Norway has embarked on a significant initiative to support India’s ‘Hunger Project‘ in Uttarakhand. This project aims to empower women leaders, enhance food security, and protect the environment, particularly in the ecologically sensitive region of Uttarakhand. With a budget of ₹44.7 million and a three-year duration until September 2026, this endeavor holds great promise for the marginalized households in the state.
Empowering Elected Women Representatives
The Hunger Project is primarily focused on building the capacity of elected women representatives (EWRs) and federations. These women play a vital role in strengthening local governance and, in turn, improving food security and livelihood opportunities for marginalized households. The project’s emphasis on strengthening van panchayats, or forest councils, is key to achieving these objectives.
Expanding Women’s Leadership
One of the main goals of the program is to enhance the leadership of women in gram panchayats, the local self-governing bodies. Empowered women leaders can play a pivotal role in conserving forests and natural resources, as well as promoting sustainable living and food security. Collaboration with van panchayats and the broader community, especially women, is a key strategy in this endeavor.
Scope and Reach of the Project
The project will be implemented in three districts, nine blocks, 172 gram panchayats, and 145 van panchayats in Uttarakhand. This extensive reach involves 900 EWRs who will work to protect standing forests and nurture the immediate environment, crucial for the community’s livelihoods and food security.
Raising Climate Change Awareness
The project also aims to raise awareness in local communities through 334 Jagrukh Manchs (awareness platforms). This heightened awareness will enable communities to collectively combat climate change risks and make informed decisions for their well-being.
The Climate Challenge in Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand is particularly vulnerable to climate change, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Over 70% of the state’s geographical area is covered by forests, and its predominantly rural population depends on natural ecosystems for their livelihoods. The drying up of natural springs and increasing natural disasters have already impacted the region. The Hunger Project aims to address these issues and uplift the community’s resilience.
Women’s Role in Climate Resilience
For women living in these areas, climate change brings additional hardships as they bear the responsibility of fetching safe drinking water, collecting fodder for animals, and managing other natural resources. The Hunger Project recognizes the gender-specific challenges and seeks to empower women to adapt to these changing conditions effectively.
Alignment with Government Priorities
The Hunger Project aligns with the Uttarakhand government’s commitment to sustainable development, making it a crucial element in the state’s growth strategy. Furthermore, the project is in harmony with the climate and environment policy priorities and commitments of the Indian government, especially as it pertains to COP28.
Addressing Climate Change Impact on Food Security
The project’s interventions will focus on mitigating the impact of climate change on food security, addressing eroded livelihood opportunities, nutrition security, and adverse health impacts. By empowering women leaders and engaging the community, it aims to foster resilience against climate change-induced challenges.