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Leaders for a Better Tomorrow – Women driving climate change adaptation in Bundelkhand - India

A reality show broadcast on community radio has spurred rural Indians toward more environmentally sustainable living. “Leaders for a Better Tomorrow” challenged villagers in central India to conserve and restore their local environment, then trained contest winners to act as agents of change in their villages. This project has promoted a positive change in entire communities, while empowering youth and women.

Fast facts:

  • First project of its kind: competition in form of rural reality show
  • 100,000 rural people in central India reached
  • 100 villages participated
  • 25 contest winners assisted 885 households implement green practices

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The problem


The Bundelkhand region in central India is among the country’s most climate-sensitive areas, with degraded forests and rapidly shrinking surface water resources. Erratic rainfall and an increasing potential for drought is threatening local populations’ food, freshwater, and ability to survive. Most villages are already suffering from water shortages.

The solution

Leaders for a Better Tomorrow challenged communities in the Bundelkhand region to develop sustainable practices that would help them adapt to climate change, such as rainwater harvesting, agroforestry, kitchen gardening, and organic farming. Citizen journalists reported on the 186 groups that participated, which also received technical support in their efforts. A reality show was produced out of this coverage, and then broadcast to rural people via community radio. The 25 winners selected from the competition became climate change agents, and were trained to motivate fellow community members to further implement sustainable practices.

Helping the planet

Adoption of sustainable practices allowed the communities to better manage natural resources like water and land. Agroforestry helps stabilize soil, and rainwater catchment allows water tables to better recharge – such efforts can improve soil and water quality, as well. Organic farming practices also increase soil quality, while composting recycles waste into useful fertilizer.

Helping people

Communities have been able to diversify their farming activities and increase yields, improving their food security. Women’s participation in the competition helped them build confidence and social status, allowing them breaking free from repression.

Many people who listened to the show became educated on climate change issues, and were inspired to start adopting climate-friendly practices in their own households. Better natural resource management and higher soil and water quality translate into more security during times of drought for this poor population, which depends upon its environment for survival.

Spillover effect

Competition winners trained as “change agents” continue to influence the community to take on sustainable practices, and have increased the project’s reach from 500 to 885 households total.  The innovative concept of linking education with entertainment has further potential to be replicated, also as it can be adapted to various media or address different topics.





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