Monday, April 18, 2011
Tackling Poverty with Sustainable Living
In September 2010, the UN Summit adopted a list of 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDG) aimed at reducing poverty by 2015, of which environmental sustainability is a contributing factor. Many organizations across the world are working on one to several of these goals, but the work of the Watershed Organization Trust (WOTR) works towards 5 of these goals. Their mission includes reducing poverty by increasing the capacity of individuals and communities to help themselves, “regenerate the eco-space”, and live sustainably in their environment.
Through their mission, WOTR is helping India achieve 5 of the MDGs including: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger, Achieve Universal Primary Education, Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women, Reduce Child Mortality, and Ensure Environmental Sustainability. Other current initiatives are working with climate change to help reduce our effects on the climate and how to cope with the change, watershed development that helps people live sustainably in rain dry areas, and local self-governance. Their training center in Darewadi offers live training and workshops to organizations and governments across the globe looking for guidance on implementing similar projects in their areas. Even with all these initiatives, WOTR is still finding new areas requiring attention that the organization believes they have the competencies and capacity to implement, including a School for Sustainable Living and Livelihood to help with the current gap between current skills and skills required for available jobs, Community Eco-Tourism, and Renewable Energy.
WOTR is able to handle all these initiatives due to their organization structure. As a specific department reaches approximately 60 employees, they spin off the department to a sister organization such as the Sampada Trust , which organizes women into self help groups to raise money for the village for purchases such as 'clean stoves' and SEID, which focuses specifically on the program implementation for the rural watershed development related projects in Maharashtra. However, this organizational structure may become too unwieldy in the future as it raises the question of how to spin off organizations when the resources to a specific region grow too large. Also, partially due to a vague mission statement, WOTR finds itself expanding into areas where it originally did not have any intention of being involved. When observing the range of current and new initiatives, one could argue WOTR is experiencing mission drift or mission creep as they no longer focus their efforts on only Watersheds and instead focus more on overall sustainable living for these rural areas.
For more information on watershed's specifically:
EPA.gov - What is a Watershed?
Sustainable on Watershed Development
Photos courtesy of WOTR.org