With more than 55,000 employees in 44 countries taking part in this event, Corporate Responsibility Week once again highlighted the internal commitment to risk education and protection. Employees were set a global challenge: taking photos of themselves taking action to protect the environment and posting them on a dedicated platform. When they posted a photo online, this entitled them to vote for one of the projects led by CARE. This challenge enabled AXA to donate 100,000 euros to the NGO to complete the funding for two programs: one in India - which received the most votes - and another in Madagascar.
In this context, from November 6th to 9th, four AXA employees - Stephanie Wong from AXA Hong Kong, Xavier Prigent from AXA Global Direct France, Yolande Moukoko from AXA Cameroun, and Christina Aouad from AXA Middle East -visited a CARE project in the region of Chhattisgarh in India along with CARE France and CARE India team members.
The objective of the visit was to meet with Adivasi marginalized communities who have been supported by the AXA Group in the context of the CARE « Where the Rain Falls » - Community Based Adaptation (CBA) Program on three main areas: agriculture extension & food security; water & soil conservation; women empowerment.
This visit allowed participants to better understand CARE India's approach in improving local communities' livelihood and reinforcing their resilience to climate change. These communities, like many others in India, rely on the monsoon for their agricultural activities and climate change is definitely impacting their work. In order to maintain their food security, CARE India is providing them with simple and efficient tools (such as the 5% model and the System Rice Intensification method - SRI) to increase their awareness on sustainable agricultural processes and better manage their water resources. These tools are allowing Adivasi communities to increase their production, their revenues and thus better face Climate Change.
Water conservation: 5% model under excavation in November 2014 © Tanvi Mishra / CARE
Water conservation: same 5% model one year after, in November 2015. © Tanvi Mishra / CARE
At first, the link between Climate Change and the projects CARE is doing in India as part of the Where the Rain Falls program was not very clear to me. Now that I have seen concretely the activities implemented and heard from the beneficiaries how Climate Change is having an impact on their lives, the AXA-CARE partnership makes a lot of sense to me. I am proud to be part of the AXA Group and work with CARE on these projects.
The visit also allowed participants to meet with several local communities who are involved in the Community Based Adaptation project: the beneficiaries, members of local development committees, local coordinators in villages (mainly women who volunteer to organize projects in their community). As part of the CBA project design process, a detailed gender analysis was undertaken. Among the project's specific objectives are ones focused on: building the capacity of Adivasi women to adapt to climate-related water stress; and effective participation of women in water governance/decision-making. Women's economic empowerment is also being pursued through the reactivation of Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and formation of new groups.
On the field, I saw that the reality was very different from what I expected. I was amazed by the work CARE India is doing for the Adivasi communities in Chhattisgarh region. Instead of a pure philanthropic support, CARE is giving them the tools to us the maximum of the resources they have. In addition, it was very touching to see men encouraging women to be as empowered as them and be willing to reach gender equality. I didn't expect a woman to be the president of the village development committee for example.
Participants also observed activities allowing farmers to diversify their agricultural processes, improve their techniques, to create small groups of microcredit beneficiaries and other activities.
Agriculture extension: SRI method enables a higher productivity using less seeds (40kg of seeds needed without SRI, only 10 to 20 using SRI method) © Tanvi Mishra / CARE
I was really impressed by how women would take the lead in their family and village. It was very interesting to see that women would collectively save money to be able to contribute to their group's productive and consumption needs such as the school fees. I will bring back these ideas and try to see how these methods can be applied for vulnerable people in my country
I've always been very interested in international development, and this is one of the reasons why I participated in the challenge this year. This whirlwind visit is definitely worth the 90 or so selfies I took back in June. The work CARE is doing in India is remarkable and I am eager to see how these activities will flourish in the long-term