The Finland Chamber of Commerce in India (FINCHAM India), in association with Centre for Urban and Regional Excellence (CURE), a not-for-profit development organization that works with urban, informal and low-income communities, launched Project ‘Resilient Schools’ at EDMC Primary School, New Ashok Nagar, Shahdara South, Delhi today. The project was inaugurated by Ambassador of Finland in India, H.E. Ritva Koukku-Ronde, in the presence of Dr. Seema Sharma, DD Education, EDMC, Mrs. Alka Sharma, Addl. Commissioner, EDMC, Dr. Renu Khosla, Director, CURE, members of FINCHAM and representatives from the Finnish companies in India.
Project ‘Resilient Schools’, a joint CSR initiative by the Finnish companies in India, aims to create water resilient schools and neighbourhood communities. This will be achieved by creating rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge systems, and also engaging with the school children and enhancing their perspective on environment, sustainability and other related issues. The program would also strive to increase awareness and build capacities of the teachers, sanitation staff and parents for sustainable outcomes.
Elaborating on the partnership, H.E. Ritva Koukku-Ronde, Ambassador of Finland in India said, “This project is a very important example of cooperation between India and Finland in the field of Corporate Social Responsibility between the Finland Chamber of Commerce in India and CURE India (Centre for Urban and Regional Excellence). The Finnish business community has already shown to be very committed to integrate corporate responsibility into their businesses. With the same intent Project Resilient Schools has been identified, which will collectively contribute towards water conservation and will demonstrate tangible and measurable impact.”
During the inauguration Mrs. Alka Sharma, Addl. Commissioner, EDMC shared, “A healthy and sustainable environment is critically important to our global society, our economy, our business and our people. In India, the quality of drinking water available to the urban population that live in slums and the urban poor families is mostly unsafe leading to water borne diseases. We are delighted to welcome such initiatives that support the transformation of India’s cities from water stressed to resilient in terms of safe drinking water.”
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Neeraj Sharma, Chairperson, FINCHAM and Managing Director & President, Wärtsilä Indiasaid, “The challenge of climate change, increasing urbanisation and their impending impact on the quality of water and depleting water tables across Indian cities, including the nation’s capital, is well-known. Together with CURE India, our implementation partner, FINCHAM members are hopeful of making a small, but measurable impact towards building the water resilience of the city. Our initiative towards conserving and replenishing this important resource is being initiated with three schools and aims to engage more schools and communities as we go along.”
Commenting on the occasion, Mr. Amit Gossain, Vice-Chairperson, FINCHAM and Managing Director, KONE Elevator Indiasaid, “We are extremely excited to kick-start this project with CURE India, which will improve water resilience. Niti Aayog and the World Bank have emphasized the water crisis facing the nation’s capital city. As per studies, by this year, 21 major cities, including Delhi, is expected to reach zero groundwater levels, affecting access for 100 million people. Through our partnership with CURE, we are committed to taking concrete steps towards improving water conversation, recycling wastewater and minimizing waste generation.”
Dr. Renu Khosla, Director – Centre for Urban and Regional Excellence said, “Schools are not just buildings. These are places where children learn. Children learn better when they are in a positive learning environment, where they can construct new knowledge from the ‘content’ of their environment – by what they can see, what they can touch, what they can smell, or hear. Project Resilient Schools is aimed at creating access to reliable and safe water in schools, for now and in the future. Using an ecosystem approach, it shall set up systems for rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharging, treating, recycling and reusing wastewater, improving sanitation, and reclaiming and greening blighted spaces. The purpose is to curate knowledge that is useful at school and for improving communities – making for a resilient future.”
CURE is currently working with six primary schools managed by the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) on water and sanitation infrastructure and behaviour change communication. The programs address water management, sanitation, health and hygiene, ecological restoration, renewable energy and creating environmental awareness.