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Students fight climate change in India

Rajesh Kumar Chaudhary is only too aware of the dangers climate change poses, the 17-year-old has already experienced heat waves, floods and a 35-second earthquake. 

Students fight climate change in India

But for many teenagers just like him, it is the memories of the 2008 Bihar floods that remain as stark as ever.

Heavy monsoon rains and the worst flooding in 50 years ravaged communities’ right across the state.  Homes were destroyed and entire villages submerged. Many families were forced into makeshift camps - their homes and belongings lost in the flood and mud.

Rajesh remembers seeing his neighbour cut adrift in the murky floodwaters, holding tightly to a plastic drum to keep afloat, only later to be rescued from the snake riddled waters.

He recalls too the sight of people throwing themselves into dangerous waters to retrieve food parcels dropped from the air by army helicopters.


As ever, it was the poorest that were hardest hit. Dalit and tribal communities, both of whom face discrimination and exclusion because of their place in society, bore the brunt.

Thanks to funding from the UK Government’s Programme Partnership Arrangement, Christian Aid partner Churches Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) is supporting some of the most marginalised communities in India, affected by the impact of increasingly extreme and unpredictable weather.

Rajesh continued, ‘CASA explained how we can work together for the benefit of everyone. Before people were so 'individualistic'. We were only concerned with saving ourselves only.’

Thanks to CASA, people have learnt about climate change, the importance of being prepared and how to respond in an emergency.

It is often a simple case of having a plan, so residents knows the safest and quickest routes to designated evacuation shelters.  


And it’s here that the next generation are playing their part. A Student Environmental Force established by CASA and consisting of local youth groups is helping raise awareness of the impact of climate change and what people can do in response. 

Rajesh is one of some four hundred students who took part in a slogan competition run by local schools. The winning entries are painted on the sides of buildings in public spaces.

Life in a disaster prone area is anxious and uncertain, yet this charismatic and confident teenager is keen to make a difference.

 ‘If we act together as a student community, many things can be protected and saved,’ says Rajesh.  

Many of the students have already taken on the challenge of improving their own environment and are making a difference in their communities.  Rajesh has bought and planted multiple fruit trees in the grounds of his home.

‘The whole world is talking about climate change. The main culprits are people, so it is only people who can fix it.’

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