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Saturday, 28 December 2013

URBANISATION, POPULATION & HEALTH

Urbanisation is an evolutionary phenomenon, which goes in hand with economic development. If urbanisation is not properly managed, it may lead to unbalanced growth, amplyfying rural-urban, inter-urban and intra-urban disparities in development. Furthermore, concentration of economic resources in cities alone results in problems of rural-urban migration, urban poverty and immense pressures on urban infrastructure and service, leading to the deterioration of the urban environment. It may slow the rate of economic development in the long run, as urban centres become inefficient to sustain growth.
 
Villagers play a significant role to play in the national economy and significant part in the development process of a community. People’s participation in developmental activity is a common feature all over the world. But the dimensions of population growth in rural areas and their migration to cities poses a great challenge today and all efforts towards development are nuetralised by this ever growing population. Therefore this unplanned population growth has to be tackled together by all the agencies involved in this field.

Taking seriously this gigantic issue many government policies had been planned and implemented in their own way and failed to get the desired results. The reason was most government programmes have generally ignored the fact that reproduction takes place through sexual relations which are conditioned by broader gender relations. Reproductive & Child health (RCH) emerged as a wholesome solution for all these problems.

For successful execution of this programme following strategies can be adopted:
·         Community participation in planning for services and prioritizing
·         Client centered approach to service provision
·         Emphasis on good quality care
·         Having a multi-sectoral approach in implementing and monitoring services.


SED proposes to cater to the reproductive health needs of the women living in the slums and resettlement colonies of Delhi and rural women in Rajasthan, by providing the needed care, and services to ensuring safe deliveries. All family planning spacing methods are being popularised, couples are being counselled, whenever needed, to accept a contraceptive method. Immunization of children, growth monitoring and nutritional advices are also being provided. The programme aims to reach all the families living in the area, by providing basic health needs, in general, and addressing the reproductive health needs of couples, in particular.  

Saturday, 21 December 2013

ENVIRONMENT, HEALTH & CHILDREN

In the 66 years of India’s independence, at least 60 million people have died prematurely due to diarrhea and malnutrition. More than 5million people die each year from water related diseases – 10 times the number killed in wars. At least one million children died every year since independence because of lack of clean drinking water.

Liver and lung diseases resulting from vehicular pollution affect number of people every day. The recent years have witnessed a sharp rise in pollution levels, because of the ever increasing number of vehicles plying on the roads. In addition to vehicular emission, factories too also responsible for urban pollution related disorders. According to estimates, city dwellers are currently being exposed to more than 200 tones of pollutants every day, of which more than 75% can be directly traced to vehicular pollution.

India loses about US $ 95 billion every year on account of sickness and death from pollution and economic costs attributed to resource degradation, says the World Bank’s annual Environmental Review. Environmental degradation in the region continues to worsen by increasing industrial pollution in urban areas and degeneration from the unsustainable use of land, forest and water resources in rural and coastal areas.

Humans are stressed and disease prevalence is worsened, by widespread malnutrition and the unprecedented increase in air, water, and soil pollution. According to researchers, the impact of air pollution will get worse as the number of vehicles on the road is rising at three times the rate of the world’s population. Smoke from indoor cooking fires kills 4 million children per year, and lack of sanitary conditions contributes to another 4 million death, mostly among infants in developing countries.

While studying the relationship between increasing pollution levels, and pollution trends, climate change and emerging diseases, a team of US scientists says that 40% of all death world-wide is due to environmental pollution and global warming can worsen the situation. It is therefore important that improving environmental conditions form an important part of health care, because curative care alone will not be sufficient as more succumb to these diseases.


Involving students & teachers in health matters to promote health awareness with the objective of disseminating information related to behaviors which influence health (like diet, physical activity and avoidance if addictions like tobacco) and the disorders caused by unhealthy behaviors (such as heart diseases, cancers, diabetes and obesity), among school children. It strongly believes that community mobilization through health education is a key element in bringing about health changes and the youth, in particular, have to be assisted in learning to live healthy and stay healthy. The logic behind targeting school going children is that behaviors get etched during early school days and can be positively influenced by providing appropriate information in an engaging manner. Students also respond to this learnt information with conviction and commitment and serve as effective agents of change in family and community settings. School teachers have also been activated to bring about a positive health behavior change by promoting informed and enabling interactions among children. SED has been conducting for students and teachers, assembly talk & interactive sessions, quiz programmes, poster & elocution contests, and project work. Environmental barriers are identified and addressed by health promoting policies, through enabling regulatory or legislative measures. The activities of SED include promotion of informed debates on health related issues and encourage students to actively articulate demands for appropriate governmental policy (legislation/ regulation) which will be conducive to their present and future health. 

Saturday, 14 December 2013

POOR RURAL PEOPLE & ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

Primary purpose of this blog is to highlight the special role of the small holder (particularly SC/ST) in sustaining and gaining income through improved Animal Husbandry practices. This has got a greater relevance when we weigh of the resultant benefit to the community through diverse animal resources in terms of human development, against the economic development where there is an opulence of money accrued through individual profit. “Human development report” published by UNDP, crisply analysed the benefit accrued by various economic groups as a result of economic development. 86% shares of benefit from world GDP went to the richest twenty per cent, 13% to middle sixty per cent and 1% went to the poorest  twenty per cent. Sixty eight per cent share of the benefit from foreign direct investments go to the 20% richest, thirty per cent to the middle 60% and only one per cent to the poorest 20%. The case of the small holder in the sector of livestock and animal resources need much greater and concerted attention in the backdrop that the world richest animal bio-diversity is still available in our country, waiting to be explored and tapped optimally.

The remarkable achievement by millions of small holders made through milk producers’ co-operatives involving 40 million people has almost made the country world’s largest milk producer. The contributions from miniscule units culminated in producing milk worth 55 billion rupees annually. This success story strengthens the case of the small holder. Unfortunately, the small holders in the sectors like sheep, goat, swine’s, poultry, equines and other animal resources should have received the highest priority in the welfare economy. A holistic, need-based service with delivery of relevant inputs near their establishment is essential since women and children are the main players involved in this endeavor. Intervention in the form of information, service, primary support for collection, transport, storage or marketing had not received the priority the small holders deserve.

Animal husbandry in India, as also agriculture, has become strongly caste based. Only lower caste people are engaged in this profession. There are various lower castes that are assigned the duty of looking after different kinds of animals. Without any education they could not improve the livestock. The high caste and educated people did not care to improve the animal wealth because they were not supposed to engage in such ‘menial jobs’. The result is that after thousands of years of animal rearing, practically no improvement had taken place in animal husbandry in the villages.

Even then, animal husbandry remained part and parcel of Indian agriculture. Cultivation of land and rearing of animals always went together because most of the farm power and manure came from the domestic animals. India has largest domestic animal population in the world but is last in their productivity. The average Indian farmer is ignorant of most of the factors of animal husbandry.

No attention was given on improvement of animal husbandry till 1960. After that some cattle breeding stations and research stations were established. The project directorate for cattle breeding is located in Meerut (U.P.). The directorate is having eight All India Coordinated projects and under these projects a total of 95 centres are established: 43 in State Agriculture Universities, 16 under ICAR and 36 under private and non-governmental institutes. Besides these there are 3 deemed Universities dealing with specific programmes in Animal Husbandry. They are Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar (U.P.), National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, Haryana and National Institute of Animal Centres, Karnal, Haryana. Various types of researches are being done in these centres and the three deemed universities.

There are 150 government-breeding farms all over the country. Their function is to maintain the pure strains of the indigenous breeds and to improve progressively the nucleus of individual breeds, demonstrate modern methods of feeding, disease control, pedigree registration, herd book maintenance under the Herd Registration Scheme. Number of measures was taken to improve the breeds of the cattle and to increase the milk production. Today India is the largest producer of milk, leather and leather products in the world.

State-wise, the largest number of cattle is found in Uttar Pradesh followed by Madya Pradesh, Bihar, Maharastra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Gujrat and Punjab. Maximum attention was given for improvement in the cattle quality for milk production only and meat, egg and leather were given less priority. Hence other major component of animal husbandry like sheep, goat, swine (pig farming) and poultry, which are reared by poor SC people were remain untouched by the most of government scheme for their improvement in the quality. Whatever little work has been carried out by some research institutions and agriculture university departments are yet to reach to the people. Thus there is plenty of scope for improving their quality and products and extension.

The SED at its Gramin Vigyan Kendra (GVK) at village Digod in Kota (Rajasthan) has been engaged in promoting rearing of small animals like goat, hen and rabbits. Training programmes are regularly organised at this Kendra for people of lower income groups and weaker sections of the society. The various scientific aspects such as breed improvement, feed development and feeding, housing, pre and post natal care, immunization, better productivity are taken care off during the training.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Importance of Water & Mankind

Water is the prime determinant of the sustainability of human being “Jalati Jivayati Lokaniti!”  Water in different forms is considered as Apodevatas in Vedic literature.  Since time immemorial water is worshiped in India. It is one of the five elements that contribute the life support system.  Everything in human life is, in some way or the other, tried to water.  The reduction in availability of this resource in the past has led to the decline of major civilizations in the past.  It is widely felt by the people that water is a free gift of nature available in unlimited quantity. It may have been so in the past, but the current situation is different, it has become a scarce commodity in the arid areas.  Over the years water was a community resources where people themselves has to take care of its availability but gradually it has been taken out from them by the politicians.

The demand for water is increasingly steadily, as human and livestock populations are increasing, more and more land is being brought under irrigated agriculture and newer industries are being set up.  Since water is limited such trend is forcing people to even use ‘marginal’ quality water in some areas. This again triggers off a chain of degradation process involving the land and also affects human and animal health. To alleviate the problems, new tube-wells are being sunk and water has been canalized from the wetter north.

Yet, short-sighted planning and poor execution of works, like the construction of minor irrigation reservoirs at wrong sites, dumping of industrial effluence in the ephemeral stream beds or profuse irrigation without proper soil drainage are adding more to the problems. The problem of water is, therefore, multi-dimensional.  Bringing water into the dry zone, or sinking more tube-wells alone, cannot solve the problems. Tackling of the problem requires, first, quantitative information on the availability and uses of water, as also an analytical approach to the environmental impact of different water uses and monitoring of the effect of different uses.

India’s average annual rainfall is around 1,100 mm and concentrated for three months time. The bulk of rain waters flows away via ravine system. Thus the rainwater runoff and flood discharges constitute a major resource to be conserved. The usage of monsoon waters whose arrival is concentrated in three months mainly needs to be dispersed over the year.  It has been estimated that at least 1% of annual precipitation all over India, if stored, is sufficient to take care of its domestic water requirements for the burgeoning population of India.  It can be conserved in various forms to augment the ground water table as the ground water reservoirs forms the most economical means of storage as well as the most dispersed form of supply. Seeing the present condition it is known that the ground water is getting depleted at a drastic level and off course, with richer people and higher economic growth rates, water is getting severely polluted. The time has come to intervene and protect one of our precious resources.

Every year the ground water table is receding due to excessive demand due to increase in the population and agricultural purposes as the new hybrid varieties require more water. Every summer the whole area is under acute shortage of water, which leads to various problems the drinking water, livestock population and the whole of the agricultural pattern would come under the grip. The women are suffering the most as she is facing lot of hardship in fetching drinking water for the family and animals. The drudgery of rural women is that, she has to walk 4-6 km. and spend on an average 3-4 hours daily to collect drinking water. She is facing problem in bathing & washing cloths as well. Therefore the SED is providing technological inputs and awareness for rainwater harvesting in the form of household and community level and water conservation/management so as to reduce her drudgery and meet the requirement for households and other purposes and increase the ground water level.


“Water harvesting” is the simple technique to mitigate the foreseen problem which may cause a great threat to the civilization of mankind.  United Nations had also stated that in the next century there would be a war on water. Therefore the SED felt the need for developing simple techniques for water conservation and harvesting at village level and there propagation.  The concept is to catch the rainwater where it falls and conserve it in various means of storage like ponds, tankas, baolis etc. and off course the cheapest means of storing water is in the form of underground reservoir i.e., to recharge the groundwater table.  It is suggested by SED that the rainwater, which falls on the roof, has to be tapped and connected to a certain point for eg. a abundant well, pit or recharge shaft. The water is being used in the lean season for various purposes by sinking a tube well or bore well.  The household level rooftop water harvesting and a community level water harvesting structure are being made on an existing pond or lake, from where the whole village community is benefiting. This structure is augmenting the ground water level for drinking and agricultural purposes.  These water-harvesting techniques are not only benefiting the rural women but also the whole village. Above all the socio-economic level of the area is getting a boost as the women are getting quality time for other productive work to enhance the level of income. With these efforts of SED, the village economy is improving and rural women are being empowered.

Monday, 2 December 2013

SAVE SOIL: A PRECIOUS NATURAL RESOURCE


Soil is a fundamental resource for the welfare of human, and life in general on earth, and as such it is one of the most important assets to protect and pass on to future generations. India has the onerous task of feeding almost 17 percent of the global human, 11 per cent of the livestock population on only 2.3 per cent of the world's land and the entire burden of producing enough depends upon the first few inches of the earth's crust - SOIL. It is estimated that by 2025, India would require 350 million tonnes of food grains to feed its teeming millions. This target has to be met under the constraint of an almost fixed net cultivated area hovering around 140±2 million ha since the 1970s.

Land degradation is a great problem to soil health and productivity. The constraints relating to balance between living-being and soils have resulted in several kinds of land degradation, environmental pollution, decline in crop productivity and sustainability, deforestation, non-agricultural land uses, environmental deterioration, misplaced hydrology viz. water logging, salinity, sodicity, declining water table and low water use efficiency. Nearly 57% of the country’s total geographical area is under various degrees and categories of soil degradation. The latest estimates given by NBSS & LUP, Nagpur show that the total degraded land in India is 187.8 Million ha, of which 162.4 million ha is due to displacement of soil material by water (148.9 m ha) and wind (13.5 m ha), 10.1 million ha by salinization, and 11.6 m ha by water logging. The remaining 3.7 m ha is affected by the depletion of nutrients.

Because of continuous cultivation over centuries and intensification of agriculture in recent years, there has been progressive and substantial depletion of the soil reserves. Of late, secondary and micronutrient deficiencies are also emerging and the crop response to these nutrients is increasing. The factors responsible for higher yield are high soil productivity, supply of balance crop nutrients are the most important.

Despite increasing use of chemical fertilizers over the years, there has been continuous nutrient mining of the soils. The nutrient remove from the soil for production of food grains and other agricultural crops far exceeds the nutrient applied. The threat to long term sustainability of agriculture is not due to alleged excessive use but primarily due to under use of manure (compost, vermicompost etc.) and the resultant nutrient mining of the soils.

These are all known soil degradation processes which lessen the current or potential capability of soils to produce crops or biomass. Many technologies are available to check this and conserve soils for sustained productivity. There is a need to develop sustainable soil management systems for achieving target food production from limited soil resources. Therefore, Mitti bachao slogan for conserving soil resource for future is more relevant in present situation to feed the rising populations.
 
The SED has been carrying out Mitti Bachao Andolan (Save Soil Campaign) in five districts of Rajasthan (Kota, Bundi, Jhalawar, Baran and Sawai Madhopur). Under the campaign farmers, students and school teachers are not only made aware about the soil and its conservation but also equipped with portable soil testing kits with training to test soil samples.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Solar Home Lighting System for Villages of Rajasthan

Electricity is vital to both economic and social development of villages. In India still 760 million rural households are without electricity and use kerosene to light-up their houses. In Rajasthan still 470 villages do not have electricity, as they are far away from grid line and number of houses are small making impossible to provide wired electricity to these villages by government and those who have, their current state is very poor as electricity comes only 2-3 hours a day and not at the time when it is required the most.
 
The households are using kerosene lamps to light-up their house, which are not only causing health hazards to the family members but also affecting environment adversely. They are spending average Rs. 300/- per month to fuel the kerosene lamps.
 
Household without electricity are losing 4-5 man-hours of work daily for adult members leading to decrease in earnings and also affecting the studies of children.
 
They are unable to use any communication means including mobile phones as there are no facilities for charging batteries, thus cut-off from rest of the world.
 
Rural electrification at a household level can provide the essential services such as lighting and communications facilities. India is blessed with abundant solar energy and if harnessed efficiently, the country is capable of producing trillion-kilowatts of electricity. Solar energy is extremely beneficial as it is non-polluting and its generation can be decentralized. The State of Rajasthan receives more than 325 days solar radiation with maximum intensity in India and very low average rainfall. It also has unutilized low cost desert land available in abundance.

Every poor households who have no electricity connection from grid and use kerosene to light-up their houses can be provided Solar Power System. Each System will consist of solar panel, battery and converter, can provide electricity to 2 LED bulbs of 5W each for 6 hours and charge 2 mobile phones daily. The Solar Power System will cost Rs. 4600/- which is around 15 months expenses on kerosene. If MNRE provide subsidy of Rs. 2300/- as they are providing on many products like Solar Water Heaters, Water Pumps etc. then cost will be recurred in only 8 months. The government can save on several count like erection of poles and wires to provide electricity to remote areas, maintenance of these line, T&D losses, generation of power etc.
Thus I feel it as an important issue on which all stakeholders like policy makers, government at central, state and district level, academicians, community based organisations should give some thought and make efforts to light-up the life of those who still deprived.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Solid Waste in Indian Cities & its Managers

India is undoubtedly a dynamic, diverse, and complex society. The caste system, although unofficially abandoned, is prevailing, and many groups remain poor, disadvantaged, and secluded from the economic and political scenes.
 One result of a rapid urbanisation, a slowly reducing gap between urban and rural, changing consumption patterns, and a growing population is the problem of waste. Given the current developments, the generation of municipal solid waste in India in the year 2047 has been projected to exceed 260 million tons – a number more than five times the present levels. While the quantity of solid waste generated by society is increasing, the composition of solid waste is becoming more and more diversified with increasing use of packaging materials made of both paper and plastic. At the same time, many households do not recycle their waste, but, instead, tend to dispose it outside their homes or on the streets.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the average Indian generates about 490 grams of waste per day. Although the per capita waste is low compared to western countries, the volume is huge. The generation of solid waste in Indian cities has been estimated to grow with 1.3 percent annually. The expected generation of waste in 2025 will therefore be around 700 grams per capita per day. Considering that the urban population of India is expected to grow to 45 percent from the prevailing 28 percent, the magnitude of the problem is likely to grow even larger unless immediate steps are taken.
Out of the total solid waste generated, 50 to 90 percent is collected, while 94 percent is disposed unscientifically. Only 70 percent of the cities have adequate waste transportation facilities. The waste is often left unattended at the disposal sites, creating a health hazard. Urban slums are likely to be the ones most neglected.
Improper handling of solid waste and indiscriminate disposal in open spaces, road margins, tank beds, and etcetera, give rise to numerous potential risks to the environment and to human health. Direct health risks mainly concern those working in the field without using proper gloves, uniforms, and etcetera; a high percentage of waste workers and individuals who live near or on disposal sites are infected with gastrointestinal parasites, worms, and related organisms.
For the public, the main risks to health are indirect and related to poor water, land, and air quality. In addition, infrequent collection of waste provides an attractive breeding ground for flies and rats. The most obvious environmental damage caused by solid waste is aesthetic, i.e. waste that litter public areas is ugly and smelly. A more serious risk is the transfer of pollution to ground water and land as well as the pollution of air from improper burning of waste. Many waste activities generate greenhouse gases; e.g., landfills generate methane and refuse fleets are significant sources of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Open burning dumpsites produce volatilised heavy metals (e.g. mercury and lead), dioxins, and furan. Leachate from unlined and uncovered dumpsites contaminates surface and ground waters. A damaged local environment will first hit the most vulnerable groups of society, those who lack the resources needed to reduce the negative effects of a degraded environment. In addition, people living under poor circumstances are also directly dependent on their close natural environment for their daily survival.
Another problem related to waste in India, as in many societies, is that it is considered dirty and filthy, and those dealing with it are perceived as inferior, second-class citizens. Traditionally, people working with waste in India – popularly know as rag pickers – usually belong to the “untouchables” (the Dalits); e.g., the raddiwallhas collect waste and the kamatees/kamatans sweep the streets. Hence, the prevailing, informal, waste system also affects how people view waste.
The waste workers live and work under extensive health risks, and suffer severe exploitation and deprivation. Possible health hazards include raised levels of infant mortality, hand and leg injuries, intestinal and respiratory infections, eye infections, lower back pain, malnutrition, skin disorders, and exposure to hazardous waste.