Extreme poverty underscores the Indian region of Ladakh, located in the Himalayas. Above all, the region lacks proper housing, energy and work opportunities. The financial support that tourism offers pales in comparison to the rubbish tourists leave behind.
We are helping the people of Ladakh with a long-term perspective. After equipping 20 families with solar-stoves, we built flood-resistant houses and now implement effective waste disposal measures.
The stunning beauty of the mountains in Ladakh is not untouched. Civilisation, summiteers and other guests leave their traces in high altitudes and at the edges of settlements, creating mountains of waste among mountains of stone. After having equipped people with solar cookers and reconstructing houses after the region was devastated by floods, the organisation LEDeG now pushes forward the waste topic, initiating a program to reduce and manage waste.
Solid waste is a growing concern in Ladakh. With civilisation and alpine tourism came not only development and wealth but also waste to the Himalayas, growing from piles to mountains. The visitors bring lots of waste with them such as trekking and hiking equipment, packaging of western products and other things made out of plastic. They also introduced the need for formerly foreign items like drinks in bottles and tins, chocolate bars and packaged food.
Tin waste is collected by individual business people but plastic waste is not collected efficiently and is separated and reused by anybody—although the municipal committees are doing their bit to keep the towns clean on a daily basis. The current system of disposal still relies on landfill areas as well as open burning and pollutes air and ground. Waste management and reduction is one of the most serious issues facing the people of Ladakh in the future.
LEDeG will start a full year campaign on solid waste management in the towns Leh and Kargil and some tourist spots. They plan to use all means of education and information so that the issue is taken seriously at all levels. Activities regarding waste reduction, reuse and recycling will be initiated.
The project team wants to educate people about the hazards associated with improper disposal and also about the need to separate wastes in proper categories. Seminars and other events will take place. Also planned are cleaning drives in collaboration with other organisations.
LEDeG, the organisation Ladakh Ecological Development Group (LEDeG) is a Non-Governmental Organisation with the goal to promote the ecological and sustainable development of Ladakh, which harmonises with and builds on the traditional culture. Since its formation in the year 1983, Ladakh Ecological Development Group (LEDeG), Leh, has been striving to address the environmental, economic and cultural issues affecting the communities residing in the structurally disadvantaged areas of Ladakh.
The head office of LEDeG is in Karzoo, Leh. The organisation also has branches in Kargil and Zanskar which conduct projects specific for those regions. The head-office has a well-equipped library, an exhibition hall, conference hall and a craft shop at the Karzoo Centre in Leh. Each year, the organisation has several national and international volunteers who get involved in various ongoing projects in Leh satisfying the organisation's need for staff.
LEDeG also has a demonstration campus (where all of its projects are put into operation), approximately two kilometres from the head office. The demonstration campus has a fully equipped workshop, store-house, agriculture-testing centre, a plantation of apricot trees, a greenhouse where vegetables are grown in the summer, a solar passive Trombe-technology hostel and guest house for trainees and guests. It relies only on solar energy for electricity and water heating. The group runs a Rural Building Centre near Choglamsar, on the outskirts of Leh.
Helena Norberg-Hodge, winner of the Right Livelihood Award and co-founder of LEDeG: "Throughout the world today there is a growing awareness of the failings of the Western model of development and a corresponding desire to look for more human-scale, ecological ways of living. If Ladakh now succeeds in creating for itself a future which retains the foundations of its traditional past, it will be an inspiring example of how all the various elements of an ecological future fit together."
Ladakh Ecological Development Group Karzoo, Leh - Ladakh 194101 J&K State (INDIA) Website:http://reset.to/profiles/resetto/themes/bw/images/smallsprite.png); background-position: 0px -1000px; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat; " target="_blank" title="www.ledeg.org">www.ledeg.org