empower local community

100 Water Heroes: Queen Rania Al Abdullah

Queen Rania Al Abdullah is the queen consort of Jordan and is known for her humanitarian focus and for using her platform to advocate for women’s right and issues of sustainability. In 1995, she founded the Jordan River Foundation, which seeks to “boost employment and conservation through eco-tourism projects.”

One of her most significant contributions to environmental sustainability in Jordan was the creation of the Arab Sustainability Leadership Group. The results of their first serious project were released in 2009 in the Responsible Competitiveness in the Arab World report, highlighting what companies can do to secure financial success, as well as operating in transparent, environmentally sustainable ways. In the introduction of the report, Queen Rania stated:

"A new architecture for a sustainable global economy must be designed now; it must guide new business practices today"

In addition to her work with the Arab Sustainability Leadership Group, Queen Rania has supported local farmers and encouraged organic farming practices, hoping to “provide health, environmental, and economic benefits while also helping to address the serious water shortages in the region” (Hattam, 2009).

Queen Rania is one of our #100WaterHeroes for her humanitarian and environmental initiatives, and for using her platform to uplift and empower the local community.

Twitter: @QueenRania

Facebook: @QueenRania

Instagram: @queenrania

100 Water Heroes: Yu Xiaogang

Environmentalist  

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Yu Xiaogang is a Chinese Environmentalist who has pioneered cutting-edge watershed management programmes to assist local communities who have been displaced by dam construction. As a result of his work in this field, social impact assessments are now included in mass development projects.

Yu became involved in watershed programmes after writing a social impact assessment as part of his PhD thesis on a dam built at Lashi Lake. This particular dam destroyed the area’s ecosystem, devastating the livelihoods of local fishermen and farmers.

In collaboration with the local community, government and private entrepreneurs, Yu rejuvenated the area, making it one of China’s top 10 sustainable developments. To achieve this, Yu put together a local watershed management committee, a fishery association, poverty alleviation programmes and road-building projects.

At the core of his work, Yu believes in empowering local villagers and does so by involving them in workshops and training programmes. In 2004, he brought 5 village representatives to a UN symposium on dam issues in Beijing. When speaking on the involvement of local communities, Yu stated:

“Having villager participation forever changed the history of the dam decision-making process. In the past, affected peoples were silenced. They had no voice in what happened to them and had to accept decisions made by the government and dam companies.”

Yu is one of our #100WaterHeroes for his development of revolutionary watershed management programmes, and for empowering local communities to be involved in dam decision-making processes.

100 Water Heroes: Jyoti Sharma

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Founder and President of the Forum for Organised Resource Conservation and Enhancement

Jyoti Sharma is Founder and President of the Forum For Organised Resource Conservation and Enhancement (FORCE), an NGO that “involves stakeholders from the community, hydrology experts, business leaders, and local politicians in a process that enables communities to create local pockets of water security.” Jyoti’s vision and work with FORCE is to empower local communities to make decisions surrounding water management and conservation, fostering sustainability and self-sufficiency.

After working for over 9 years in corporate and academic fields, Jyoti collaborated with like-minded individuals to launch FORCE in 2004. She is a member of numerous water security groups in India, and has been described as “losing a generational gap in water resource management knowledge by developing a citizen-based water management system run by a competent, decentralised local authority.”

Jyoti has been recognised for her impactful social innovation and entrepreneurship by being named an Ashoka Fellow, a network of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs. She is also a Swearer Fellow under Brown University.

Jyoti is one of our #100WaterHeroes because of her focus on empowering communities to make decisions and take responsibility for local water management and conservation

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/jyotisharmaforce

Website: force.org.in


100 Water Heroes: Amla Ruia

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Social Activist and Founder of the Aakar Charitable Trust

Known fondly as Water Mother, Amla Ruia is a social activist based in Mumbai, who has reintroduced traditional water harvesting techniques and built check dams in over 100 villages throughout Rajasthan. Rajasthan is an area particularly affected by drought and, in an effort to find a “sustainable and permanent solution for saving water,” Amla founded Aakar Charitable Trust.

The Aakar Charitable Trust relies on community-based approaches to the “protection of natural sources such as water, vegetation and soil as well as the promotion of dynamic education.” Together with local communities, the trust locates landscapes that will naturally capture water, such as a reservoir. Rather than building a dam from scratch, they are able to build check dams by using “the natural contours of the hilly landscape, building slopes, and shoring up spaces, to catch and keep water in these semi-natural basins or check dams” (Peerzeda, 2017).

Under Amla’s leadership, the Aakar Charitable Trust has built over 200 check dams in 100 villages across Rajasthan. The trust supplies 60% of the resources necessary to build a check dam, and relies on the community to provide the remaining 40%. Amla’s reintroduction of this traditional rainwater harvesting technique has transformed the lives of many living in the Rajasthan region, and she has been able to witness these positive shifts first-hand:

“The whole scenario is not changed, it is transformed. Where they couldn’t even own one cattle, they now have eight to nine. Where they couldn’t take one crop, they are taking two — or sometimes even a third crop. Their female offspring are going to school because the mother no longer has to go long distances to fetch water.” (in Jones, 2017)

Amla is one of our #100WaterHeroes for reintroducing traditional water harvesting techniques as a sustainable solution to Rajasthan’s drought, and for engaging local communities throughout the process.

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/amla-ruia-67936a129

Aakar Charitable Trust Website: https://aakarcharitabletrust.weebly.com/