons license)

The malaise is not just affecting the minority indigenous people. The reporter quoted a trade union leader, Yetzy Sira, who said that 40 percent of the employees in the government of Amazonas state in southern Venezuela have resigned their positions to take jobs in the mines, where they will receive much better pay.

Ms. Sira said that workers in low-paying positions such as jobs with the government can’t even afford to buy shoes to wear to work. In the words of the Google translation, she said, “nobody lives with such a precarious and miserable salary, amid so many necessities due to the high prices of the basic basket products.”

People in Atabapo municipality of Amazonas state

People in Atabapo municipality of Amazonas state (Photo by Veronidae in Wikimedia, Creative Commons license)

The reporter quoted a Piaroa woman, Lillisol Santiño Cancio, who said she had decided to quit her job with the Amazonas government after 10 years of service to take a position in a mine in Atabapo municipality. She decried the fact that the economy is getting much worse, forcing her, her husband, and their four children to move elsewhere and seek better conditions.

She explained to the reporter that while her salary from the job with the government, along with the earnings of her husband, used to be enough for the needs of the family, they can’t make it any longer. They cannot even afford to buy clothes for their children.

The article quotes other workers, including professionals such as an attorney, who have stopped working in the public sector due to the economic crisis that is affecting all of Venezuela. People are looking for work in other South American countries as well as in the nearby mines.

 




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