Climate Changing Communities

Greenhouse gasses, Carbon footprints, Energy efficiency, protracted debates between politicians and thinkers. Is this what you think of when you think of climate change? For most people climate change is something that lies in the distant future.

For people like Bhan, Devidas, Jitendra Luxmi and their communities, which depend heavily on climate sensitive natural resources, climate change is a reality that has altered their lives drastically. Ironically, this vulnerable section of society is the one that is most excluded from policy decisions on climate change.

Through a collaborative project, Video Volunteers and the Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change, have documented the effects of climate change on local communities across 14 states in India. You’ve heard what the climate change experts have to say. Now you can hear the stories of those directly affected by climate change. To ensure that these voices are heard and included in the climate change discussion, we ask you to forward this webpage to others, particularly organisations that work with climate change.


Climate Change in North India

What does climate change have to do with ‘conflict areas’?

Born to a family of farmers in Jammu and Kashmir, Sajad is familiar with the challenges faced by the agricultural community. In mainstream media, Kashmir is always portrayed as an area saddled with border conflict but stories about people’s livelihoods are hardly covered. His video shows how melting glaciers and rising temperatures are affecting crops.

What does climate change have to do with apples?

Apple production forms a considerable part of Jammu and Kashmir’s economy but in recent years the production has taken a hit due to erratic weather patterns. Farmers tell our Community Correspondent Nadeem that these days they need to give their apple trees that extra boost of chemicals and pesticide.

What does climate change have to do with tourist destinations?

Avdesh is from Solan district in Himachal Pradesh, which is famous among tourists for its cool temperatures and hilltop towns. In this video he shows us that rising temperatures, decrease in snowfall and heavy pollution are vandalizing the postcard beauty of his district. For an area which is heavily dependant on tourists, this has been disastrous.

What does climate change have to do with pesticides?

Satyawan traded in a career as a Sarpanch (village council chief) to liberate the voices of his community in Haryana. Farmers from Haryana tell Satyawan that their crops have suffered from untimely monsoons forcing them to use pesticides, medicines and sprays to boost their harvest.

What does climate change have to do with grinding mills?

Luxmi takes us to her hometown in Uttarakhand where for years people have used grinding mills, called Gharats, that ran on water and provided flour for 150 villages.  Excess rain has been repeatedly washing away these Gharats and these mechanisms are slowly fading away.

What does climate change have to do with grocery baskets?

Our Community Correspondent Vipin introduces us to Jogaram, who has been weaving baskets all his working life –over 35 years. The balance between nature and handicrafts is as delicate as the patterns Jogaram weaves. He tells Vipin that it is increasingly difficult to source for cane and bamboo to make these baskets because forests are disappearing.

Climate Change in Central India

What does climate change have to do with rice?

For the Khatik community that Shambhu belongs to, people seem to have no hope that their hardships will ever come to an end. “We used to get 8 sacks of grain; now we get no more than 2 sacks.” A farmer in Rajasthan reminisces those times when harvests were better. Farmers and season based workers tell our Community Correspondent Shambhu how the grain harvest has depleted over the years due to lack of rain.

What does climate change have to do with rivers?

“This is where a tributary of the Barak River used to flow”, a farmer tells our Community Correspondent Ajit Singh. The spot where they stand on is now an open field. Rivers are the traditional sources of irrigation for crops and also a means for people to get fish. With river beds eroding and rivers shifting path, the livelihoods of the people of Kachar District, Assam have been adversely affected.

What does climate change have to do with tribes?

Through her videos, Achungmei documents stories of the people in her area and the everyday challenges they face. In Imphal district, Manipur, a local inhabitant observes how industrialization has destroyed the forests and the resources on which the people of the area depend on for all kinds of raw materials ranging from fruits and vegetables to bamboo for baskets and handicrafts.

What does climate change have to do with migrants?

As the youngest Community Correspondent of the team, 18 year old Mukesh has extensively covered issues in his community spanning from agriculture to corruption in Jharkhand’s education system. Mukesh’s video documents the changes that farmers have seen in the past 30 years. They feel that increased industrial activity in the state has a lot to do with the changing rain patterns. With their harvests failing,many farmers are forced to uproot themselves and find work in cities.

What does climate change have to do with industries?

Bhan comes from Chhattisgarh, an area where locals are often forcefully evicted to make way for new factories and mining sites. This has spurred Bhan to be a vociferous critic of such social injustices and she has been actively participating in movements and demonstrations for the past few years.

Bhan’s video highlights the precarious situation that India faces. The increased industrialisation of areas like Chhattisgarh which promises the locals more job opportunities, takes away from them their traditional sources of livelihood. As resources like soil are increasingly laden with toxicity, farmers find that agriculture is a loss making activity and have no choice but to look for jobs in cities.

What does climate change have to do with cloth?

Gujarat is the home khadi (hand spun cotton). In this video, a livestock herder and khadi weaver tells our Community Correspondent Jitendra how a decline in cotton production has led to a rise in prices of raw materials. As a result, traditional occupations like weaving khadi are fading. Out of the 100 weavers in his village, this weaver is now the only one who makes khadi.

What does climate change have to do with farming families?

Anand is a media activist working in one of the most sensitive areas in the country, Malegaon in Maharastrata. Born in a migrant dalit family, he chronicles caste oppression, denial of basic rights to his community and the toll that migration has on them.

In this video, a family of farmers describes how their farming practices have been affected by erratic weather patterns. Farming in dry weather and still air requires extra labour and money but yields little produce.

What does climate change have to do with rainfall?

Rohini is determined not to become another statistic of early marriage. Through her role as a Community Correspondent, she not only documents stories of people in her community but also strives to empower her community by encouraging awareness and learning.

In her video, Rohini shows us how different groups  in Bahutej District, Maharashtra are affected by lack of rainfall. The quarry contractors worry that drying quarries will result in lesser work and income for them. Simultaneously farmers worry about their drying crops and cattle.

What does climate change have to do with fruit juice?

Amol Lalzare was born and brought up in the Sathe Nagar slums of Mumbai. He finds that the city he loves often forgets his people and turns a blind eye to their needs. He asserts the voices and concerns of his community through his powerful videos on the needs and wants of people in the slums.

This video documents how climate change has affected vendors in the city.  A local juice vendor complains that he can’t satisfy his customers because unseasonal rains have meant that his sugarcane produce is not sweet.

Climate Change in South India

What does climate change have to do with rice?

Margaret is a Dalit Christian from Trichy, Tamil Nadu. She is a staunch human rights activist and feminist who has been working with her community and women’s groups. She is exasperated with the media in her state which has no space for the voices of dalits, tribals and women.

In Tamil Nadu, farmers tell Margaret that they have exhausted all means trying to protect their harvest. Even then, the effects of climate change have proved to be too drastic for them to cope: “All our crops were washed away,” says a paddy farmer, “Nothing we plant will stay because of excess water in our fields.”

What does climate change have to do with fish?

Mani is a renaissance man. He balances work with an NGO, teaching in a school and reporting as a CC. He is a powerful dalit voice in feudal Tamil Nadu and also an amateur scientist. He makes videos on education, health, corruption and empowerment.

Mani shows us how entire families support themselves through fishing. What happens when fishermen can no longer predict when to go out to the seas?

What does climate change have to do with vegetables?

Devidas comes from an Adivasi farming family in Goa. He is a anti-mining activist and a budding environmentalist. He has shot many powerful videos chronicling the destruction caused by mining to the people and the ecology.

In his video, Devidas shows how rice farmers and fishing communities along the coastal belt of Goa have been affected by changes in rainfall.

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