COMMUNITY ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCE CENTER
a field academy of ATREE
Community Environmental Resource Centre is an ATREE Field academy engaged in wetland conservation, sustainable livelihood and climate action. CERC was established in 2007 to put in practice the philosophy of wise use of wetlands by the Ramsar Convention. Since then, CERC has been working in Vembanad region to enhance the capacity and institutional networks of local communities and stakeholders for the sustainable management of wetlands so that it is restored, protected and maintained for generations to come. Wetlands, being more vulnerable to climate change, invites urgent actions and combined efforts to combat threats to the lives and livelihoods. Over the years CERC has been trying to address them by establishing partnerships with various government departments, academic institutions and other civil society organizations. CERC has played a major role in the formation of inclusive institutions for sustainable livelihoods, empowering community for better resilience, promotion of Communication Education and Public Awareness (CEPA), better natural resource management and climate adaptation. The unique and pioneering work of CERC has reckoned its position as an institute of excellence in the area.
The Vembanad estuarine system in Kerala, a designated Ramsar site, is one of the most beautiful and largest humid tropical wetland ecosystems in the south-west coast of India. The veritable presence of numerous canals and streams along with the legendary backwaters, the never-ending panorama of lush green paddy fields, towering coconut trees and thriving birdlife make it a delightful destination for tourism.
This unique backwater with a surface area of 36,500 ha spreads across three districts of the state - Alappuzha, Kottayam and Ernakulam. 1.6 million people depend on the lake and its natural ecosystem for their livelihood. Kuttanad region, the southern portion of the Vembanad Wetlands, has developed a unique system of below sea level farming which is declared a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS). The six major rivers originating in the Western Ghats - Manimala, Achankovil, Pampa, Periyar, Meenachil and Moovattupuzhayar drain into Vembanad - making it an ‘inland fish basket’ of Kerala.
Eventually, this unique wetland had been subjected to intense human interventions for agriculture and developmental activities.
OUR LATEST PROJECT
Menstrual hygiene is not just about the product we use, but how we dispose of it. Of the tons of garbage produced each day, a part of it is sanitary waste, predominantly disposable sanitary napkins and diapers. Synthetic Sanitary napkins are mostly non-biodegradable materials. A single sanitary pad is equal to 4 plastic bags and it takes more than 800 years to degrade naturally. Tons of such used synthetic sanitary pads are expelled into the environment through garbage and part of it is being burnt. This ultimately ends up in landfills or waterbodies, polluting the Vembanad. In this backdrop, we work with the rural women community towards sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives like menstrual cups and cloth pads to get rid of the crisis of sanitary waste and its management and to make tag green.
This program was flagged off in Muhamma, as part of the antrix funded project, Muhammodayam and more than an year long efforts of CERC were paid off when Muhamma was crowned "the first-ever sanitary pad free sustainable menstrual panchayat" in the country. This innovative and unique project caught the attention of the entire country and proved to be the best example of how such conservation activities are implemented with the support of stake holders and the arms of LSGs in any community.