Assam Youth leading the way on ‘Climate Action’

The real action for climate change is led by youth globally #FridayForFuture is the most prominent climate movement and with the involvement of Swedish Climate Activist Greta Thunberg, it took the center stage of all prominent discussions on Environment and Climate across the world.

Meanwhile, 18 years Utpal Hazong from Azarbari village of Dhemaji District of Assam in India is bearing the torch as a climate action leader in his locality. He is active in his studies, co-curricular activities, and other social welfare activities. He is also the president of the newly formed AK-Young Star Youth Club in his village where he leads the youth to take action to prevent the use of plastic bags and any other materials that are hazardous to the climate.

A village like Azarbari is one of the locations which are climatically vulnerable to annual floods for the past many years. Utpal and his friends have seen the fury of flood and how it erodes the topsoil every year by making the agricultural fields infertile. Thus to prevent soil erosion, Utpal along with his youth club members have initiated the plantation of saplings in and around the village.

He is also motivating his friends and other elder members of his community to plant saplings on their Birthdays or any important dates of their near and dear ones. This has yielded results. The Panchayat leader has announced during one of the village meetings, that instead of giving valuable gifts people might think of gifting saplings by keeping in mind, environmental factors. Utpal along with his peers lead from the front to plant saplings even around the river banks to prevent soil erosion in the future.

Apart from the plantation drive, the youth along with his peers also undertakes regular cleanliness drives in and around their village, to make the surroundings clean and plastic-free. They also promote the practice of adopting locally available resources, such as using their homemade bags for shopping, etc, and the use of organic manure in backyard kitchen gardens too.

He also talks about engaging with social media to generate awareness of initiatives undertaken by the club on climate change. According to him, generating awareness, and building capacity on Climate Change Adaptation at District, Block, Panchayat, and community levels is extremely essential to build a mass movement towards the restriction of global warming. He dreams of engaging youths, college students, and other active stakeholders that can give the much-needed impetus to dealing with Climate Change related issues.

Utpal says “Due to high alarming changes in Climate, we have taken steps and acted locally to plant saplings in the villages and beside the river bank to reduce erosion and increase green cover”

The victims of nature’s fury in the village live in fear “People in our village, are somehow fearing and knowing the death of our son and daughter-in-law, we are left with no source of income to feed the children. I am also worried about the security of my grandchildren”, sighed the grandmother of three children

Utpal is a member of Save the Children, along with Youth Interventions; the organization is also engaged in Child Centered Disaster Risk Reduction (CCDRR) related activities. It has worked towards resilience-building interventions among youth. Utpal from Azarbari has been one of the key stakeholders during our interventions. His family lives in the intervention areas of Save the Children emergency responses in the past as well as CCDRR-related interventions.

The family has received emergency Food and Non-Food materials support from Save the Children. The village also receives benefits under the Digital Inclusion project that the organization is implementing in the Dhemaji District of Assam. Utpal has been part of the Children and Adolescent groups that the organization has formed in the area to enhance the child protection mechanism at the grassroots level.

Villages like Azarbari in Dhemaji district are at the receiving end due to the adverse effects of climate change. One would find flood water everywhere during monsoon season and scarcity of clean water for daily use during the rest of the time. People are forced to relocate and suffer the loss of lives, property, and livestock catching them in a vicious cycle of intergenerational poverty. In such a situation Youths like Utpal are playing a significant role as Climate Champions to ensure a better future for everyone.