Swarovski Waterschool Programme
The highland forest area of Chiang Mai province hosts a major watershed area alongside many ethnic communities, whose populations are highly dependent on water for their livelihood. Water shortages, drastic economic activity development, pesticide use, and littering in this watershed area are increasingly threatening the livelihoods of these ethnic communities and contribute to forest, soil, and water quality degradation in the area. Groups that are especially vulnerable to these threats include women, elders, persons with disabilities, and the youth. Local youth, including boys and girls are key actors in their communities as they are the future voice and decision makers. As a result, this project focuses on engaging local youth at an early stage in sustainable and responsible natural resource management practices as a basis for creating positive and sustainable change in their communities.
The highland forest area of Chiang Mai province is renowned for its strategic role as a main watershed area. It is also home to ethnic minorities whose population is equivalent to one fifth of the province’s population. For these ethnic communities, water is a vital resource that supports both food security (staple food) and economic activities (farming). Water security and access to clean drinking water are thus vital factors for ethnic communities’ survival and life quality. However, this high dependence on water is also a source of weakness, exposing ethnic communities to water-related issues such as water shortages and water contamination.
Additionally, the drastic development within the last decade of economic activities in the watershed area such as contract farming, mainly for corn, has been a major vehicle of large forest, soil and water quality degradation. The intensive use of pesticides and fertilizers over extended period of times has exposed local populations to extended health problems with dramatic consequences if not closely followed up. Besides, the economic development of the area has also seen an increase of garbage, litter and unauthorized dump, which is currently becoming a new issue in highland area.
Among the aforementioned issues stand vulnerable groups in highland communities such as women, children, elderly and persons with disabilities. Thus it is important to engage local youth at an early stage as they play a key role in their community, as tomorrow’s actor and decision makers, regarding responsible and sustainable management of local natural resources. Hence, the project will be implemented in Mae Had watershed area, more precisely in Yang Pian sub-district, Omkoi district, located in the highland area of Chiang Mai province. There, water sample laboratory analysis from the Regional Environmental Office Chiang Mai Region 1 (government authorities), show that stream water in Yang Pian sub-district has been contaminated with bacteria and toxic from intensive pesticide use. Consequently there is a strong need in this area to raise the awareness of the younger generations on the immediate issue and negative impacts of contaminated water as well as to build their capacities which will provide them with the right tool to bring positive change within their communities.
In this respect, children will be at the center of the project action, involved as main actors, which will grant them the ownership of every project steps and results. Hence, the project aims at increasing the capacities and knowledge of local youth on water as a key natural resource on which their community is highly dependent. In the same way, the project will empower the local youth to take action through small initiative projects in their community in order to concretely step into action and contribute to the development of their community. Henceforth, the project goal will be reached through three project objective as described below.
- Increase the education on water and improve the quality and sustainability of water education
- Increase access to clean water for students and improve the environmental hygiene
- Increase student, community, and local authority awareness on the impacts of unsafe water and other hygienic issues
Through the integration of an adapted version of the Swarovski Waterschool Curriculum into local school curricula, this project aims to raise awareness of boys and girls on the immediate issues and negative impacts on contaminated water, as well as increase their capacities and knowledge on water as a key natural resource for the livelihood of their communities.
Moreover, the Swarovski Waterschool Program will help to provide local youth with the right tools to empower them to bring positive change and take action in raising awareness on water issues in their communities to other local community members through a student research component of the curriculum. As part of achieving these goals, the capacity of the local school teachers will also be developed in order for them to fully understand and implement the curriculum in their classrooms.
3 local schools located in 3 villages (Mae Lan, Kong Sang, Sob Lan) of Yang Piang sub-district will be the center of the project action. The target schools also hosts students from 12 neighboring villages. In this regard the proposed project has the potential to reach 667 students and 35 teachers.
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