Photographs by Leela Channer
Text by Dr Alan Channer (Initiatives for Land, Lives and Peace), and Leela Channer
Asia Plateau, the Centre for Initiatives of Change in India, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018. As well as running national and international conferences and training programmes, Asia Plateau has roots in rural India.
The work of Grampari, IofC’s rural development and ecology programme, sustains livelihoods and strengthens the resilience of the communities surrounding Asia Plateau. Run by a dedicated team, it is part of a global Initiatives of Change vision for 'land, lives and peace’.
For more information, see: https://grampari.wordpress.com
These photographs celebrate Asia Plateau's engagement at local level with issues of global significance.
Village children play on the tableland above Asia Plateau, part of the second longest plateau on the continent of Asia.
'The monkey and the crow' - photo taken from a guest bedroom at Asia Plateau. Troupes of black-faced langurs thrive in the indigenous forest that has regenerated on previously degraded land in the 68 acre grounds of the conference centre.
School children in the nearby village of Belmachi.
The children examine the cleanliness of their nails - part of the 'hand-washing with soap' programme run by Grampari, Asia Plateau's rural development centre. Hand hygiene greatly reduces the incidence of debilitating, and at times fatal, water-borne diseases.
A tamarind sapling in Grampari's demonstration plot. The tamarind tree, originally from Africa, has edible, nutritious fruits, medicinal properties and excellent timber for furniture. Planting the right tree species in the right places brings vital benefits to rural livelihoods and has multiple environmental benefits. The Grampari team is involved in planting hundreds of indigenous trees.
Farming households in some of Grampari's programmes make a living from cultivating strawberries. The Panchgani area is famous for its strawberries and growing them can be very profitable. However, intensive strawberry production has also depleted the soil. Grampari is now encouraging organic methods of strawberry production.
Rural women are central to Grampari's programmes.
Grampari works with villagers to construct ferro-cement tanks, made out of concrete and wire, to store rainwater for use during the dry season.
A ferro-cement tank at the Grampari centre.
Grampari also installs natural phyto-filtration systems to purify waste water. The water in the right-hand bottle has not yet been purified; the water in the left one has.
A student of information technology from the city of Pune experiences the practice of 'quiet time' - listening to the inner voice.
A young professional from Sri Lanka at IofC's 'Lead for Change' programme.
University students at a training session in front of the bust of Mahatma Gandhi at Asia Plateau. 2018 was the 100th anniversary of the 'khadi' (handspun) movement, founded by Gandhi. The movement promoted self-reliance in all of India's villages.
Asia Plateau's rural development work is relevant right across the Western Ghats, home to hundreds of thousands of farming households and to internationally-recognised hotspots of biodiversity. Much of the region is semi-arid and particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Grampari's work in community-based water management and other aspects of sustainable development is a vital dimension of climate change adaptation, with relevance across India and beyond.