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Environment

Protecting Village Ecosystems

Barefoot College Tilonia has been working to protect local village ecosystems since the early 70s, and as an extension of this it has established an in-house nursery. Catering to the needs of surrounding villages, it harbours over 500 varieties of indigenous plants and seeds, and helps transform waste treatment sites into green spaces. Hanuman Ji, who has been running the nursery along with his team for over 25 years, also makes rich organic manure from wet waste and shredded leaves. This is sold to visitors as well as being re-used in the nursery.
The nursery has worked extensively to run plantation campaigns in schools, pasturelands and barren lands. Some of the local plant species it has preserved are roeda, guggar, khirni, jaal and peelu, and there are also wild varieties like phalsa, bamboo and gundi. Medicinal varieties include neem, barna, shari, ashwagandha and aloe vera.
The nursery serves as a crucial knowledge hub in the waste management initiative, providing crucial technical know-how about managing wet waste and composting.

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It has been estimated that every year India’s villages generate a staggering 127.75 million metric tons of waste, an amount that will keep increasing unless action is taken. In 2016 the SWRC/ Barefoot College decided to address rural India's solid waste management problems. 
Following our core belief in finding local solutions to local problems we decided to concentrate on action at community level, ensuring that each one would be able to start up and run its own Waste Management System. Our approach follows the principles of community-led action through engaging directly with participants to tackle whatever problems they face. The ultimate aim is to bring about long-term change, and in acting to make rural India waste and plastic free we have provided formal employment opportunities as well as a dignified work environment for people working in marginalised communities.
Leading by example, Barefoot College first developed a waste management system on the Tilonia Campus. What we learned from this enabled us to create a low cost, decentralised, replicable and community-led waste management system that would work elsewhere, and when put into practice it led to Rajasthan’s first zero-waste village, Chota Narena. Since then the system has been scaled up to be used in seven villages, including one Panchayat. It has reclaimed more than 110 metric tons of wet waste by converting it into organic compost, and 7.6 metric tons of dry waste through selling it to local recyclers. What’s more, eleven people from marginalised communities have been given job security and dignified jobs through the initiative. A timetable of progress would look like this:
•        2016 – The Barefoot College Tilonia’s waste management system began as a pilot project at Chota Narena village, approximately 15 kms from Tilonia.
•        2017 – Working together, villagers, volunteers and the gram panchayat developed the village site. [Gram Panchayat? To match Panchayat above?]
•        2018 – 350 households in Chota Narena benefited from the system. In addition, roles for three waste collectors and one supervisor were created, of them work carrying dignity. 
•        2019 – The system was scaled up to cover the entire Tiod panchayat, which is made up of four villages and 1500 households.
•        2021 – The system was adopted by another panchayat (Kakalwada) which has five villages and 725 households.
•        2022 – The system was operational in ten villages.  Over 2200 households benefited from it, and six new jobs for individuals from marginalised communities were created.

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The SWRC Barefoot College Tilonia, located in one of India’s most environmentally sensitive drought-prone regions, has turned its attention to ecological regeneration and waste management. Population growth and modern plastic packaging have combined to produce an increasing quantity of waste. The SWRC works to keep the environment safe, healthy and disease free. For us, water conservation, waste management and better environment practices go hand in hand.
Since the mid ’70s, we have been promoting plantations in wastelands, pastureland, government schools and nurseries across Rajasthan. The effects have been seen and felt as large swathes of degraded land have regenerated.
• Planting trees in school grounds serves the dual purpose of bringing greenery to the school environment and bringing young people to understand the importance of trees in nurturing soil and improving the climate. Both students and staff learn about the variety of medicinal and other local plants that need to be protected from extinction.
• This is an ideal combination of modern science combined with the traditional wisdom that students and staff have absorbed throughout their lives.
• Through the interventions of the Plant Nursery Team, Barefoot College currently manages more than 20,000 native trees and plants on its campus in Tilonia and nearby villages.
• In the village of Tikawada, 40,000 trees have been planted in the wasteland. The community is involved both in planting and protecting them as they grow and mature.
• The fact that individual homesteads have also begun to plant native trees and plants is living proof that rural people accept their value, and appreciate the benefits.
• In the greened areas there have been significant drops in temperature 

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Solid Waste Management

The Social Work and Research Centre (SWRC)'s Solid Waste Management initiative is a one-of-a-kind rural waste management programme involving stakeholders across many levels, from community to local governing bodies, volunteers, students and young people from different parts of the country.
It was piloted in Chota Narena, a village comprising 350 households and approximately 1000 individuals. Qualitative surveys and focus group discussions identified the need for a localized, community-centric waste management system, and highlighted the following 

  • Every year 1000 households generate 180 tonnes of wet waste and 15 tonnes of dry waste

  • 70% of this ends up in landfill and 30% is burnt in homes

  • This creates 35 tonnes of CO2 emissions

 
Numerous surveys show that in both urban and rural areas rising consumerism and expanding rural markets have caused a surge in waste. Lack of knowledge about waste and how to handle it as well as socio-cultural and logistic barriers pose an environmental threat to otherwise ecologically sound communities. The many waste types (organic, sanitary, electronic, plastic) either end up in landfill or are burned, emitting hazardous gases. Every day these have a harmful effect on lives and livelihoods, affecting women, children and cattle alike. The need to address the issue, and strengthen community understanding of scientific waste disposal and treatment, is urgent. The Social Work and Research Centre (SWRC), Barefoot College seeks to do this through its Rural Waste Management Initiative which aims to engage all stakeholders.
 
To encourage ownership and participation, the model follows a community-centred approach, so that local resources and community traits and behaviour feed into emerging solutions. To help convey the message and raise awareness of the issues the communications team from the SWRC uses traditional communication methods like puppetry and folk music. The model has ensured dignity of labour and provided guaranteed skilled work for individuals from backward and marginalized communities.
 
The model's success can be seen in the milestones achieved so far -
 
❖ the Rural Waste Management Initiative is operational across 10 villages
❖ 150+ tons of compost have been produced from organic waste 
❖ 50+ tons of recyclable waste has been saved from burning
❖ 70+ tonnes of CO2e emissions have been reduced
❖ 9 Suistaneble Developments Goals (SDGs) have been addressed.

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To encourage ownership and participation, the model follows a community-centred approach, so that local resources and community traits and behaviour feed into emerging solutions. To help convey the message and raise awareness of the issues the communications team from the SWRC uses traditional communication methods like puppetry and folk music. The model has ensured dignity of labour and provided guaranteed skilled work for individuals from backward and marginalized communities. The model's success can be seen in the milestones achieved so far - ❖ the Rural Waste Management Initiative is operational across 10 villages❖ 150+ tons of compost have been produced from organic waste ❖ 50+ tons of recyclable waste has been saved from burning❖ 70+ tonnes of CO2e emissions have been reduced❖ 9 Suistaneble Developments Goals (SDGs) have been addressed.

Our Initiatives

In November 2021, the Waste Management System launched in Kakalwara Panchayat, Ajmer district, by Barefoot College Tilonia and SBI Foundation involves 850 families across five villages. Each community designed its waste management system, emphasizing waste segregation at the source. Cleanliness committees, comprising village representatives, manage the system, providing dignified employment to marginalized individuals. Similarly, with support from Kotak Mahindra Bank, Barefoot College is initiating a waste management project in four villages in Tyod gram panchayat, currently in its awareness phase.

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Kakalwara Panchayat Waste Management Project

On November 17th, 2021, the Waste Managements System in Kakalwara Panchayat began. This system was set up in 5 villages in Kakalwara gram panchayat, Ajmer district  by Barefoot College Tilonia with the help of the SBI (State Bank of India) Foundation. 850 families are now involved. We enabled each community to design and set up a waste management system of its own, and made people aware of the value of segregating waste at source, i.e. within their homes. In each village we formed a cleanliness committee made up of village representatives and locally influential people to manage and operate the system, a move which provided dignified employment to four people from marginalized communities. In each community the whole system is now operated and managed by the Village Committee.

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Tyod Panchayat Waste Management Project

Kotak Mahindra Bank is supporting Barefoot College in setting up a waste management scheme in 4 villages in Tyod gram panchayat, Ajmer district. The project is in its initial stage: so far we have held awareness meetings with community and village panchayats, to bring them on board.

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