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An Application That Monitors Forest Resources And Helps Management

While the app is being tested in India, Khare said it can also be used in countries including Peru, Mali, Liberia and Indonesia

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forests
Traditional Toraja houses are seen in a forest near Rantepao, North Toraja, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. VOA

A web-based application that monitors the impact of successful forest-rights claims can help rural communities manage resources better and improve their livelihoods, according to analysts.

The app was developed by the Indian School of Business (ISB) to track community rights in India, where the 2006 Forest Rights Act aimed to improve the lives of rural people by recognizing their entitlement to inhabit and live off forests.

With a smartphone or tablet, the app can be used to track the status of a community rights claim.

Forest
A diesel ferry cuts through the Poshur river — the lifeline of Sundarbans — with travelers watching its heavily industrialized bank, which is rapidly increasing at the cost of world’s largest contiguous mangrove forest. wikimedia commons

 

After the claim is approved, community members can use it to collect data on tree cover, burned areas and other changes in the forest and analyze it, said Arvind Khare at Washington D.C.-based advocacy Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI).

“Even in areas that have made great progress in awarding rights, it is very hard to track the socio-ecological impact of the rights on the community,” said Khare, a senior director at RRI, which is testing the app in India.

“Recording the data and analyzing it can tell you which resources need better management, so that these are not used haphazardly, but in a manner that benefits them most,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Forest
The land-locked water body Lonar Lake Wikimedia Commons

For example, community members can record data on forest products they use such as leaves, flowers, wood and sap, making it easier to ensure that they are not over-exploited, he said.

While indigenous and local communities own more than half the world’s land under customary rights, they have secure legal rights to only 10 percent, according to RRI.

Governments maintain legal and administrative authority over more than two-thirds of global forest area, giving limited access for local communities.

In India, under the 2006 law, at least 150 million people could have their rights recognized to about 40 million hectares (154,400 sq miles) of forest land.

Forest
According to a report by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the total remaining tree cover of India that included forests and non-forest areas was 24.16% in 2015. Wikimedia Commons

But rights to only 3 percent of land have been granted, with states largely rejecting community claims, campaigners say.

While the app is being tested in India, Khare said it can also be used in countries including Peru, Mali, Liberia and Indonesia, where RRI supports rural communities in scaling up forest rights claims.

Also Read: Recent Deportation Of Rohingyas Lead To Refugees In India To Flee

Data can be entered offline on the app, and then uploaded to the server when the device is connected to the internet. Data is stored in the cloud and accessible to anyone, said Ashwini Chhatre, an associate professor at ISB.

“All this while local communities have been fighting simply for the right to live in the forest and use its resources. Now, they can use data to truly benefit from it,” he said. (VOA)

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Indian Government Spent Nearly Rs 4Kcr on Swachh Bharat Info, Education

“The Swachh Bharat mission can serve as a model for other countries around the world that urgently need to improve access to sanitation for the world’s poorest."

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swachhata abhiyan
The government's much publicised Swachh Bharat Mission -- which aims to enhance the level of sanitation in India and make the country open defecation free (ODF). Flickr

To make the Swachh Bharat Mission a success, India mobilised huge resources for information, education and communication (IEC) activities, with a new report estimating that the cash expenditure by the government, private sector, and the development community to be between Rs 3,500-4,000 crore in five years since the programme’s launch.

Of this cash spend, around 20 per cent was spent by the erstwhile Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, around 35 per cent by the state sanitation departments, around 25 per cent by other government ministries, and around 20 per cent by the private sector and the development sector collectively, said the report by consultancy firm Dalberg Advisors.

Under the Swachh Bharat Mission, the government has shown remarkable ability to leverage resources across the public sector, private sector, media, and civil society, to make sanitation a mass movement in India.

In fact, the study estimates that the Swachh Bharat Mission mobilised a spend equivalent worth Rs 22,000-Rs 26,000 crore in monetary and non-monetary information, education and communication activities.

The researchers reached this figure by identifying the key activities and costs by different actors, modelling the number of “exposures” created, and estimating the investment required if the government were to “buy” these exposures in an efficient market.

An average person living in rural India was exposed to between 2,500-3,300 SBM related messages over the last five years, according to the study titled “An assessment of the reach and value of IEC activities under Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen)”.

Young Indians
Young Indians want to strengthen the ‘Swachh Bharat’ initiative. Wikimedia Commons

A large majority of these messages were routed via newly constructed toilets, mass media, and the

Swachh Bharat logo. Other significant contributors included ambient media such as wall murals and hoardings, and other conventional channels such as inter-personal communication (IPC), digital media, and cinema.

Since the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission on October 2, 2014, over 10 crore households toilets have been built in the country, leading to a significant improvement in sanitation coverage and reduction in open defecation.

Since 2014, engagement from the top political and government leadership, especially the Prime Minister, induced catalytic participation across segments, giving the cause of sanitation consistent attention and focus.

This translated into a mission mode approach where a range of government ministries, private sector organisations, the philanthropic ecosystem, civil society, and the media and entertainment sector participated to bring sanitation messaging and awareness to citizens at significant scale.

Also Read: Motorola Launches its First Smart TV in India

When Modi visits the US later this month, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will honour the success of Swachh Bharat that has transformed lives around the country.

“Globally, sanitation-related diseases kill nearly 500,000 children under the age of five every year. Yet despite its importance, sanitation has not received significant attention. A lot of governments are not willing to talk about it, in part because there are not easy solutions.

Before the Swachh Bharat mission, over 500 million people in India did not have access to safe sanitation, and now, the majority do. There is still a long way to go, but the impacts of access to sanitation in India are already being realised,” the Gates Foundation said in a statement.

“The Swachh Bharat mission can serve as a model for other countries around the world that urgently need to improve access to sanitation for the world’s poorest.” (IANS)