December 1st 2001, Tunas Hijau Club awarded two Surabaya’s youngster as the winner in Environmental Essay Competition entitled “If I were an Environmental Minister”. The competition were followed by hundreds children from twelve countries such as Australia, Bangladesh, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philipine, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine. They are Nastiti Puspitosari, fifth year Klampis Ngasem I Primary School, as the second winner for primary school categories and Liong Pascariana Danaga, third year Ciputra Secondary School, as the first winner for secondary school categories.
Nastiti wrote Air Pollution which caused by rubbish from final disposal land site in her essay “Surabaya in My Dream”. “It is not only the rotten smell but there are too many flies also,” said Nastiti.
She compared the condition around her house with two years ago before. “Though my house is two km far from the final disposal land site, but I can smell the trash,” said Nastiti. The first winner for primary school categories is Samikha Khan from Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, Liong had written the minimum awareness of community on their environment. “There are a lot of people whose litter on wrong place,” said her. She is sad, because most of them are adult people. She said,” Education and environmental campaign can eliminate this bad attitude. Such as integrate it to the subject of the school. It more effective than makes environmental education as independent subject”.
“IF I WERE MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT”
CLEAN UP THE WORLD 2001
- World today is facing a great environmental crisis. Our modern society based on scientific progress of the 20th century has pushed our planet earth almost to the limit. We are observing fast changing weather conditions like excessive rain or heat or cold in many parts of the world. Moreover, the cycle of seasons has also been affected in a great way. Again, ozone lair in the atmosphere has gone up significantly which has exposed the world to many known and unknown dangers in the near future. Even pure and safe drinking water supply is fast becoming an issue. Climatic change has forced natural balance-ecological or otherwise-to deteriorate further.
- Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world. Our per capita income is lowest in the world. Education rate is also not high. Above factors have contributed to our own form of environment pollution and crisis. In recent times we have seen cyclone, flood, increase in temperature, excessive rain, bitter winter, river erosion, water–ground water-pollution etc. Air pollution in our cities especially in Dhaka is at the top of the world range. Our forests are depleting fast because of our household and agricultural pressure. Urbanization is eating into our agricultural land and even whatever hilly places we have. Entire river and ground water system has become almost unusable. We are gradually heading towards an environmental disaster.
BUT WE CANNOT ALLOW IT TO CONTINUE LIKE THAT. TIME IS RUNNING OUT!!!
We need considered and coordinated approach of the nation as a WHOLE!
- Environment – not an isolated area of focus
One very important aspect of environment is our attitude towards our surroundings. We need to have a deep understanding of composition of our environment.
Environment embraces everything–living and non-living–surrounding us including ourselves, the human being. Beginning with sky (twinkling stars) and our Sun and Moon it goes into the gaseous atmosphere (commonly known as air) then the hard land–plain and mountainous-also the lush green fields and forest not to forget the living things on land. Not enough, environment also includes water and the flowing systems i.e. springs, rivers, oceans and all living things in the water. The beautiful earth of ours is nothing but a combined face of everything.
Having so defined, we need to have a clear understanding of the relationship between various systems and organisms of the environment as whole. It is extremely important that we do not disturb anyway this tricky and sensitive balance that holds our earth together. We have to focus on gathering knowledge and also finding ways to protect the environment. Our focus should be on a balanced growth of the society, which is absolutely environment friendly. Our economic growth for improvement of quality of life is not and should not be anything away from the natural system we inherited since the beginning of the civilization. Through mindless and careless industrialization and urbanization we have actually endangered our own existence. So, let us re–look at our needs and need of the environment also.
- Poverty – a curse
We know the level of poverty in our society. 60 % of the population lives below the poverty line. They can’t afford two meals a day most of the time. Living in a cycle of insecurity of earning the priority is to live anyway and whatever way. Basic needs of life like food, shelter, clothing and education are beyond their reach. So, obviously very low understanding of environment, if at all. But, this is not poor peoples fault. It is a total failure of the social, political and economic system as a whole.
- Economic progress: a goal not fulfilled
Bangladesh went for socialist form of economic model at the beginning. But, it faltered for various reasons and finally, it went for free capitalist form of economy. It is a signatory to GATT treaty. All these experimentation along with bureaucratic inertia, corruption, social anarchy, intolerant political divide, deteriorating law and order situation, lack of political leadership and national consensus have failed the nation in its journey ahead. We failed to take off as yet and still dependent upon foreign aid/loans. Our democracy is only beginning to crystallize.
- Planning: a far cry
We are yet to shape up a long term planning approach for the economy and society. Political leadership failed to develop a consensus on development priorities for the nation. An aid dependent economy is also well dictated by development partners (Donors) at time not related to local needs. We also see a total non-participation or lack of reflection of people’s views in planning matters.
- · Environment: consciousness
We have a separate Environment Ministry and few related laws are there. But, we have failed to generate a total social understanding of this. We are still in a learning phase. We have a number of NGOs who are working at the grass root level ranging from poverty eradication to tree plantation and economic use of environment. These are pockets of uncoordinated efforts, which need a proper and big push.
- Environment: what is needed?
Above perspective requires a thoughtful planning and policy approach with well-defined action plans backed up by resource allocation.
- Need assessment: assessment of total social, economic and environmental needs
- Priority setting: identification of priority areas with a focus on poverty alleviation and mass education
- Integration with national planning needs and development of action programs based on resource allocation
- A coordinated Environment Policy: with scope for NGO participation, broad based training, small but viable projects for the poor, mass awareness programs and stricter laws for violators
- Environment: what is needed? …
- Arrangement for pollution free industries (through strict norm/rules) and vehicles
- Limiting urbanization through rural employment generation
- Exchange of knowledge between counties and societies and development of regional programs
- Limiting use of chemicals in agriculture and other areas
- Ensuring pure drinking water
- River training and dredging and keeping ecological balance. Pollution free oceans
- Use of mass media and peoples participation
In conclusion, we shall not lose our focus on environment, which is so vital for the world and us.
WORLD must unite and stand for every living beings right to live in the given natural ENVIRONMENT.
Name: SAMIHA KHAN
Date of birth: 5th September 1989
Address: C/o B H Khan, Reckitt Benckiser (Bangladesh) Limited
58 / 59 Nasirabad I/A, Chittagong, Bangladesh
Name of school: BMS Girls High School & College, Dampara, Kotwali, Chittagong, Bangladesh