June 30, 2022, Thursday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Developing ecovillages to support livelihood and reduce climate change effects

The Nepal Weekly
May 10, 2022

Globally recognised literatures state that in 2015 the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were ratified by 195 countries. To be achieved by year 2030, the goals aim to transform our world by leaving no one behind. In 2017 the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) investigated how 30 ecovillages from 5 continents already contributed to the UN SDGs. The results were presented on the 2018 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF). Based on the GEN research outcomes, 17 international ecovillages were examined. Ecovillages were aimed to understand how relate to the UN SDG framework. The research was done with ecovillages around the world subject students. Before the analysis, those who involved in research became acquainted with the SDGs’ targets and their implications in different communities. The research methods were web-content analysis and self-assessment from the ecovillages’ representatives, and the results were compared. The research proved that studied ecovillages already contribute to most SDGs; still, most do not know or intend to use the SDG framework. The results indicate a communication gap between the global political community and local ecovillages. Both global and local efforts aim to support sustainable development, but there could be vast differences in the interpretation of sustainability.

Mainly maintaining of livelihood in the rural areas is concerned to ecovillage concept. Thus, agriculture, livestock, horticulture, seeds, fertilisers, machines and tools, improvised methodologies, credit system and marketing of products are also equally important factors.

Employment opportunities, good education, communication and transportation facilities are also matters influence the rural livelihood while such aspects play a key role to stop youth migrating from villages to cities or even abroad.

Renewable energy technologies (RETs) are vividly related to ecovillage concept to implement. That means, energy for clean cooking, lighting, heating, drinking water, irrigation, agricultural machines to operate, agro- processing, education, health, communication, should be at least fairly available. In this process, biogas plants contribute bio-fertilisers as well. In addition, promotion of small and cottage industriesbased on local and indigenous skill and materials should be taken into consideration.

Moreover, a multitude of pressing concerns such as food security concerns, inequality, climate change, biodiversity loss, and unrestrained urbanization are calling for our immediate attention. Over exploitation of natural resources, misuse of chemical inputs on farms, has created challenges that has threatened life of biological organisms and existence of planet Earth.  Ecovillage can be used as a solution tool in present day world addressing all the mentioned issues.

An ecovillage is one of the important technology used in a traditional or intentional way with the goal of becoming more socially, culturally, economically, and/or ecologically sustainable. Thus,ecovillages strive to produce the least possible negative impact on the natural environment through intentional physical design and resident eco-friendly choices. Ecovillage development design can be adjusted according to existing available resources and goals made by the community. It mainly focuses in balancing between life in community and available natural resources. With the overwhelming increase in the world population, it is bound to destroy nature. Trees are corrupted, water is tainted, Air is poisoned and the land is minified. If this continued for long, there will not be enough food to eat, safe water to drink and good air to breathe. This will be beyond control the factors, but must be able toput effort to make the world better for future. So some mitigating measures must be taken without delay to cope with the environment.

Also worth to recall that globallyaround 1.3 billion tons of food is thrown a year, or a third of all the food that we grow. This is an alarming stage. On the other side around 9 million people die every year of hunger and hunger-related diseases.

The main focus and working model is consciously designed through locally owned participatory processes in all four dimensions of sustainability (social, culture, ecology and economy to regenerate social and natural environments). Eco villages help to implement the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and Climate Agreements on local levels. Many social innovations developed in eco villages can be transferred and replicated and local solutions to global challenges add up – over time, eco villages become a force for positive societal transformation.

In Nepal, few initiatives have been commenced as eco village development. The results from different initiatives have been found useful and encouraging.

In this context, it is worth to mention that Centre for Rural Technology Nepal (CRT/N) had implemented ecovillage development concept in a few selected villages. One such programme was conducted in Bhangala, Bethanchok Rural Municipality, Kavre inProvince Bagmati.

Activities of CRT/N EVD programme focus on as ecovillage concept were : Participation of rural communities, Strengthen capacity of the community, Optimum utilization of local resources, Adoption of climate smart agro-practices, Development of agro-entrepreneur, Integration of renewable energy technologies (RETs), Productive end use of RETs, Inclusive decisionmaking processes, Conservation of indigenous practices, Solid waste management at household level and a few others with relevancy as well. In the training programmes and other activities women participants were encouraged over male participants so as real users and beneficiaries to be involved much. 

A number of training programmes were conducted to impart knowledge to locals on agriculture, traditional technologies to improvise, new but appropriate technologies for farming, irrigation, storage, credits, sales of products were organised. Likewise, electricity for cooking was also taken as a solution to remove smoky kitchens which cause air pollution to women and children mostly. Improved cookstoves which produce small amount of smoke and consume less firewood were also promoted where electric cooking, cooking by biogas is not available.

The Bhangala experience was documented and shared to stakeholders so as the experience should be useful to implement in other places. CRT/N had organised a workshop programme last week to this effect.

Remarkably, Nationally Determined Contributions that Nepal submitted in late 2020 to UNFCCC was mentioned with developing 200 ecovillages in Nepal which may set a trend to contribute to reduce climate change effects as well.

The CRT/N implemented ecovillage programme was supported by UNDP/The GEF Small Grant Programme. The programme was conducted during 2019 December to April 2022.

Purna N. Ranjitkar