Mountain communities are typically less affluent than their counterparts in lowland regions, and poverty and food security is still a fact in many mountainous areas. The drawing of policies and plans is less effective in these areas. Moreover, policy implementation is undermined by complex mountain topography, isolation and remoteness factors. Therefore, remote & isolated mountainous regions are often described by three factors; inaccessible, fragile and marginality to political and economical development.
Food security remains the major preoccupation of mountain communities in many parts of Asia, in the higher altitude and remote parts of the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region. The climatic conditions in this region of the Himalayas are very harsh: winter temperatures fall below -30°C, and precipitation is extremely low. The natural resources are limited, and farmers rely on subsistence agriculture as their main source of survival. In the winter, snowfall blocks the high passes and roads are closed, and the population must rely almost entirely on its own resources for survival.
The Renewable Energy and Environment Group GERES, supported by its partners in development (European Commission, Foundation Ensemble & French Ministry of Foreign Affairs) works with mountain communities to help them establish tools and processes that will strengthen and develop local potentials, improve livelihoods, and provide people with better options for remaining in their home areas. Many innovative tools have been developed, improved, and adapted for local use. e.g., Passive solar greenhouse.
One of the major challenges is to help communities use the inactive winter period to increase food security and generate additional income. Fortunately, one resource that the trans-Himalayan area has in abundance is sunshine, especially in winter. Solar radiation can be used to improve the quality of life in many ways. Potential benefits include warming houses, schools, dispensaries and handicraft centre and developing off-season agricultural activities such as composting, greenhouse production, and poultry farming. This Community of best practice will focuses on the passive solar greenhouses that enable vegetables to be grown during winter in the high altitude areas of the trans-Himalayas.
The main objective of this best practice framework is to develop a common platform in the cold-arid region of Asia to share knowledge on:
- Further development and improvement of passive solar greenhouse according to respective climatic conditions.
- Dissemination of solar greenhouse technology for the improvement of winter livelihood in remote and isolated mountainous areas.
- Ensuring food security during the extreme winter conditions in the remote and isolated regions of cold-arid regions of Asia.