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Make Primary Environmental Care a Reality


03 / 1994

UNICEF organised a workshop at Ahmedabad in February/March 1994 to discuss why some development programme fell short of expectations. Broadly three areas were identified as important. Any development programme should meet the basic needs of the people - helath education, nutrition, water sanitation, conservation, transport and housing were some of the areas to be addressed.

When trying to meet these basic needs one should empower the people, the community, instead of an external agency dumping packages, their being unware of the value or hoe to use a donation.

The development programme should utilise to the full the resources without damaging them. These have to be managed and used according to the people’s culture and social values. There should be balance maintained between theory and practice; economic growth and natural resources.

e.g. - Industries often damage the environment. Any development programme should discuss this with the people first before an industry is set up, not taking action after the damage is done. They must be taught the importance of environment management, and have the strength to bargain and ask for what they went not tamely accept what is given on the principle that anything is better than nothing.

A development programme should incorporate basic needs, otherwise an imbalance occurs. Turning rice fields into gherkin plots for export deprives farmers of their food and eventually depletes the soil. The 32 storied Bank building costs Rs.1 per person and is a heavy drain of energy which a developing nation cannot afford.

In a certain toen in India huge trees were cultivated by a family and passed down from generation to generation. It provided cover and was used to distil a type of hard liquor like toddy.

Some years ago their President in an attempt to stop distilling ordered that all the trees be cut. Now there is bare land: people have been deprived of employment and the environment is adversely affected. Those in power should not forgot environmental concerns and social values in the execution of official duties.

The people must be empowered to take decisions have a true choice in what has to be done and invested with responsibility for what they obtain and be consulted in planning and implementation. Only then is participation genuine. But in reality social structure is hierarchical and there is no free expression of needs and opinions.

Key words


, India, Ahmedabad





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