Igniting the Imagination of Youth In collaboration with SAATH (Gujarat) and Bandhan (Kolkata) at Sirsi, Western Ghats
Developing young community leaders for a sustainable tomorrow
Programme Purpose and Objectives:
- To provide an immersive experience that would increase participant’s knowledge, enhance their skills & develop passion for the environment while striving to provide ideas for conservation action.
- Connect participants with global, national and regional environmental sustainability issues and challenges.
- Provide hands on experience on scientific methods of collecting research data.
- Develop understanding of the role participants can play for a sustainable environment.
A programme by SABIC - India and Earthwatch Institute India
Creating a Platform for Experiential Learning in the 21st Century
Developing a School Network of Young Champions, who care for Urban Fresh water conservation and initiate actions within their school, community and their homes on water conservation and management and at the same time, get the opportunity to engage in some of the leading Earthwatch Expeditions in India
Project site: Biodiversity of the Okhla Wetland - An Important Bird Area (IBA) & Study Area
- The Okhla Wetland on the river Yamuna provides suitable habitats with plenty of open spaces, food and breeding grounds for a diverse variety of flora and fauna. Okhla Wetland has been designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by the Birdlife International. Urfi (2003) has compiled a list of 302 bird species from this site. An additional 27 species have been listed by Harris (2001) as probable. They need confirmation. During winters, between 14,000 and 20,000 water birds are recorded. This site qualifies in IBA A4iii criteria (i.e. the site is known or thought to hold 20,000 water birds)
- As the river Yamuna falls on the route of the migratory birds, a large number of them halt at the Okhla Barrage in winters. This water body renders good water levels along with suitable breeding and foraging grounds for migratory birds. According to the Indian Wildlife Club, an online nature club, over 300 species of birds (out of about 450 species recorded in and around Delhi) can be spotted here.
Long term field research project at Okhla –
Realising the pressing need for a conservation approach to urban freshwater bodies, a long term field research programme based on the Citizen Science model has been initiated by Earthwatch Institute India. Through this model, till date, opportunities have been created for citizens to contribute to water conservation by encouraging them to undertake research & monitoring, learn and disseminate conservation models that could conserve and save the water bodies.
WaterScope at Okhla based on Earthwatch’s Citizen Science model –
- The programme aimed at inspiring citizens and young people to value water resources understand the local freshwater challenge and take proactive action for water conservation and management was formally launched on October 15, 2014. Through this programme Earthwatch Institute and SABIC India have helped educate and involve students as volunteers in freshwater research through a participatory field programme. These student volunteers also called as the WaterScope Champions belong to different age groups and belong to not just the high end schools of the NCR but also from the schools which are charitable in nature, thus helping to encourage opportunities for children from low income families, to participate in this programme.
- By collecting water data and monitoring the freshwater bodies, these students are helping to address local water issues and the data collected by them is being used to help further strengthen the conservation of the fresh water-bodies.
- This ‘Citizen Science’ based experiential learning programme is aimed at developing young environmental leaders who will mainstream water conservation considerations into reality. This initiative has the potential to modify attitudes, beliefs, decisions and actions regarding environment and sustainability for these school students.
- To create awareness about importance of water conservation thereby leading to positive actions by students and teachers, the project has helped enhance participant’s understanding of the interlink between water quality and quantity as well as biodiversity.
- By working together in teams with leading Earthwatch scientists, students and teachers have gained firsthand experience by participating in a field research experiential learning module about water quality and have also further helped the participants to take actions for water conservation on their return from the programme
- The programme has thus helped create a number of action oriented participatory engagement opportunities for students and teachers from Delhi NCR region
- To connect students and teachers with global, national and regional water conservation challenges.
- To provide hands on experience on scientific methods to measure chemical parameters for water quality.
- To develop actions which students can take for water conservation.
- Deeper understanding of water related topics learnt as a part of school curriculum.
- Enhanced understanding of scientific methods used for monitoring of water quality.
- Ideas generated by students for individual and group action.
- Sensitized individuals who will take conscious decisions regarding direct and indirect consumption of water.
- Interactive resource material water challenges.
Expected individual actions by the WaterScope Champions:
- Monitoring and research on water quality and bird life.
- Understanding the linkages between water quality and its impact on ecosystems and biodiversity.
- Awareness and outreach to disseminate intricacies of ecosystem functioning such as how environmental drivers impact water quality.
- Movement for a participatory conservation practice.
- As sensitized community, the schools will take up sustainability projects within their school campuses. These projects will address the school centric goals on solving issues pertaining to environment sustainability and help them engage in a positive action.
- Earthwatch Institute will be the knowledge partner for them in this engagement and will handhold them and guide them – through on-site demonstrations, mobile application engagements (e.g. Frog Find App, Butterflies & Bees App, etc.).
- At the same time, the identified 160 WaterScope Student Champions will be the ambassadors for sensitizing the communities outside the school on the importance of freshwater and water conservation.