BY Raj Kumar Shrestha
Nestled in the heart of the majestic Himalayas, Nepal is a land of unparalleled beauty and cultural richness. However, Nepal faces environmental challenges that threaten this natural splendour. Pollution, improper waste disposal, and climate change are all factors contributing to the degradation of its ecosystems. In the face of these issues, a non-profit, non-governmental organisation known as Let's Clean Up Nepal has emerged, striving to create a cleaner and more sustainable future for the nation. Founded by Raj Kumar Shrestha, Let's Clean Up Nepal aims to tackle environmental issues through a multifaceted approach. The organisation's mission includes six crucial pillars.
Education and Awareness: The first step in addressing any problem is understanding it. Let's Clean Up Nepal emphasises education and awareness campaigns to enlighten communities about the impact of pollution, waste, and climate change. By empowering individuals with knowledge, the organisation sparks a sense of responsibility and encourages collective action.
Community Engagement: Engaging communities is at the core of Let's Clean Up Nepal's strategy. Through interactive workshops, seminars, and grassroots initiatives, the organisation fosters a sense of ownership and pride among the local residents. This communal approach ensures sustainable and long-term change, as the people themselves become protectors of their environment.
Cleanup Initiatives: Hands-on efforts are vital to effect real change. Let's Clean Up Nepal conducts regular cleanup drives, removing tons of waste from mountains, rivers, and cities. These activities not only restore the natural beauty of Nepal's landscapes but also have a positive impact on wildlife, aquatic life, and overall ecosystem health.
Proper Waste Disposal Systems: Promoting responsible waste management practices is a cornerstone of the organisation's work. By advocating for efficient waste disposal systems and recycling initiatives, Let's Clean Up Nepal seeks to minimise environmental pollution and its adverse effects.
Sustainable Partnerships: Collaboration is key to making a meaningful impact. Let's Clean Up Nepal actively seeks partnerships with like-minded organisations, government bodies, and individuals who share their vision for a cleaner and greener Nepal. Together, they implement projects that address various environmental challenges.
Advocacy and Policy Development: Let's Clean Up Nepal recognises that long-lasting change requires supportive policies. The organisation engages in advocacy efforts to influence policies that promote environmental conservation, sustainability, and the well-being of the Nepalis communities.
One of the organisation's most notable achievements is the fostering of healthy ecosystems throughout the country. Thanks to the tireless efforts of dedicated volunteers and Let's Clean Up Nepal's initiatives, several significant changes have taken place:
Cleaner and Safer Water Sources: Access to clean water is vital for both human communities and the environment. Through targeted initiatives, the organisation has improved water quality, ensuring safer drinking water for Nepalis residents and supporting thriving aquatic life in rivers and lakes.
Return of Wildlife: The positive impact of Let's Clean Up Nepal's work is evident in the return of birds and fish to previously polluted areas. As the environment improves, various species of animals have found refuge in healthier ecosystems.
Thriving Aquatic Life: Cleaner water conditions have allowed aquatic life to flourish once more. With improved habitats and reduced pollution, various fish species have made a resurgence, signalling an improved ecological balance.
Healthier and Sustainable Environment: Let's Clean Up Nepal's multifaceted approach has contributed to the establishment of a cleaner and more sustainable environment, benefiting both wildlife and the local population.
The organisation's success can be attributed to its collaborative projects that address specific environmental challenges head-on.
Some of the remarkable initiatives include:
Save the Mountains: This project highlights the importance of preserving Nepal's awe-inspiring mountains. Through various activities such as garbage removal, tree planting, and eco bag purchases, Let's Clean Up Nepal aims to protect the pristine beauty of the Himalayas and support the livelihoods of local tourism workers. Let’s Clean Up Nepal has removed 5,650 kg of trash from various mountains so far.
Save the Rivers: By organising regular river cleanups and advocating for responsible waste management practices, this project aims to safeguard Nepal's water sources, ensuring clean water for both wildlife and communities. So far, the organisation has conducted river cleanup campaigns multiple times and removed 20,500 kg of trash from the rivers and recycled it.
Menstrual Hygiene: Focusing on menstrual hygiene education and distributing reusable sanitary pads, this project supports women and girls, promoting sustainable menstrual hygiene practices and reducing waste from disposable products. Under this project, as many as 4,665 girls and women have benefited so far.
Hike for Environment: Combining outdoor adventures with environmental education, this project encourages responsible tourism, awareness about plastic waste, and the importance of preserving Nepal's natural treasures. The organisation has held around 20 eco-hikes for the conservation of the environment and removed 12,000 kg of trash from the hiking routes.
Sanitation Project: By educating children about oral hygiene and handwashing practices, this project promotes better health and hygiene among young Nepalis. So far, as many as 5,228 students have benefited from this project.
Green Nepal: Upcoming tree planting initiatives aim to preserve forests, support local communities, and combat climate change through carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation.
Educational Support for Nepal: This ongoing project provides educational resources and support to deserving and talented children, paving the way for a brighter future.
Guide Training (Upcoming Project): By educating mountain guides on environmental conservation, this initiative ensures that visitors to Nepal's mountains are exposed to sustainable and responsible tourism practices.
Let's Clean Up Nepal's tireless efforts demonstrate the power of collective action in preserving the natural beauty and cultural heritage of Nepal. By focusing on education, community engagement, and hands-on initiatives, the organisation serves as a beacon of hope for a greener, more sustainable future. As Let's Clean Up Nepal continues to collaborate with partners and expand its impactful projects, its vision for a cleaner Nepal draws nearer to reality. The organisation strongly believes that together we can all play a role in preserving the unparalleled beauty of this Himalayan nation for generations to come.
(Shrestha is Founder & Chairperson of Himalayan Green Trips, a green trip agency)