AHMEDABAD-BASED Mahila Housing Trust (MHT) is one of the recipients of the 2019 United Nations Global Climate Action Award, for its project ‘Women’s Action Towards Climate Resilience for Urban Poor in South Asia’ announced Thursday.
It has been selected for the award in the category “Women for Results”, which recognises the critical leadership and participation of women in addressing climate change.
Established in 1994, MHT is an autonomous organisation with the objective of improving habitat conditions of poor women in the informal sector. It will be celebrating its 25 years with a series of events, as a part of which an international grassroots conclave has been organised on November 20, 2019.
MHT’s project is aimed at building resilience capacities of over 25,000 low-income families living in slums and informal settlements across seven cities in three South Asian countries, including Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Ranchi, Jaipur, and Bhubaneswar in India, Dhaka in Bangladesh and Kathmandu in Nepal.
“Under the project, MHT helped organise 114 community action groups, which reached out to 27,227 women in 107 slums. Out of the women we have worked with, 8,165 women were recorded to demonstrate an increase in knowledge seeking behavior,” Bijal Brahmbhatt, the Director of MHT said.
Additionally, over 1,500 women have been trained as ‘climate-saathis’, who are responsible for communicating the issue of climate change to their community in the local language.
This exercise resulted in the reduction of the proportion of participants who viewed climate change as an act of god, from 26 per cent to 9 per cent.
Under the project, around 28,000 energy audits — which have saved over $ 7,00,000 per annum or over Rs 5 crore in electricity costs — have been undertaken in slum communities to date.
“These interventions included installing over 200 modular roofs and 500 roofs with solar-reflective white paint, while also having led to a reduction of 105 tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum,” Bijal added.
Through projects like these, MHT is empowering women to take action against four major climate risks namely heatwaves, flooding & inundation, water scarcity and water-vector-borne diseases. These types of slow-onset events tend to attract less global attention, despite disproportionately impacting low-income households.