I can’t stop telling people to grow more trees and care more for the environment. The most crucial means to a happy, healthy life is to care about ecological concerns. – Htay, Moebye Village
With Kalyana Mitta Foundation, our partner in Myanmar, we have successfully concluded our Inle Lake project, thanks to three years of funding from the UK’s Big Lottery fund.
The Issue: Overuse of chemical fertilisers and pressure from increased tourism is damaging the Inle watershed’s unique eco-system. Farmers are in debt to multinational chemical corporations and have few opportunities to make an economically and ecologically sustainable living. Young people are particularly disempowered. Many migrate to Thailand or resort to illicit ways of earning a living.
The Solution: We worked with Inle’s young people to develop sustainable livelihoods and create a brighter future. We trained them to implement sound agricultural practices to increase sustainable land use and encouraged them to share their knowledge with local farmers. Aiming to protect the watershed and increase its resilience to climate change, our youth-led project took a holistic approach both to conservation and the needs of local communities.
Our Impact: 86 young people graduated from eco-farming and eco-social enterprise training courses. They started 25 demonstration farm plots in their villages, and a further 26 community projects, including an eco-café selling locally grown organic produce and crafts. They report increased confidence in their ability to earn a living without having to leave the area.
After the training I began to be free of fear and make use of locally available resources for farming. No-one knew how to turn these into useful products before. Now we know how to use buffalo dung as a natural fertiliser and I’m able to share practical knowledge about bokashi composting and the production of soap, and bamboo vinegar. – Ko Sein Myint, Pekhon
The legacy from our project lives on. Over 1000 households are growing an increased diversity of crops and 20 new or strengthened Green Youth Groups are linking with other groups to influence opinion, by lobbying local government on watershed management issues and transparency in decision-making. The seeds planted through our project are now bearing fruit, demonstrating that when given support and access to knowledge, young people can shine – and make the world a better place for us all!