Climate change is posing serious threat to lives and livelihoods of millions of people around the globe. Given the anthropogenic impacts on the environment, we are currently witnessing unpredictable disasters like drought, flood, cyclone and others.
The poor and marginal communities in countries like India are more prone to risks and vulnerabilities posed by the Climate Change. Lack of adequate coping strategies to fall back on further aggravates the problem.
Historically known to be frequented by disasters like drought, cyclone and flood, peninsular India is now witnessing them further intensified by the current climate change phenomenon. People in this vulnerable area, particularly the poor community, small and marginal farmers are increasingly being affected by the effects of climate change.
DHAN Foundation has been working in the South Indian region for well over two decades. Through pioneering the design and implementation of innovative poverty alleviation, water conservation and coastal resource management models, DHAN is enabling the poor community to cope with climate change. Renovation and conservation of traditional water bodies like tanks and ooranis implemented by people through Vayalagams and Kalanjiams (farmers and women’s groups) promoted by DHAN are some of them. This has not only revived the livelihoods of the poor community and marginal farmers but also increased their resilience to the effects of climate change.
Advancing the cause of ‘Climate Change and Adaptation’, DHAN Foundation organised ‘Madurai Marathon’ on 22nd January, 2011 at Madurai Medical College ground. More than 30,000 participants including school and college students, members and leaders of Kalanjiam and Vayalagam enthusiastically participated.
We have been organizing Madurai Marathon for the past four years on various themes. The years 2007 and 2008 “Run for Water” focusing on the conservation of local water resources. The years 2009 and 2010 “Run to be free from Anemia” focused on control of Anemia among adolescent girls and pregnant women. In the current year 2011, Madurai Marathon focused on “Run for Climate Change Adaptation”.
Since 2007, we have been collaborating with various government institutions like Madurai Corporation, National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development (RGNIYD) and Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society (TANSACS), along with local urban bodies, and people institutions. Also we collaborated with various banks like State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Canara Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Indian, and other private banks, Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India, National Insurance Company (NIC), Indian Oil Corporation and Hi-Tech Arai. Further, corporates through their Foundations like AXIS bank Foundation have extended support for the Marathon. Philanthropic houses, individuals and various academic institutions have also partnered with us in the Madurai Marathon.
‘It is imperative that every human being on this earth, besides the governments and the society to take up adaptation and mitigation measures around. In this front, Madurai Corporation has been implementing various measures in response to climate change and environment degradation,’ thus spoke Shri.C.Kamaraj IAS, Madurai District Collector at the Madurai Marathon 2011, organized today on 22nd January, 2011.
‘Such kind of events plays a significant role in educating the mass, especially the students on the importance of environment and climate change. Institutions across the district, particularly academic and educational institutions should take up actions prioritizing climate change,’ he further added.
‘Madurai Marathon, 2011: Run for Climate Change and Adaptation’ was organized with the objectives of
- To create greater awareness on climate change and adaptation for understanding and action by all cititizens
- To initiate context-specific climate change mitigation measures with the participation of relevant stakeholders
- To promote tangible eco-conservation works in reducing carbon foot-prints
- To garner all-round support for CCA activities
More than 15,000 school and college students enthusiastically participated in the event. Shri.Mannan, Deputy Mayor, Shri.Sebastine, Commissioner and Shri.Saktivel, Chief Engineer of Madurai Corporation, Sister.Josephine Nirmala Mary, Principal, Fatima College and Shri.Singarayar, Shri.Madhan Kumar, hri.A.Umarani Programme Leaders of DHAN Foundation also participated in the event.
At 6.30 AM, ‘Half Marathon’ event started from Madurai Medical College Ground; around 300 participants, male and female alike, participated. Shri.Chandrasekaran, Circle Head, Axis Bank, Coimbatore Circle, Shri.Ganesh Kumar, Chief Regional Manager-Marketing, Indian Oil Corporation, Shri.Gijs Termeer, The Klimaat Bureau, The Netherlands, Shri.M.P.Vasimalai, Executive Director and Ms.Raghini, Program Leader of DHAN Foundation flagged off the half marathon event.
At 7.30 AM, ‘Walk for a Cause’ event started from Madurai Theppakulam; around 15,000 including students and members of Kalanjiam and Vayalagam participated, Shri.L.Subramanian, Vice President, Axis Bank, Coimbatore Circle, Shri.Gijs Dermier, The Klimaat Change Bureau, The Netherlands, Shri.Chinnapillai, Kalanjiam Movement Leader and Shri.Veluchamy, Vayalagam Movement Leader along with Shri.M.P.Vasimalai, Executive Director of DHAN Foundation flagged off the marathon event.
At 7.45 AM, ‘Dignitaries-led Walk and Differently-abled Walk’ was started from Madurai Race Course Ground; more than 300 participated. Shri.Mannan, Deputy Mayor, Madurai, Shri.Kanagaraj, District Disability Rehabilitation Officer, Shri.Chandrasekaran, Regional Manager, Axis Bank, Coimbatore, Shri.K.V.Krishnan, Chief Regional Manager, Indian Overseas Bank, Madurai along with Shri.Balasubramaiam, Chief Executive of People Mutuals flagged off the event.
Prize-awarding ceremony and cultural event was held at the Madurai Medical College ground; thousands of people participated in the event. Students who participated in the Marathon event shared their comments and feedback at the forum. All of them took a pledge to conserve and save the environment and fight climate change. Shri.Gijs Termeer, Klimatbureau, The Netherlands said, ‘Climate change is a global phenomenon. It is appreciable that such an event is organized in a city like Madurai in creating awareness and educating the general public, particularly the school and college students.’ He also mentioned a week long ‘Climate Street Party’ that was organized by 5000 neighbourhoods in Netherlands and they were promoting Madurai Marathon and its cause in tackling Climate Change as part of their six month long campaign.
The final event also witnessed awarding of prize to winners of Half Marathon event: Mr.K.Dakshinamurthy of St.Joseph Sports College won the first prize, while Mr.C.Sivakumar of Alagappa University Physical Education College won the second prize and Mr.V.R.Chellapandi of Master Athletics won the third prize in the men’s category. In the women’s category, Ms.N.Manjula of Yadava Women’s College, Ms.R.Annalakshmi and Ms.Divya of Fatima College won the first, second and third prize respectively.
Further, winners of the Essay, Art and Elocution competition conducted at the various schools and colleges as part of the Madurai Marathon event focusing on ‘Climate Change Adaptation’ were awarded by Shri.M.P.Vasimalai, Executive Director, DHAN Foundation, Shri.Chinnapillai, Kalanjiam Movement Leader, Shri.Veluchamy, Vayalagam Movement Leader and Shri.Gijs Termeer, The Klimaatbureau, the Netherlands. The booklet on Climate change, ‘Maatrathai Nokki (Towards Change)’ was also released.
In his address, Shri.Santhanam, Event Manager, Madurai Marathon said, ‘The coming 2012 Madurai Marathon will also focus on ‘Climate Change’. To conserve and save our environment and to tackle climate change, we need multi-level collaboration with various stakeholders like the government, academics, banks, corporate and NGOs. We require support for our activities promoting renovation of tanks and ooranis to tackle growing water problem, planting trees for promoting biodiversity, constructing farm ponds to mitigate drought in the farmer’s fields, and promote alternate source of energy like solar, wind and biogas. We invite institutions, philanthropies – individuals and institutions, corporate houses to provide financial aids in promoting action against climate change. We believe that to conserve nature is a duty bestowed upon each and every individual and on this year let us not forget that great change starts with small steps.
To conserve nature is a duty bestowed upon each and every individual, and DHAN Foundation and people institutions promoted by DHAN in collaboration with various stakeholders pledged to undertake various Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation measures in the coming year.
Madurai Marathon organized by DHAN Foundation thus witnessed the people of Madurai district coming together in beginning a movement to end climate change.
The concluding event witnessed, the people of Madurai district, resolving to
- Create environmental awareness among men and women, young and old alike.
- Reduce the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in their day-to-day life
- Avoid use of plastic bags to protect our environment
- Conserve and use natural resources, water, and electricity judiciously
- Commit to plant 100,000 seedlings this year (2011) for increasing the green cover
- Find and facilitate alternate livelihoods resilient to climate change
- Build medical infrastructures against the new disease outbreaks due to climate change
- Promote initiatives in conserving biodiversity and ecological balance
- Forge collaboration among government, private, civil societies and public for the cause of ‘Climate Change Adaptation (CCA)’