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Snehatheeram

- A Women's Collective in Sustainable Tourism

Evolution

The Tsunami of 2004 December shook the life of southern coastal villages of Kerala very badly resulting in the loss of about 30 lives and almost all their houses, and fishing equipments. Relief came from all over the world. Although relief went a long way in wiping their tears and infusing moral strength into their minds, people soon realised that one cannot prevent natural events such as Tsunami and instead of conquering or cursing the nature, man has to develop a resilience and strength to live in harmony with nature. Probably realising this, in the year 2006, AREED, an NGO supported by the French government, came forward to support the Local Government in implementing a long term community managed environment and livelihood restoration programme in the Tsunami Affected Panchayaths in Alappuzha District, Kerala, India”, This programme was later named as ‘Punarjani’ (meaning regeneration in Sanskrit). 

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Resolution

As a first step, local community (particularly women) and elected representatives had several brainstorming sessions and eventually took a collective decision to initiate joint actions to clean and restore the environment, canals and water bodies on one hand and revive their traditional livelihood avenues such as coir industry and fishing.  They took a solemn pledge to undo all their past acts that violated the laws of nature and to reconstruct their natural systems and sustainable livelihood avenues which their ancestors cherished and nurtured.

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Eco-Restoration

Kudumbashree, womens collectives at village levels under the state government women empowerment programme itiated actions to clean the localities, process solid wastes, revival of traditional water sources and protecting the beach by planting wave resisting trees. Interestingly, the waste management programme also offered self employment avenues to the local women

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Revival of Livelihood Avenues

Kudumbashree self employment units were encouraged and supported to revive the traditional skills and livelihood such as coir based production units and inland fishery. Care was taken to see that not only the activities dis not pose any environmental problems but also they are financially viable and self supporting

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Snehatheeram Community Managed Tourism

We realised that the back water tourism being promoted and practiced here is detrimental to the environment on one hand and socio-culturally unjust on the other. So in order to offer an eco-friendly and socially just alternative model of tourism we decided to launch a community initiative. It was decided to build an eco friendly cottage on the lake shore and invite eco-sensitive travellers to share the village experience. For this one Kudumbashree Women's Group came forward and called themselves as Snehatheeram (love shore). On 5th June 2014, the world environment day the project was launched. 

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