Background to the programme
The trigger of the Jalavahini program are the current climate change related impacts (both flood and drought episodes) affecting the drinking water, food security, livelihoods and health of many communities in Sri Lanka. This especially concerns women because of their leading role in the community regarding agriculture and food security.
The Jalavahini capacity building program has been designed for empowerment of women and targeted livelihood security for communities, especially female headed households.
Objectives of the programme
The program aimed at teaching specific and practical techniques via series of interactive trainings, followed by the women of a selected community, in climate change adaptation and disaster risk resilience, enhancing food security through eco-friendly agriculture and non-toxic home gardening to face pesticide-use-related kidney disease spreading in Sri Lanka.
In particular, a climate resilient home-gardening program offering insights to challenges and coping strategies to climate variability has been implemented in Pubbogama (Anuradhapura).
This program introduces water-friendly approaches in climate change adaptation. They learn new and appropriate techniques for water conservation and other simple agricultural technologies through series of practical collective on site workshops dealing with crop protection in case of drought - for example drip irrigation through used plastic bottles as well as hydroponic agriculture.
Quantitative and qualitative results from the implemented actions
The activity is still ongoing, women are very satisfied because they acquired knowledge of climate variability and easy and cheap adaptive methods. So far, 15 programs have trained 400 rural women leaders in seven regions all across Sri Lanka.
Despite the possibility to adapt is still low, a real ability for women to understand the climate related changes has been noted, as well as the feeling of being empowered and able to ensure themselves and their family a healthier and cheaper life. For example, it has also allowed to tackle the current epidemic of Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Etiology (CKDU) whose Anuradhapura district is the epicenter - because of the large use of pesticides.
A part of the program is still a pilot activity but the program in itself has already been recognized since it received the Climate Justice award at COP 21.
The program is innovative because it provides a practical common-sense approach which is replicable at ground level.
Moreover, it is new in the region that climate resilience is being built through women as catalysts, what is more through a participative approach.
Partnership(s) developed in the context of the programme
The entire Jalavahini program was conceptualized as a joint activity of NetWwater and the CSR program of Brandix Lanka Ltd, a leading Sri Lanka based multinational. John Keels Foundation joined the partnership for one year. Moreover, it received the Ministry of Water Supply and Drainage and the National Community Water Trust’s supports.
Difficulties and/or obstacles encountered during the programme’s implementation :
Difficulties concern the fact that the trainings have to fit well the needs of the women as well as to be in harmony with some social aspects of the community.
Solutions used to overcome the difficulties and/or obstacles :
For this, at the onset, investigative surveys were carried out to examine the feasibility of follow-up actions as requested by the participants after the capacity building programs. This enables to select the most useful trainings according to women’s needs. For example, after three village surveys, the training program for women carrying out farming activities in climate smart way (non toxic agriculture for home gardens) was selected for support. One of the solution was especially to conduct it in two selected pilot communities, Rajangane and Pubbogama. Both sites were also encouraged to carry out experimental cultivation of ginger and aloe Vera crops, as a side income apart from vegetable and fruit in home gardens.
Suggestions for future improvement :
The performance of the program could be improved with a greater interaction at initial level and more time for visits after training.
Summary of factors responsible for the programme’s success :
The crucial points to be successful are an availability of time and finances for prefeasibility and target group selection, finances for a midterm on site training session with psycho-social counseling since many of the problems identified were related to existent social fractures within communities, a identification of climate resilient seed types and organic fertilizer starter packs. Some examples regarding good practices are to use manuals of procedure and to conduct assessments before the implementation of the activities.
Ideas for basic or applied research topics, that could be useful to the programme :
Scientific research that would be useful to improve such activities could be : development of seed types, cheaper methods of hydroponics, more investment into communication including use of mobiles for monitoring and follow-up training.