COPING WITH THE COVID-19 CRISIS: AARANYAK’S INTERVENTIONS
Aaranyak works for conservation of nature, natural ecosystems, biodiversity; protection of wildlife and environment; sustainable management of natural resources; mitigation of disaster and climate risk and for empowering poor and marginalised communities through livelihood interventions. Well-being of nature as well as human communities is the essence of its vision, mission, goal and objectives. It is with this spirit of proactive voluntarism that Aaranyak jumped into action to respond to the crisis unleashed by the outbreak of the COVID-19. Aaranyak rose to the occasion by (i) taking pro-active measures on its own to regulate its organisational activities completely in accordance with the instructions and guidelines of GOI and GOA; (ii) disseminating awareness to its thousands of stakeholders throughout the state of Assam and the NE region, and (iii) at the same time assisting the efforts of the Central and the State Government to prevent and deal with the pandemic. and (iii) take initiatives to develop and maintain a positive spirit amongst conservation workers even during the limitations imposed by COVID-19 pandemic.
We present here a profile of our interventions to cope with the Corona Crisis in chronological order covering our activities from mid-March till April 30, 2020. More activities will be added as some planned programs are undertaken in the coming days.
Aaranyak’s engagement with mitigation of the COVID-19 calamity
16 July 2020: Aaranyak’s wildlife biologist, Ms. Alolika Sinha was invited as a panellist for a webinar organised by School of Ocean Science and Technology, Kerala University of Fisheries & Ocean Studies, Kochi. The subject of discussion was “COVID 19 and Biodiversity Research in India”.
15 July 2020: The NRM team distributed 200 masks among the people living in Flood Relief camps at Pilkhana, Kohora (close to our Kohora FS) so that they can have some degree of covid safety. The masks were handed over to the on duty Asha worker in front of some occupants for distribution to the individuals.
25 & 26 June 2020: Dr. Parthajyoti Das, head of the Water Climate and Hazard Division, Aaranyak was invited for an online discussion programme organised by the Geography Department, Devicharan Baruah Women College on 25th and 26th June, 2020. Dr. Das spoke about how the COVID 19 crisis and the floods have emerged as disasters in the state at present. He further added that due to lockdown the air pollution level has come down. But the increasing medical waste bif not properly addressed may pose a problem in future.
24 June 2020:In the series of “Eco Talk”, another webinar was delivered by Alolika Sinha, a wildlife biologist of Aaranyak titled “Grasslands and its obligate fauna, a forgotten ecosystem”
11 June 2020: The Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) team of Kohora River Basin (KRB) Karbi Anglong, are working to develop institutes for community business initiatives. An ad-hoc Committee named, “PIRBI Biodiversity Business Management Committee” was formed on 11th July to manage the business. The committee took up initiatives to register as Producer and Marketing Cooperative. All the products will be launched in the market under the brand name of ‘Pirbi’ (a Karbi word means Biosphere). Already handmade tea, broom, and handloom sling bags are packaged for marketing. Moreover, the committee also explores to develop a biodegradable packaging material from leaf involving local women. The project team will guide the “Pirbi” with technical know-how until they are able manage the venture by themselves.
10 June 2020: The Natural Resource Management Team of Aaranyak is working closely with the under-privileged households of four villages in KarbiAnglong, aiding them with daily wages during this outbreak of COVID-19. As such, the people are engaged in planting saplings in a degraded community forest. So far, of the targeted 10000 saplings, 1000 saplings have been planted of mixed-species. So far, of the targeted 10000 saplings, 3200 saplings of mixed-species have been planted. A total of 22 villagers were benefited with daily wage earning.
05 June 2020: Aaranyak in association with PAJHRA, AASAA and AAWAA, provided food materials and face masks to 150 families of sevenfringe villages of Manas Tiger Reserve in Baksa District, under leadership of Ms. Anjali Tirkey and Bibhuti P.Lahkar. Of these, 66 families in Paharpur, 33 families in Simlabasti of Bhutankhuti, 19 families in Daodhara and remaining in Teleliguri, Munda Basti, Subankhata, Bulamari were reached. The volunteers of AASAA took an active part and the event was supported by individual donations.
22 May 2020: The Media Production & Communication Division of Aaranyak has been continuing organizing ‘Eco talk’- a series of free educational webinars through online platform for effective utilization of the COVID-19 lockdown period by both Aaranyak’s experts as well as by interested students and professionals. As part of this, on the occasion of International Day for Biological Diversity, Prof. P. C. Bhattacharjee, doyen of wildlife science in Northeast India and former Head, Department of Zoology, Gauhati University delivered a special webinar titled “Biodiversity Conservation in Northeast India and the Post COVID-19 Challenges”.
06 May 2020: In the series of “Eco Talk”, another webinar was delivered by Dr. Purnima Devi Barman, Project Leader of Greater Adjutant Stork Conservation Project ofAaranyak titled “Enabling Coexistence of People and Greater Adjutant Stork in Assam, India”.
03 May 2020: As part of “Eco Talk”, Mr. Udayan Borthakur, Head, Media Production & Communications Division of Aaranyak delivered a free webinar titled “Wildlife Photography for Beginners”.
02 May 2020: In the “Eco Talk” series, the Secretary General & CEO of Aaranyak,Dr. Bibhab Kumar Talukdar spoke on wildlife crime, titled “Current Scenarios of Wildlife Crime in Global and Local Perspectives”.
30 April 2020: Aaranyak provided two (2) Bajaj Pulsar motorcycles and 500 units of face cover to Golaghat Districts Police to fight the COVID- 19 Pandemic keeping in mind that part of Kaziranga National Park falls within Golaghat District.
30 April 2020: Aaranyak’s Organising Secretary took part in a Webinar hosted by the Honourable Minister of India, Health and Family Welfare and the Chairman, NITI Ayog to interact with CSOs and other non-Government organisations of the country about how to work jointly to prevent the Corona Pandemic and mitigate the adverse effects. The OS raised important issues and provided suggestions to the NITI Ayog.
30 April 2020: Greater Adjutant conservation initiative of Aaranyak produced 5000 face masks to distribute among communities. The Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup District, All Assam Students’ Union, several media houses and Government organizations extended their support and collaboration to this initiative.
29 April 2020: Manager, ‘Environment Education and Capacity Building Division’ of Aaranyak wrote an article focusing challenges and future prospect of corona crisis situation.
29 April 2020: Aaranyak provided 250 cotton face cover to the Range officer of Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park. News can be found in the following links:
28 April 2020: Aaranyak provided 500 units of cotton face cover to SDO Civil, Koliabor; SDPO, Koliabor, and local media persons based at Koliabor of Nagaon district. As part of Eco Talk, GIS specialist from the Geospatial Technology and Application Division of Aaranyak delivered a free webinar titled “Introdoction to QGIS”.
27 April 2020: Aaranyak distributed 200 numbers of cotton face cover to SDO Civil, Salbari, Baksa District, Bodoland Territorial Region; 400 numbers to frontline staff of Bansbari and Bhuyanpar Range offices of Manas National Park As part of Eco Talk, Head of Primate Research & Conservation Division delivered a free webinar titled “Golden langur: Ecology and Conservation”.
26 April 2020: The team members of Natural Resource Management Project of Aaranyak conducted awareness campaign on efficiently dealing with COVID-19 and distributed approximately 500 facemasksto the households of four villages in KarbiAnglong district.
26 April 2020: As part of Eco Talk, Manager of Geospatial Technology and Application Division of Aaranyak delivered a free webinar on “Basics of GPS application in research”.
25 April 2020: As part of Eco Talk, Head of Wildife Genetics Division of Aaranyak delivered a free webinar titled “Genetics for conservation of wildlife - Scopes and limitations”.
24 April 2020: Aaranyak contributed Rs 1 Lakh to Assam Government to help it strengthen government initiatives to check COVID-19 in Assam. The amount was transferred to the bank account of Assam Arogya Nidhi.
23 April 2020: Aaranyak provided 160 units of cotton face cover to Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Morigaon District to help the frontline staff of the Sanctuary to do their duty safely. As part Eco Talk , Head of Tiger Research & Conservation Division of Aaranyak delivered a free webinar talk titled “Counting tigers for conservation”.
22 April 2020: As part Eco Talk , Head of Water, Climate and Hazard Division of Aaranyak delivered a free webinar talk titled “What does climate change mean for northeast India? Exploring the hazardscape”.
21 April 2020: Aaranyak distributed 350 numbers of cotton face cover/ mask in the office of SDO Civil Bokakhat and Kohora Outpost, Golaghat district.
As part of Eco Talk, Head of Elephant Research & Conservation Division of Aaranyak delivered a free webinar talk titled “Human Elephant Conflict mitigation requires innovation in conventional approaches”.
20 April 2020: Media Production & Communication Division of Aaranyak initiated a series of free educational webinars titled ‘Eco talk’ through online platform for effective utilization of the COVID-19 lockdown period by both Aaranyak’s experts as well as by interested students and professionals alike. On the first day, Secretary General and CEO of Aaranyak, Dr. Bibhab Kumar Talukdar delivered a webinar on “Challenges and solutions to rhino conservation in Assam”.
17 April 2020: Aaranyak, in association with Department of Science and Technology, Government of Assam and the Assam Science Technology and Environment Council (ASTEC) jointly published an awareness booklet to sensitize public about the Corona pandemic.
10 April 2020: Aaranyak encourage its staff, members and networks to come forward and render their service to strengthen its fight against COVID-19 and requested them to register as a volunteer. A total of 11 members from 7 districts (Golaghat, Jorhat, Kamrup Metro, Barpeta, Dhubri, Bongaigaon, and Kamrup District) registered as volunteers to assist the Government of Assam in dealing with the Corona crisis through 'Protirodhi Bandhu’, an initiative of the Assam Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA).
10 April 2020: Aaranyak produced an awareness brochure on COVID-19 in English for general public. News can be found in the following links:
09 April 2020: Aaranyak developed an awareness pamphlet on COVID-19 in Hindi for public use. News links are given below:
08 April 2020: Aaranyak started engaging local community at living in the fringe of the Manas National Park, Kaziranga National Park and its project site in Dadara, Kamrup District for making face cover from cloths following the guidelines suggested by office of the Principal Scientific Advisor to Govt. of India.
07 April 2020: Manager, ‘Environment Education and Capacity Building Division’ of Aaranyak communicated its suggestion with government of Assam through proper channel involving Ms. Pomi Baruah, ACS about developing a SOP for disposal of single use masks.
04 April 2020: Developed an awareness brochure on COVID-19 in Assamese for use of public in general. The brochure was widely circulated through social media and organizational networks. It reached to about 70 thousand people. More news can be found following these links:
21 March 2020: Aaranyak Management issued Office Order as “ADVISORY ON PREVENTION OF COVID-19” to its employees regarding rules and norms to be observed to cope with the COVID-19 situation.
21 March 2020: A meeting was held in Aaranyak’s Admin office where the COVID-19 Pandemic was discussed and Aaranyak’s course of action for ensuring the safety of its staff was chalked out.
19 March 2020: Manager of ‘Environment Education and Capacity Building Division’ of Aaranyak wrote a popular article on proper hand-wash and encouraged common people for soap and normal cloths rather worried about hand sanitizer. Reader from 17 districts informed telephonically that they are benefited by this article. Here are the links to news.
17 March 2020: Aaranyak prepared hand sanitizer in its Wildlife Genetic Laboratory by following the WHO recommendations. Besides, the Media Production and Communication Division (MPCD) of Aaranyak developed a video on how one can prepare hand sanitizer as per the WHO guidelines and circulated the video through social media. News links are given below