Livelihood Restoration And Resilience Building Of Vulnerable Communities In Post-Flood Kerala

Livelihood Restoration And Resilience Building Of Vulnerable Communities In Post-Flood Kerala

The damage created by the August 2018 floods to the fragile ecosystem of the state of Kerala, is by now, a well-known fact.

One of the major rivers to be ravaged by the floods was the Pampa river, the third longest river in Kerala, originating from Pulichimala in the Western Ghats (one of the key biodiversity hotspots in the world), affecting major wetland areas like Varalchal, a key source of productive activities and drinking water for the marginalised and low-income households of about 2000-odd residents living in the surrounding village of Koipuram in Pathanamthitta district.

Given this scenario, WISE found it pertinent and necessary to support adaptation activities in the Varalchal region, aimed at restoring the livelihoods of the vulnerable and marginalised sections of the society and making the wetland and its people more resilient to such disasters in the future. The said endeavour commenced in 2019 and is duly supported by Ford Foundation.

In the year under review, a baseline, door-to-door survey to study and understand the socio-economic development and disaster preparedness of the community was carried out. Around 568 households were surveyed and the findings were interpreted.

In addition, a comprehensive field survey was also done to assess and analyse the water resources present, landforms and land use, and explore linkages with the river and canal systems of the Pampa Valley Irrigation Scheme, with the objective of improving disaster preparedness and disaster management.

With a view to empowering women in the community, one-on-one/group interviews with them and secondary data collection were carried out by the WISE project team and a well-known gender expert.

The findings of the socio-economic survey, water and land use survey and gender survey will be compiled, analysed and published into reports, the initial work for which commenced during this year.

The reports are expected to provide immense benefits to the local communities, enabling them to follow sustainable water management practices and enable gender empowerment, and overall, be prepared to handle/adapt to future disasters with the aid of climate resilient disaster management techniques.

Cleaning of the wetland, a major activity related to livelihood restoration was completed during this period with the support of the local community.

The wetland was in extremely bad condition post the 2018-19 floods and was filled with ‘Cabomba weeds’ (that cause severe water degradation which in turn destroy the fauna and flora), and other debris.

In addition, a temporary check dam was built across the outlet of the wetland to aid water and soil conservation. This was done using coconut trunk poles and sandbags. This has helped enhance the water table in the wetland to a great extent.

The project is currently ongoing.

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Manual removal of the stubborn weeds and debris.

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Before cleaning the Varalchal wetland: The Cabomba weeds.

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The clean and calm waters of the Varalchal, post-cleaning.

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The clean and calm waters of the Varalchal, post-cleaning.

Facilitating Multilevel Climate Governance In Kerala

Facilitating Multilevel Climate Governance In Kerala

India is dedicatedly working toward meeting its NDCs by treading the low-carbon and renewable energy pathway. But as can be witnessed, most of these initiatives are taking place at the sub-national level viz. local, city, and state levels. Cities cannot move forward with policy implementation without adequate support from their local governments, given that they are largely responsible for the management of key sectors including waste management, water and sanitation, transport and electricity services; all critical sectors targeted for mitigation in the NAPCC/NDCs. In addition, local governments are also proactive in reducing and adapting to the impacts of climate in the vital sectors of the forest, agriculture, and coastal areas.

The IPCC Special Report (2018) states that anthropogenic activities have resulted in approximately 1°C of global warming (above pre-industrial levels), and is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052. While the situation is grim, there is a narrow pathway still open for human action, to minimise the adverse impacts of climate change and limit global warming levels to below 1.5°C. But this would require mammoth systemic changes, especially in governance, to support the wide-scale and effective adoption of mitigation and adaptation strategies, with the engagement of multiple stakeholders at different levels of governance, especially at the sub-national level.

But unfortunately (and as per the literature review), there is little or no discussion on the actual process of implementation of climate policies at the sub-national level in India by these different stakeholders, resulting in a lack of action or piecemeal spread of interventions, rather than firm fructification of planned outcomes. In order to review and examine the extent of preparedness of implementation, in particular, the institutional and financial capacities for undertaking climate action, WISE undertook the project, the first-of-its-kind titled, ‘Facilitating Multilevel Climate Governance at the Sub-national Level’ in the state of Kerala.

The project commenced in July 2020, with the objective of reviewing climate governance in Kerala, streamlining inter and intra-governmental cooperation, and systematizing multi-stakeholder participation in climate governance. The final outcome of the project is a more empowered and strengthened governance system (and stakeholders), thus establishing Kerala as a model for multi-level climate governance in the country. To achieve this outcome, the project received non-financial support from the Local Self-Government Department, Government of Kerala.

In the year under review, WISE established its unit on ‘Climate Research’ in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The project team identified seven key sectors where climate action is deemed critical (based on key government reports). These sectors are: 1) Agriculture 2) Coastal 3) Energy 4) Forests 5) Transport 6) Urban Front 7) Water Resources. The governance areas pinpointed for the study included, 1) Policy 2) Planning and Coordination, 3) Finance, 4) Implementation, 5) Climate response/disaster preparedness, 6) Capacity building, 7) IEC (information, education and communication) and 8) Monitoring and Evaluation. Mapping of institutions, players and programmes, that guide and influence climate governance in Kerala was initiated, in addition to carrying out a rigorous literature review and collating illustrative examples and case studies from across the globe and India on multi-level, climate governance.

The project team, under the guidance of the Founder Director General, WISE, who is also a well-known author and speaker on the environment and sustainable development in Kerala, set up a distinguished Advisory Committee comprising experts from the field, with Mr S M Vijayanand, IAS (Retd), Former Chief Secretary, Kerala, and Chairperson, Sixth State Finance Commission, Kerala, as the Chairperson and Mrs Sarada Muraleedharan, IAS, Addl. Chief Secretary, LSGD, Kerala, as the Co-chairperson. The first advisory committee meeting was held in February 2021.

The project is being carried out in collaboration with Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, New Delhi, and is currently ongoing.

Enabling A Circular Economy for E-Waste in Pune City

Enabling A Circular Economy for E-Waste in Pune City

The US Consulate General, Mumbai, organised a joint US-India conference in 2017, announcing a grant competition for waste management innovation in India. The focus of the competition was to assess the current status of waste management in India—under any one of the different waste management topics presented—and explore innovative solutions that could be tested and adopted in the country, sharing global best practices and experiences in the process. WISE was awarded the seed grant for the project, which was evaluated and monitored on behalf of the US Consulate General, Mumbai, by The Ohio State University.

WISE worked on developing a participatory, e-waste management implementation strategy for Pune city with the objective of capturing 60% of the e-waste generated in the next two years. To this end, WISE undertook extensive stakeholder consultations with players at every level of the waste ecosystem, right from rag pickers to government functionaries, and assessed key technical and operational challenges, as well as institutional and administrative gaps. The findings and insights from the exercise were then contextualized with global best circular economy models in the waste management space taking into consideration the health and environmental impacts of possible circular economy strategies.

WISE proposed an innovative circular economy-oriented business model for Pune city for e-waste management. It detailed a comprehensive action plan (short-term and long-term) to implement the recommended model, create base-level awareness, build the capacity of concerned stakeholders and strengthen institutional mechanisms for e-waste management in Pune city in the coming years.

The Action Plan was disseminated through a variety of channels including WISE and OSU websites, stakeholder websites, email blasts, and social media. Additionally, focus group meetings were held to ensure the feasibility of plan implementation. The final report of the WISE project has met with wide acceptability among city officials and key stakeholders across the value chain. In particular, the WISE team briefed the Joint Municipal Commissioner, Solid Waste Management, PMC, Dnyaneshwar Molak, and other key stakeholders, and received an enthusiastic response. The recommended Strategic Action Plan is expected to pave the way for more informed decisions by policy-makers and e-waste chain participants, leading to development of a circular economy in Pune.

See Report Link

The Energy Report: 100% RE for Kerala by 2050

The Energy Report: 100% RE for Kerala by 2050

The project funded by WWF Norway and administered by WWF India was the Indian state equivalent of WWF Global’s ambitious report on 100% RE for the world. The project required WISE to assess the feasibility of meeting 100% energy from RE in Kerala by 2050.

WISE carried out detailed stakeholder interactions in Kerala with its topmost stakeholders and experts in the energy and environment domain and assessed the renewable energy potential (wind and solar) of the state using Geographic Information System (GIS) tools and high-resolution datasets of land use and land cover, topography and resource layers. The project team also used an open-source modelling tool to design different energy demand scenarios and model impacts on energy utilization through energy conservation, energy efficiency and energy substitution (renewable energy use). The energy model covered electricity, industrial heat and transport energy.

The report was widely disseminated and some of the recommendations from the report were implemented by the state electricity department and state nodal agency. The main conclusion that emerged was that Kerala can technically meet about 95% of its energy demand from RE by 2050. Based on the report, the Kerala State Electricity Board created a separate division for development of renewables, resulting in the sector gaining momentum in the state. Post the project, WISE was requested by the state to undertake a follow-up project focusing on Palakkad district in Kerala. Both the reports were widely appreciated and, on the request of the state, were translated into the local language, Malayalam, for enabling wider dissemination.

See Report link

CLEAN ENERGY TECHNOLOGY ACTION PLAN FOR 3 STATES Karnataka, Maharashtra and Rajasthan

CLEAN ENERGY TECHNOLOGY ACTION PLAN FOR 3 STATES Karnataka, Maharashtra and Rajasthan

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK-FCO) awarded a project to WISE to develop clean energy technology action plans for three states: Karnataka, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. The main objectives of the project were to strengthen the states’ renewable energy capacity and address energy security concerns across various sectors including power, industry, water and transport.

WISE undertook this project in 2009 at a time when wind energy was fledgling and solar energy was not yet established. The awareness levels in state governments about RE technologies and clean energy were low. WISE undertook a comprehensive literature review and data analysis exercise across diverse sectors and worked with the states’ top bureaucrats to consult and prepare a roadmap and action plan for accelerating clean energy interventions. Under the project, WISE also undertook a detailed renewable resource assessment that suggested huge RE potential (wind and solar) in the GW range.

Consequent to the preparation of the Draft Action Plans, a series of workshops were held in each state capital—Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Jaipur—with participation from various departments, agencies and utilities of the state governments. Participation was also open to various central agencies, private utilities, and NGOs. The first round of three workshops were held for detailed presentation and briefing on the contents/recommendations of the Draft Action Plans, stressing the need for each department/agency to critically examine the recommendations and provide feedback in the light of their own perspective and emerging policies. The second round of three workshops were held to garner the feedback for the Draft Action Plans. Based on the detailed feedback received, the Draft Action Plans were suitably modified and finalised, prior to formal submission to the state governments.
The third round of three workshops were Policy Workshops, emphasising the emergent need for coordinated policy changes at the sectoral and inter-sectoral levels, if the combined challenges posed by climate change, future energy security, and environmental sustainability were to be suitably addressed. The final round of three workshops were Capacity Building Workshops, concentrating on the techno-economics and potential for renewables to simultaneously address the above challenges through institution building.

In addition, six Media Briefings were also held, three coinciding with the release of the Draft Action Plans, and three with the formal presentation of the Final Action Plans. Print and visual media representatives were present in large numbers in all the three states.
The study findings were groundbreaking and received extensive publicity. Copies of the three Action Plans were submitted to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt. of India.

Many of the implementation strategies, mainly in the area of renewable energy policy and regulation received considerable traction through direct state government action over the next five to ten years.