Category: Research

IGCS Research Brief 01/2022 Published

Peter Volz and Christoph Woiwode conducted a study about the agro-food system of Chennai and its surrounding region in 2021 in order to see how it can be made more sustainable.
The outcome of this participatory research is published in this IGCS Research Brief 01/2022. They are hoping to continue this exciting process with an action-oriented workshop to reflect upon these recommendations and discuss with stakeholders the potential for an agroecological transformation of the Chennai region.

Featured Image on the post by Pixabay.

Landuse Area awarded a new three-year project in Sustainability Education

Dr. Christoph Woiwode, RWTH Aachen University and IGCS Visiting Faculty at IIT Madras, together with Bangalore-based non-profit organisation Project DEFY and the German-based association Initiative für Neue Bildung e.V. were awarded a three-year grant by the Hans Hermann Voss-Stiftung to create a “Nook” self-designed learning centre near Chennai. By building on IGCS’s Periurban Initiative and the ongoing Peri-Cene Project about Chennai’s periurbanization processes, the Chennai Nook incorporates an action research component to integrate sustainability with the learning process and learners-led projects such as community gardening, or repair and recycling. Read more here.

The following images are illustrations of the workings of the previous Nook location:

The Chennai Nook Project – Summary

IGCS teamed up in a new collaborative project with Bangalore-based non-profit organisation Project DEFY and the German-based association Initiative für Neue Bildung e.V. to create a “Nook” self-designed learning centre near Chennai. Nooks are ‘schools without teachers’ equipped with tools, technology, electronics, recycled materials and a broad variety of resources that learners can utilise to design and pursue their own learning journeys, based on individual needs and interests.

The Chennai Nook will be located in Katchipedu, a periurban village 40 km west of Chennai, adjacent to the popular Rajiv Gandhi Memorial Site. Due to a lack of access to quality education and a spiral of marginalisation and social stigmatisation that the local population faces, a large part of the Katchipedu residents rely on odd jobs or exploitative day labour. For the village youth, in particular, prospects are very limited. This leads to ever-more social conflicts and issues. The Nook project, initially funded by Hans Hermann Voss-Stiftung over a three-year period to commence in January 2022, sets out to change this scenario. The partners envision the Nook to become a catalyst for change and provide Katchipedu’s youth with the platform, resources, skills and knowledge they need to take charge of their own lives. It will play a pivotal role in supporting and nurturing the ambitions of the youth and thereby contribute to a more sustainable transformation of the Katchipedu community at large. By building on IGCS’s Periurban Initiative and the ongoing Peri-Cene Project about Chennai’s periurbanization processes, the Chennai Nook incorporates an action research component to integrate sustainability with the learning process and learners-led projects such as community gardening, or repair and recycling.

Contact: Dr. Christoph Woiwode, woiwode@igcs-chennai.org

IGCS Postdoc Dr. Christoph Woiwode organizes Covid-19 Emergency Relief in Chennai

We are currently facing unprecedented suffering, pain, and loss in many parts of India across innumerable hospitals and in people’s homes. What goes rather unnoticed at the moment is the impact on food and nutrition, especially for the deprived communities such as the shelterless, slum dwellers, migrant workers, and, of course, children. This is even aggravated when families have lost their main breadwinner.

IGCS Postdoc Dr. Christoph Woiwode has initiated an emergency relief for such communities in Chennai and other parts of India. This is an initiative leveraging personal contacts through well-established connections to several organizations on the ground to ensure money is used sensibly and for its intended purpose.

Dr. Woiwode has been in touch with the Information and Research Centre for Deprived Urban Communities (IRCDUC), a local organization in Chennai, for the past two years which works for the rights of the slum, squatter, and shelterless people. This is an NGO that is rooted in the slums and highly committed. Last year he also initiated an in-kind collection of toys, books, stationery, and clothes for children of a huge slum resettlement housing complex near his home.

Commenting on his initiative, Dr. Woiwode says: ” The second wave in India is even more devastating for the poor who have not been able to recover from last year’s impacts. Only recently I again received a call for donations from them.” (images below)

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Dr. Woiwode is now organizing an international call for support to these and other deprived people such as migrants, shelterless, and slum dwellers in Chennai.

“At this stage, we intend to provide immediate emergency relief (food and other daily needs). I will be personally involved in the execution and implementation of the emergency activities with IRCDUC to ensure funds reach the intended beneficiaries,” he says.

Beyond this, his team is planning two additional, more mid-term activities. First, to use the donations to set up a Livelihoods Relief Fund to provide seed funding for small self-employed enterprises to get back into business whenever possible, or to establish a new income-generating activity. Second, develop a mid-term food strategy. He says, “Food insecurity, shortages, and malnutrition have dramatically increased as people lost their already precarious, informal, employment. This is directed to move from immediate relief to mid-/long-term food security.”

If you wish to support the cause through financial donations please refer to the bank details below. This is a personal call and not made via a large organization. Hence donations are based on trust and can be done to Dr. Christoph Woiwode’s personal accounts. To be updated and informed about the ongoing work after making donations, you can kindly drop an email to woiwode@igcs-chennai.org.

Bank Details:

Please state purpose: CHENNAI COVID-19 RELIEF

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(Note: German and EU tax law does generally not allow for tax reclamation of donations to organizations in countries like the USA, Canada, and African, Latin American and Asian countries)

For international, secure transactions especially from outside the EU or from EU countries directly into the Indian account, it is recommend using www.wise.com

Read more on Dr. Woiwode’s work published by Indien Aktuell

Call for Abstracts – NatRiskChange conference – Co-PREPARE participation

Research Training Group NatRiskChange at the University of Potsdam is organizing a second International Conference on Natural Hazards and Risks in a Changing World 5-6 October 2021.

https://www.uni-potsdam.de/en/natriskchange/activities/second-international-natriskchange-conference-2021

Sharing the same goal COPREAPRE as one of the partners encourages the contribution and participation of the IIT Roorkee and the COPRPEPARE team. We would be happy to financially support the participation of research students, PhDs, postdocs, and faculty in a limited capacity.

Abstract submission deadline is 15 May 2021.

#IndoGermanForum

Join us on March 16 – 17 at the #IndoGermanForum on ‘Cities and Climate’ organised by DWIH New Delhi. By 2050, urban population will increase by 2 billion people and about 68% of the world population will be living in cities. 8 panel sessions present how research can promote #sustainable urbanisation and minimise the impact of cities on #climatechange. Next to that, you can visit the virtual fair and network with a number of international institutions and stakeholders.

Register: https://lnkd.in/dYY-DXN

https://www.dwih-newdelhi.org/en/event/indo-german-forum-cities-and-climate/

Take a glimpse into waste management projects of IGCS fellows!

Graduate student Daniela and PhD student Katleen conducted research projects on the topic of waste management in India with support of IGCS. Of special interest were studies on the amount and composition of waste, as well as its recycling potential in Chennai and on Neil Island. Sadly, both of them had to end their exchange early due to the Corona virus. Nevertheless, they have achieved a lot during this time and let us take part in their journey, research interest and the implications the virus has on their projects!

Katleen, Berlin School of Economics and Law

Project: Baseline study on solid waste management generation and characterisation on Shaheed Dweep

At the IGCS Winter School in Chennai about Sustainable Waste Management in February 2019, I got inspired to continue research on waste issues as an IGCS research scholar. I was back at IIT Madras in October 2019 to start my research project under the guidance of Prof. Ligy Philip from the Civil Engineering Department at IIT Madras. Two months later I started my field work on the Andaman islands.

Driving forces for my research were

  1. acquiring knowledge on the amount of waste being produced by whom and what on the islands and
  2. identifying recycling potential to lessen the burden of the waste’s impact on the islands.

Neil Island, now called Shaheed Dweep, in the South Andamans was research area. The island is dominated by the tourism industry now. The relation about waste generation from local vs. tourist activities is an important indicator about the impact of tourism on small islands.

I chose to conduct a baseline study on Shaheed Dweep for my research project. Realizing that there are no actual figures about waste generation on the island, data collection on the island’s waste generation and the characterization of waste became an important target of my research project. Streamlining the island’s waste becomes a necessity in order to identify recyclable materials which can be transported out of the island. A resource recovery process could take place in Port Blair or on mainland India. The big advantage would be to reducing the burden on the open dumping yard on the Shaheed Dweep, which is currently the prevailing method of waste disposal.

Having said this, the restrictions following the COVID-19 crisis hit me during my second sampling week in March which I conducted with many volunteers to measure and sort the waste from the local market. Tourists were restrained from traveling to the Andamans, water sport activities like diving had to stop and suddenly the petrol station closed overnight. The waste collector changed their collection plans or even stopped collecting. End of story: I was escorted from the Andamans on the following Monday and my second sampling week unfinished. I was leaving the islands in confusion and a state of shock.

What happened next? I stayed in Chennai to continue analyzing my data. My sampling of household data was completed successfully. The waste rate per capita per day has been calculated for the sampling group of merely 0,18 kg/per person/day. Now extrapolating it to the total island inhabitants counting 3.040 people (Gram Panchayat Shaheed Dweep, 2019), the daily waste generation of all registered islanders would be at approximately 550 kg/day. This is a very small share (29%), given the estimation of about 1,9 metric tons per day of mixed waste by the Andaman Public Work Department in 2015. When looking at the composition of waste it reflects the Indian high standard of wet waste or compostable share (65%), while the remaining waste is coming as plastics (11,2%), glass (6,8%), paper (6,6,%), textiles (5,2%), metal (2,1%), hazardous waste (1,7%), other/rubber (1%) and e-waste (0,3%). My goal is now to close the data gap and get the respective figures for the market, the hotels and beach areas, which are the remaining major sources of waste streams on Shaheed Dweep.

Besides that, I enjoyed my time on the island with a diverse range of activities related to a sustainable waste management approach and data collection. Together with local and visiting volunteers, we removed 3,8 tons of waste from the beaches and one private property within three months. Out of this, 36% could be sent to Port Blair to recycle glass and plastic bottles. Furthermore, I conducted a workshops with school children about waste categorization, a waste management stall for the local island festival, a waste mural piece from plastic caps and many beach clean ups.

Heading off to the Andamans with the ferry was not only a dream come true but also an adventure in itself. I wish to return later this year to continue what I had to leave suddenly overnight on Shaheed Dweep.

Source: Katleen Schneider

Daniela Strittmatter, University of Stuttgart

Research Project: Plastic waste management in coastal areas

Plastic is known as a material with a huge range of applications in nowadays life. Our economy wouldn’t be the same without this reliable and cheap material. But what happens with the increasing amount of plastic material after its life spam…?

That was the question that came to my mind many times within the last years and during my master studies. So I decided to deal with this fascinating topic in my master’s thesis. The main aim of my thesis was to examine, how to improve the plastic waste management system in beach areas of Chennai. I conducted my research together with Professor Dr. Ligy Philip from the Civil Engineering Department at IIT Madras in Chennai and Professor Dr. Martin Kranert from the University of Stuttgart.

The research area of my research project is Chennai, a city with around 8,7 million inhabitants in India’s southeast. Similar to many other cities, Chennai is facing increasing amounts of waste, generated by society and companies. Due to an insufficient waste management infrastructure and lacking numbers of waste treatment plants, around 94% of the waste mixture is either deposited on open dumpsites without proper treatment or thrown away illegally. Uncollected waste that reaches coastal areas is likely to enter the sea, leading to negative long-term effects on a sensitive ecosystem. This is especially of increasing concern as the amount of plastic debris in underwater environments continues to accumulate with expected long-term effects on animal and human well-being.

As there is a lack of literature about the current waste composition at beaches in Chennai, I started my research with a status-quo waste analysis at different beach areas. This was an important step in order to gain a first impression. The waste analysis included both the amount and composition of waste, with a focus on plastic. Especially the questions “What is the amount of plastic waste that can be recycled?” and “Which areas are prone for plastic accumulation and why?” were of high interest for me. Luckily, many helpful hands at IIT Madras helped me with my sampling collection as I found many kilograms of waste per sampling site.

One main challenge was the hot and humid weather in Chennai, especially during noon at the sampling sites. With the sun burning down on my helpers and me, it was often quite exhausting to collect and transport the samples at the beach for hours. Nevertheless, I enjoyed being outside and was proud seeing the clean beach areas in the evening. Unfortunately and with a heavy heart, I flew back to Germany with a heavy heart due to the unpredictable Corona-crisis. I wasn’t able to collect further samples anymore due to the lock-down in whole of India. Nevertheless, I am glad to have finished my basis data which I’ll continue to use in an adopted way for my project now that I am back in Germany.

Besides writing my master’s thesis one exciting experience was my participation at the Winter School about “Sustainability in the Peri-scene” at IIT Madras in February 2020, organized by IGCS. The main content of the Winter School was to give the participates a well-rounded understanding of the peri-urban development in Chennai by having lectures, panel discussions, exercises and project work. Apart from the gained content knowledge the Winter School gave great opportunities to build a network with people of the same interest background and I am happy to still be in contact with many of them. Another highlight of my stay was during a beach clean-up I did on my own. Suddenly, a local person appeared, showed interest in my project work and offered to help me without any requirements. It was great to see that people are aware of the waste problem and the negative environmental effects and are willing to do something against it if they get the chance.

All in all I really enjoyed my stay in India. It’s a diverse, colourful and lively country and there are many things to discover. During my travels I enjoyed beautiful landscapes with rice paddies, white sand beaches and tea plantations. I fell in love with the tasty exotic fruits and delicious spicy dishes. Luckily friends taught me how to prepare Indian food. Especially the friendliness and curiosity of Indians made it very easy to get integrated into the Indian way of living and to feel home in Chennai soon. In order to get an impression of all facets of India, it is important to be open-minded and be ready for new experiences because India is also a country of contrasts. In some areas the effects of poverty and luxury can be seen next to each other and this can be challenging to cope with sometimes. Although it is visible that there is effort to improve the waste management situation in the cities, there is still a long way to go and solutions to be found. In order to enhance sustainable systems and thinking, international cooperation bonds like IGCS are a great way to exchange relevant knowledge and experiences between India and Germany and to bring research further for both sides. 

Hence, I am very thankful for the experiences I made during my 3,5 months stay in Chennai and would highly recommend the exchange program to interested students. I will definitely come back to visit my friends and to discover the beautiful western and northern parts of India.