The 2018 floods that hit Kerala came as an eye opener to all. But most importantly it taught us how ill prepared was the affected community for such an eventuality. There are heroic stories of rescues being done by individuals who swam long distances to save lives of people and animals. Also some commendable work has been done by the coastal community members who volunteered to bring in their boats from far away places without a second thought. People learned the importance of knowing how to swim or to steer a boat and even stay afloat with old bottles or tyres. With impacts of climate change on the rise its important that we all be prepared by learning tricks, techniques and attain basic life skills of swimming.
A fisherman I met during our field work quoted "In the past all of us knew how to swim and stay afloat. We used to bath in the lake and some of us even swam to depths of the water bed to collect clam manually. Now due to increase in pollution people hesitate to swim in the water. Because of which a lot of our children doesn't know to swim"
With changing times we realized the necessity of learning a basic life skill such as swimming.
In this regard ATREE CERC with support of ANTRIX Corporation as part of its Disaster preparedness project in schools has been organized swimming lessons for young learners from govt schools in Alappuzha. This was done as part of the Jalapaadom Habitat Learning project, an environmental education program in schools of Kuttanad, Vembanad region. The main goal of this project is to create an awareness in students for knowing about their own habitats and thus they should understand the importance of its conservation
ATREE CERC work with 13 government schools in and around Kuttanad, Vembanad area. Out of these 13, 4 schools situated very nearer to the lake system (around 50m from the lake). Almost half of these schools had lost their classrooms, computer labs, school library etc. School remained closed for 2-3 months.
We conducted summer swimming training programs in schools. For the same we provided financial and technical support for the schools. Under the supervision of professional trainers, around 200 students from four schools, Govt. H S, Kuppapuam, St. Mary’s HS, Kainakary, NSS HSS, Nedumudy and St, Aloysius, Edatua learned swimming through this program. The program was done by trained instructor and in shallow waters in the Vembanad Lake.
We strongly believe that disaster preparedness needs to be scaled up across the country by training students and teachers on being prepared for any eventuality. With increasing risks of flood and sea level rise it has become important to provide basic life skills and survival skills to all. Young generation is at the highest risk of being impacted due to climate change. We need to get these young minds out to the field, help them learn to live with nature and consider the biodiverse environment as their own home. The Jalapadom project has been working with this focus of helping young learners understand more about their own ecosystem and surroundings.