Lighting Up Lives - Green Hope UAE Brings Light to Indian Village

December 23, 2015

The Rann of Kutch in the Indian state of Gujarat is one of the most desolate and arid in the world. It’s a vast, barren land of salt marshes with very little vegetation and means of subsistence. This arid landscape is one of the major sources of salt not just for India but globally. Temperatures during the day soar to above 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) while the nights are bitterly cold. These salt marshes are home to migrant labourers, called “Agarias” who toil in pitiful conditions to manually extract salt through natural evaporation of the sea water. They live in temporary shelters with no electricity and trek on bare feet across this vast wilderness, in search of work.

At Green Hope we work on sustainable development and believe in engaging all sections of civil society, especially those who are marginalized, on the road to progress. With this objective, our team of three members, comprising of Pragna and Erin (who are in charge of Campaigns and Outreach respectively) and me (Kehkashan Basu, Leader of COE UAE Hub) travelled to Zainabad, a village on the edge of the salt pans of Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, India. We carried with us several cartons of books, donated by a corporation, to distribute to the children of the “salt farmers”.

At Zainabad, we were assisted by a prominent local business and social entrepreneur Mr. Dhanraj who has established a school for the underprivileged children, including those of the salt pan workers.

We conducted a half day workshop at this school, spreading awareness about the sustainable development goals, the current state of the environment and the important role of young people in mitigating climate change. Thereafter we donated the books which we had carried all the way from UAE, to the school library.

Afterwards, we forayed into the arid salt pans with our cargo of 100 solar lamps. The huts of the salt farmers were spread far and wide across the vast Rann of Kutch, with each hut several kilometers away from the other. Each farmer family thus lives, works and tries to survive in isolation as they extract salt from the marshes. The blistering heat of the sun and cold winds of the desert night, combined with the constant exposure to the corrosive salt make every day of their lives one of misery and a struggle to make it to the next day. Mortality is high and their children have little or no access to healthcare or education. Travelling across this harsh landscape on a SUV driven by Mr Dhanraj, the Green Hope team went from hut to hut distributing the solar lamps. Pragna and Erin opened the packs and demonstrated to the Agarias how the lamps work on solar energy. According to Pragna “the look of pure of joy on their faces as they saw the lamps light up made our effort worthwhile”.

Our team traversed several hundred square kilometers, travelling deep into the night, reaching out to a hundred huts with these lamps. Erin said “Tonight 100 huts across the Rann will light -- it is really fulfilling that we were able to bring a ray of hope to their lives”.

The following day, our team joined the children of the Zainabad village school to plant 25 Neem and Jetropha trees as a mark of solidarity and Climate Justice with the ongoing Climate Change Conference in Paris.

This project was our first step of using clean energy for the benefit of civil society and encouraged by its success, we plan to build on it and light up the lives of all salt farmers in the Rann of Kutch.

Click here to read an article on the project on

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