Empowering Women to Protect South Asia's Vulnerable Rivers

African participants of the 2019 Women and Rivers Congress in Nepal. Image credit: Courtesy of International Rivers

Empowering Women to Protect South Asia's Vulnerable Rivers

Category Nature Conservation

Our project categories represent one of three core solutions pathways to solving climate change. Energy Transition focuses on renewable energy access and energy efficiency. Nature Conservation includes wildlife habitat protection and ecosystem restoration, as well as Indigenous land rights. Regenerative Agriculture supports farmers, ranchers, and community agriculture.

Realm Indomalaya

The Project Marketplace is organized by the major terrestrial realms divided into 14 biogeographical regions – N. America, Subarctic America, C. America, S. America, Afrotropics, Indomalaya, Australasia, Oceania, Antarctica, and the Palearctic realm, which coincides with Eurasia and is divided into Subarctic, Western, Central, Eastern, and Southern regions.

Status seed

Seed indicates an early stage project that needs some level of support to develop into a larger funding proposal. Active indicates any project that needs core programmatic funding. Urgent indicates a short-term project initiated in response to a natural disaster or other impending risk.

Funding Level $$

$$ indicates a project with a funding need between $50,000-$250,000.

Timeframe 15 Months
Partner International Rivers

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The One Earth Project Marketplace funds on-the-ground climate solutions that are key to solving the climate crisis through three pillars of collective action — renewable energy, nature conservation, and regenerative agriculture. This project protects rivers in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh through local collective action.

South Asia's rivers are not just lifelines; they are the cradles of diverse cultures and home to rich biodiversity. However, these vital waterways are facing a grave threat. Hydropower development, pushed in the name of renewable energy goals, is wreaking havoc on these fragile ecosystems, with plans for large dams that could have catastrophic impacts.

Moreover, challenges like inland water navigation, interlinking of rivers, and heavy pollution further exacerbate the dire situation. South Asia's rivers urgently need stronger protections.

International Rivers works with women from the Himba Community in Namibia to develop consultation protocols. Image credit: Courtesy of International Rivers

Women at the forefront of river conservation

In river-dwelling communities across South Asia, women often bear the responsibility of water usage and traditionally hold the role of river stewards. Paradoxically, they are marginalized when it comes to decision-making about how these rivers are managed and developed.

International Rivers, a renowned organization working in this region for over a decade, recognizes the critical role of women in river protection and is determined to change the status quo.

Partnering with the Women's Earth Alliance (WEA), they have launched the Women and Rivers Accelerator to address gender equity and empower local women to conserve the rivers of India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

Giving tools to safeguard the environment

The South Asia Accelerator is a groundbreaking program that catalyzes change, providing participants with sustained support, coaching, and mentorship. By nurturing their skills and connecting them to a vast global network of environmental leaders, the accelerator enhances local women's capacity to carry out initiatives that contribute to their rivers' continued protection and restoration.

Partnering with WEA, International Rivers has harnessed its expertise in dam-fighting, energy and water policy, climate change, international financial institutions, and permanent river protections. This collaboration strengthens the program's impact, bridging the gap between women's rights and environmental advocacy.

Participant speaks on relationship between women's leadership and river conservation at the 2019 Women and Rivers Congress. Image credit: Courtesy of International Rivers

A journey of learning and connecting

Spanning two months and comprising five modules, the accelerator offers a comprehensive learning experience for participants. The program combines facilitated online skill-building, knowledge exchange, and mentorship with an action-oriented focus tailored to the participants' work.

It features weekly group video calls, mentor check-ins, and valuable program content delivered by experts on various topics, including project impact documentation, gender analysis tools, effective communication strategies, fundraising, coalition-building, environmental technologies, leadership development, and resiliency practices.

One of the program's highlights is the Virtual "Collaboratory," a skill and knowledge-sharing conference that brings together participants from diverse backgrounds. This collaborative platform fosters innovation, cross-pollination of ideas, and the exchange of experiences, creating a rich tapestry of learning and growth.

Participant Mayal Lepcha of the Indigenous Lepcha community in Sikkim, India, at Women and Rivers Congress in 2019. Image credit: Courtesy of International Rivers

From empowerment to leadership

The impact of the South Asia Accelerator extends far beyond the program itself. Through the alumni network, the project leverages the knowledge and experience gained by participants to multiply its impact.

Graduates of the program become trainers and leaders, sharing their expertise and driving change in their communities. This project lays the foundation for scaling the pilot to include accelerators in other regions where International Rivers operates, amplifying its impact and bringing about a global movement for river protection.

Panel at the 2019 Women and Rivers Congress in Nepal. Photo credit: Courtesy of International Rivers

Rooted in local knowledge

Indigenous and local communities have traditional wisdom about river protection and sustainable forest use. Recognizing their custodial role, International Rivers champions their inclusion, ensuring their active participation in decision-making.

By integrating the Rights of Rivers strategy, International Rivers acknowledges the importance of legal frameworks in river protection. They have developed a Community Guide to the Rights of Rivers, translated into multiple languages. It serves as a foundation for training participants to advocate for change using existing laws and precedents.

Join the movement to defend South Asia's rivers

South Asia's rivers are at a critical juncture, and the world cannot afford to stand idly by. Support for this project protects crucial waterways and empowers women to safeguard river ecosystems, paving the way for a more sustainable and resilient future in the face of the climate crisis.

Secure payment. USD donations tax-deductible.

Provide a major gift

Your contribution will help ensure the long term success of this important project. Gifts can be made as a tribute to a friend or family member and are tax-deductible for U.S. residents. Please contact us!