As they continue to learn more about climate change, the children of Mai Root Sub-district of Trat province take action to reduce some of its impacts with a huge garbage collection effort at Kong Takian Village.
In late August 2013, Sustainable Development Foundation (SDF) began to work with children in Mai Root Sub-district to promote their role as youth ambassadors and agents of change. The focus at that stage was to give the children a thorough grounding in climate change and its impacts, and to provide them with some media training to help them communicate this information to the wider community. On 22nd – 23rd October 2013 SDF’s work with children in the sub-district was taken a stage further, teaching children from Klong Takian Village about the negative environmental impacts of garbage and arranging a huge garbage collection effort in their village.
“Poor garbage management is a huge problem for many coastal villages in Thailand. Although ineffective and infrequent garbage collection services undoubtedly play a role in some circumstances, it’s hard to deny that a lack of awareness and discipline on the part of the villagers themselves is also to blame,” explained Jonathan Shott, Project Manager and Disaster Management Consultant at SDF. “The long-term impact from accumulated garbage is significant environmental degradation. Soil and water quality are badly affected, flora and fauna begin to die off, currents are obstructed and waterways become clogged, and pests and disease begin to spread. And it’s such an eyesore – I’ve seen what should be beautifully picturesque fishing villages looking absolutely dreadful because they’re littered with garbage.”
SDF worked with around 30 very keen and energetic children from Klong Takian Village over a period of 2 days. The first day was a workshop about garbage and advocacy. The children were taught about the negative environmental impacts of garbage and introduced to the three R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle. They were then introduced to some communication tools that they could use in advocating for better garbage collection within their wider community. The second day involved a huge garbage collection effort in their own village, focused around the canal that runs through the center of the village. The children were assisted by some of the adults in the village, officers from the local Mangrove Resource Development Station, and even several border scouts from the Royal Thai Army.
A special thank you goes to SDF’s four interns from the University of California, who are currently studying at Thammasat University. They developed all the training materials and prepared all the activities for the garbage workshop, and they spent a long hot afternoon under the tropical sun helping the children to collect garbage from the muddy canal banks.
“Now more than ever the children should continue collecting garbage in their village, and keep the momentum going in the hope that others will join in their sustainable activities. On a personal note, after beginning our canal clean-up with the children, I saw that adults had started to participate as well. The children are like ambassadors, able to communicate effectively with their elders,” said Jose Zamora, intern from the University of California, Santa Barbara. “I highly respect the work ideals that SDF uses in the field, building bonds and friendships, and offering suggestions to the villagers whilst respecting their ethics and culture. The bonds I built with the team as well as the villagers are the best experience I’ve had since arriving in Thailand.”