Just a month before the flash floods and landslides caused by heavy rain in Himachal Pradesh in August this year, ActionAid Association (AAA) released a study that found that 85% of people in Chamba district experienced an increase in the frequency or severity of natural disasters like drought, floods, or landslides. The study highlights the impact of climate change on the Gujjar pastoral community’s livelihood, particularly on their access to water and food resources, as well as the severe effect of extreme weather events on the livelihoods of the Gujjar community and their ability to adapt to climate change. AAA’s team conducted in-depth research to understand better how this community perceives climate change and to capture their firsthand experiences of its repercussions.
Recognizing the gravity of the situation and taking immediate action to address the underlying causes of this strain, we launched a campaign titled “Act for Climate Justice” on World Environment Day in June this year. The Campaign aims to raise awareness among vulnerable communities about the impacts of climate change and empower them to advocate for their rights to mitigate losses. The campaign outlines a multi-faceted strategy encompassing understanding, documentation of loss and damage, creating a charter of issues, establishing pro-people reparatory and compensatory mechanisms, and robust policy advocacy.
Since its inception, the Act for Climate Justice campaign has steadfastly pursued its primary objective of raising awareness and documenting the demands stemming from the repercussions of climate change. The campaign’s extensive outreach has encompassed many activities, such as awareness programs in 120 schools across 17 districts, engaging more than 15,000 students and 450 educators. It has also organized over 150 community meetings in 27 districts and led delegations to district authorities in seven districts. In addition, the campaign has conducted 11 training sessions for social and ecological justice defenders (SEJD), where we helped 321 community leaders with knowledge about climate change and its impacts on marginalized communities.
The Act for Climate Justice campaign is poised to expand its reach to 100 districts across Delhi, Goa, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab. The campaign aims to engage with one million individuals and train 10,000 social and ecological justice defenders. This campaign has already initiated discussions within marginalized communities, informal worker and labour groups about the tangible effects of climate change on their daily lives. Furthermore, it intends to compile data on economic and non-economic losses and damages these vulnerable groups incur due to climate change. This comprehensive effort will involve surveys, studies, and various research methods to provide a holistic understanding of the impacts. The campaign has already completed its second action research titled “Climate Justice for Sugarcane Workers in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh”, which will be released shortly. Other ongoing action research includes: “Climate Justice for Agriculture Workers in Punjab – An Impact Assessment of Sidhi Bijai Scheme”, “Climate Justice for Brick Kiln Workers in Punjab and Maharashtra”, and “Climate Justice for Construction Workers in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra”, which will be completed by the end of this year. Ultimately, the campaign aims to contribute to creating a charter of issues that outline the needs and demands of vulnerable communities and informal workers. Additionally, it seeks to propose effective mechanisms or reparations and compensation to address the challenges affected communities and workers face.
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