The absence of access to good healthcare and sanitation facilities in the remote villages of Garo Hills, has been a concern for years now. As a result, there have been instances of serious health issues in the area. Few of the healthcare centres in the area were also primarily not well equipped. After equipping Siju and Baghmara (in South Garo Hills) health centres with modern healthcare equipment, in last year, Wildlife Trust of India and The Body Shop India have further extended their support to upgrade the Asanang Health Centre (in West Garo Hills) by construction of public sanitation facilities as a way of recognizing the efforts of the Garo Community who have been at the forefront of conservation in the region. The Inaugural Ceremony of the facility was organized at Asanang Public Health Centre in West Garo Hills, Meghalaya on 26th February 2019.Dignitaries included representatives from the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC), Health Department, The Body Shop India, Wildlife Trust of India and local Garo community members.
Chief Guest at the programme, Ms Shelly C.H. Momin, M.C.S. Block Development Officer, Rongram, C&RD Block, West Garo Hills said, “I am happy to see this beautiful convergence of Government, NGO and Corporate coming together for a noble initiative to provide support to the community of Garo Hills”. Dr Marwin M. Sangma, District Medical and Health Officer, West Garo Hills, said “We are thankful to WTI and The Body Shop India to come forward with this support for the Public Health Centre and we hope together we can make a difference for nature and environment.”
Commenting on the initiative at the event, Ms. Shriti Malhotra, CEO, The Body Shop India said,“We carry forward our founder Anita Roddick’s legacy of giving back to society especially to the local environment and communities. In this area, unlike any other part of the country, the forest is owned by the communities and the onus of preserving it and using the resources well lies with the communities. We are pleased to inaugurate these facilities here today believing that uplifting health and sanitation will prove effective in providing good health to the locals as well as it will provide a platform for the doctors who are willing to come to these remote places to dedicate their service to the people. It also gives us immense pleasure to be associated with WTI for this project and they have indeed helped us bring this initiative to life.
Mr BalsrengSangma, Field Officer-Garo Project, WTI mentioned, “Conservation has always been in the blood of the Garo community and we are just doing our bit to build up on that.
Ms Upasana Ganguly-Wild Lands Programme at WTI added, “WTI’s mission of protecting wildlife with local communities and governments have fit in very nicely with the mission of Biobridges Programme of The Body Shop and we hope to continue these efforts in Garo Hills together to protect more forest lands.”
TheBody Shop, together with Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) is helping to re-wild the endangered habitat in Garo Hills, Meghalaya, empowering communities and protecting endangered Elephant population, by building a natural corridor of landscape for free passage and conducive environment for their conservation. This 12 months activation of social commitment was initiated in August 2018 by The Body Shop India. During this period, customers of The Body Shop were made aware of the critical need for conservation and were allowed to contribute towards this cause.
The inaugural ceremony was attended by over 70 people from the region and concluded with the group inaugurating the sanitation facility and declaring it open for public use.
WTI along with the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council and State Forest Department, with the support from World Land Trust (WLT) has been working with the communities to achieve its aim to conserve and restore the Green Spine with a unique, community based conservation model to secure the rich biodiversity, where the community sets aside their village land voluntarily as ‘Village Reserve Forest (VRF)’, through easements or bilateral-sharing models. The communities have strongly owned the conservation efforts and together with the local government have by far secured more than 2800 hectares of forest as 17 VRFs. The support from The Body Shop India and WLT will go a long way in achieving the aim of securing approximately 4500 hectares of Canopies, Corridors and Catchments of Garo Green Spine for enhancing the survival prospects of elephants, gibbons, chocolate mahseer and other key wildlife indicators by 2025.