23 February 2010
by Karma Loday, UNV Support Officer, Kathmandu
UNV Nepal along with other Volunteer Sending Agencies in Nepal supported two events in Kathmandu on the occasion of International Volunteer Day (IVD) 2009.
Contamination and pollution in urban areas are major environmental issues, common particularly in developing countries. Nepal faces the same challenges including food shortages, especially during monsoon season when, due to landslides and road blockades, daily imported food supplies are hampered.
Nepal is listed as one of the countries where the food and nutritional demands of its people are not met through the current agricultural production and practices. Besides the natural calamities, urbanization and urban sprawl is usually blamed for it and also for the increase in the reliance of food, imported from neighbouring countries.
A training programme on urban agriculture and waste management in Kathmandu was organized on the initiative of United Youth for Peace, an active local youth organization in Nepal, in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture in Nepal.
The initiative by United Youth was intended to support the urban population not only in environmental preservation but also in economic and social aspects: for creating a clean environment and introducing alternatives in alleviating food shortages. School students, the future citizens of Nepal, were targeted to make them aware and understand the current challenges faced by Nepal and her people.
Hence, the major purpose for conducting this programme was to create a social bond between youth and the future citizens of Nepal in order to comprehend and approach such problems in solidarity. By involving the youth volunteers and school students it also expected to ensure future preparedness against such challenges.
About 300 enthusiastic youth volunteers from different youth organizations were selected to be trained on urban agriculture and waste management. The training for trainers was conducted a week in advance and on 4 December, facilitated by United Youth, all these volunteers visited about 60 local high schools.
Information on alternatives to food shortages was shared and proper management of waste at home, including techniques for utilizing bio-degradable garbage inside the house, was introduced. The students were shown how to grow fruits and vegetables using composts made out of kitchen garbage and water recycling system utilising basic scientific and low cost technology.
The second event followed on the 5 December 2009. A one-day programme started with a stand-still protest by the youth and students of Nepal, which took place in Ratnapark in the centre of Kathmandu.
Due to its location in the Himalayan region, the people of Nepal are experiencing the effects of global warming, particularly in the mountains and hilly areas of the Tarai region. The rate at which the snow is melting is alarming, and glacier lakes increase by the day. Currently more than 20 glacier lakes are at high risk of outburst. In 2009, Nepal experienced numerous unseasonal floods in the western part of the country. Evidence of the presence of mosquitoes in the once cold mountains has been reported.
The stand-still protest by the youth of Nepal was organized with an intention to put pressure on the National government and the World Leaders to address the issue on global warming more seriously at COP 15 conference which was held on 7 December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
About 700 volunteers from different youth organizations, including international NGOs, gathered for the stand-still protest. A representative from the National Planning Commission (NPC) of Nepal attended the event as the chief guest. The Prime Minister of Nepal is the chairman of the NPC of Nepal.
The petition banner signed by more than a thousand youth from all parts of Nepal was handed over to the representative of NPC. One behalf of UNV, Mr. Karma Loday, UNV Programme Support Officer, delivered a speech and read out the message from the Secretary General of the United Nations for International Volunteer Day.
The programme concluded with more speeches from the guests and an environment related Nepali song was performed by one of the JICA Volunteers. The event was covered by the local media and broadcasted on the same day.