Telltale: Access to clean drinking water is their basic right but how will it be fulfilled?

Gilgit-Baltistan is considered one of the most diverse mountain complexes that foster some of the highest levels of biodiversity within this unique mountain landscape. However, the advent and acceleration of global climate change, illegal cutting of forests, over exploitation of resources and unplanned development are posing serious threats to the fragile ecosystems and sustenance of the future communities. Over 2 million region’s population lives in this mountain complex, who mainly depend on agriculture, pastoral activities and more recently on tourism. Stewardship of our natural resources and the ecosystems are key for our sustenance in this unique mountain complex.

The present environmental situation in Gilgit-Baltistan demands for developing a strategy that should focus on changing perception of the communities towards our natural resource from consumption to stewardship”. Our main goal is to bring change in people’s perception towards our natural resources including forest, wildlife, and water resources, and bring change in behaviour of the individuals towards our ecosystems. This could be achieved through the development of environmental education programs that would promote the social activities which would reduce ecological risk. The ultimate goal of environmental education is to raise environmentally responsible behaviour within our communities. It means that each person within a community become conscious of his/her own actions as meaningful and that their actions could positively influence on the environment.


Harmony lost: Man vs. Nature

The first stage of would be to bring environmentally responsible behaviour in the communities, this include: formation of the knowledge base (educational material on environment) for communities, and values that would guide an individual in planning of actions that focuses on improvement of the environmental situation. In other words, by developing knowledge base and value of environment, the person develops his/her environmentally responsible behaviour. Building of knowledge base is the first step that would play a vital role in protecting the natural resources and valuing the environment they live in.

The second stage would be to encourage the community members to make use of environmentally responsible behaviour and develop environmental management programs through business organizations. It is in this context, Silkroute to Health would like to bring an Environmental Management framework for working towards environmental responsibility. It contains the following steps:

The organization has to analyse the concerns and information needs of the communities;

The organization has to build knowledge base (research material on local environment and health, highlighting local environmental and health issues in seminars/conferences and workshops for building awareness) and set environmental policies, objectives and plans;

The organization has to develop and facilitate communities in building programs for a shared culture of environmental responsibility;

The organization has to facilitate communities to execute projects with the help of community-based organizations;

The organization has to develop standards and measures of performance. It is another way to encourage environmentally responsible behaviours among communities; and

The organization has to build linkages for joint collaboration on pertinent issues of mountain environment and community health and build cross-linkages with international institutions for knowledge sharing and funding community driven programs.

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