Case Study 1.3
A field visit to Udawattakele Forest Reserve for school kids, teachers, and parents.    

When you go to the community, you get a very real feel for climate change impacts. Long standing and deep rooted agricultural practices are increasingly challenged by the consequences of climate change. There is a great need to teach local communities on overcoming these challenges. British Council’s Climate Challenge Grant supported the Team Biogenius to find out these challenges and look for solutions involving various stakeholder groups. 

Nipunika Nethsarani, a third-year Coastal and Marine Resource Management student said: “The goal was to examine agricultural challenges faced by communities in Sirimalwatta, Kandy. Due to adverse effects of climate change, it was important to provide solutions for climate-related community issues.

“During monsoons, the Mahaweli river overflows onto paddy fields and inundates large tracts of agricultural farms with flood water. Furthermore, rainy season timings have seen a shift due to climate change, making it difficult to know when exactly the periods of rain start and end,” said Nipunika.

Ground research

She surveyed 100 people to understand agricultural trends in the area and the impact climate change was having on local farming practices. The project then raised awareness under the theme "Exploring Climate Change and Agricultural Practices in the Sirimalwatta Region." Farmers attending the session were given seeds and plants to promote sustainable growing and were encouraged to vary and rotate crops. Thus, minimizing monsoonal effects.

“The plants and seeds we distributed were well-suited to the landscape and was recommended by the Gannoruwa Agricultural Institute, said Nipunika.

The project also worked to reach younger demographics and raise awareness about climate change, where an art competition and climate talk was organized for children between the ages of 4-16 years. The students found the climate talk useful, especially as it covered essential topics such as understanding climate change, its significance, and actions to mitigate its effects.

The project conducted a biodiversity and climate change workshop on the Udawattakele Forest Reserve, with support from numerous environmental stakeholders. One hundred students, parents and teachers participated. The activity even raised farmer awareness on composting.

Getting young people involved

Students will be involved in more awareness sessions and a youth camp focused on climate change is on the cards. A stakeholder conversation on climate change will be organised to explore collaborative approaches to address climate change challenges among agricultural communities.

“Getting the grant for the project felt like winning a lottery in many ways. I got an opportunity to carry out a sizeable project and engage firsthand with local communities, said Nipunika, who extended her appreciation to local communities in the area as well as to the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society and British Council for support and advice.

Case Study 1.2
Nipunika conducting the field survey in Sirimalwatta area.
Case Study 1.1
Children’s art competition in progress.