Rohan Wadhawan 24. September 2019 13:18:54 IST
The ViSTARa project was the result of a stressful 24-hour hackathon hosted by Technology Innovation Lab (UNTIL) India as part of the Global Reboot the Earth hackathon in six nations. This hackathon focused on three of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, namely, quality education, gender equality and climate change.
Our name embodied the goals literally and spiritually. Vistara is derived from the Sanskrit word " vistar ", which means "expansion" or in this case "inclusion". It is also an abbreviation for the names of the five team members who founded it ̵
During the research, we came across astonishing figures on agriculture, which represents the most important source of livelihood for about 70 percent of rural households in India. According to the World Resources Institute's 2014 Climate Analysis Indicators Tool (WRI CAIT), India's main source of greenhouse gas emissions was the energy sector (68.7 percent of total emissions), followed by agriculture with 19.6 percent of total emissions. In other words, our biggest source of revenue and employment is our second largest negative factor.
In further research, we found that the employment of women in agriculture is much higher than that of male employees. In addition, 80 percent of all economically active women in India are employed in agriculture. Finally, the total number of NABARD-sponsored self-help groups for women is 2.05 lakh or 1.20 lakh. These facts shaped the product that we designed during the hackathon.
Our product aims to provide rural women in India with access to educational resources and networks of dedicated climate educators and mentors by using the existing self-help infrastructure. It has been found that the Community Resource Personnel (CRP) strategy is best suited for the large scale development and promotion of SHGs and their network. That's why we've developed an e-learning portal with modules on precision farming, healthcare, science, technology, engineering, arts and entrepreneurship. With our Train the Trainer strategy, we impart these capabilities to the CRPs, who in turn make sure they reach the last mile.
We also used government-provided data and predictive analytics to identify district-level deforestation in India. Depending on the severity of the deforestation, SHGs in or near the affected area will be notified to take the necessary measures to control deforestation. India lives on agriculture with rain food. To promote sustainable irrigation practices, we have used regional precipitation data in combination with crop information to suggest crops that require minimal additional irrigation.
We have also developed a crowdfunding platform based on Blockchain technology that allows people from different walks of life to contribute to environmental protection. Last but not least, we have set up a portal for Women Climate Champions to present their innovative solutions to combat climate change.
We hope to create a sustainable initiative that will benefit the next generation of climate action leaders.
The author is part of the ViSTARa project and Advitya Sood represented the group on 21 September at the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2019.
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