Cashew Gardens Community Council - Members of the community gather at the compost bin
The third project was started in 2012, the Community Garden. We would plant crops in boxes, but we had to dump the crops every time we were affected by flooding in the rainy season. And in the dry season, we were affected by pests. We found that we had to use many more pesticides than we wanted to control the pest to keep the crops. So, we decided to build a greenhouse: our climate-smart garden. It is powered by wind and solar energy, and we plant PVC pipes in a drip system to reduce the impact of climate change and pests.
Women have huge roles as champions of climate action. Women serve as the change agents in our community. All the directors and committee members on the Council are women who continue to serve significantly.
The Cashew Gardens Community Council was formed over 20 years ago, but our focus was much different when we started. Over the years, our focus shifted to the different kinds of environmental damage happening and realized that we could control [the impact]. We now see that it [climate action] all comes back to the households and community. If we teach each household how to manage their waste, then technically, we are teaching them how to minimize their carbon footprint and control climate change in their own little way.
We have learned that much can be done by youth in our community. The children are the ones who remind parents to separate waste because they understand that the situation [climate change] will impact them in the future.
When we initially started the project, it was voluntary and fun, but after a while, it became a bit overwhelming for us in the Council. We could no longer do it on a voluntary basis. Our recycling output increased, and we had to find ways to get financial support to continue the programme. Most of the Council members were employed, so we could only do the initiatives on a part-time basis. How could we get financial support for these projects to implement them full time because we had become so passionate about the work and wanted to travel across the country to educate other communities? We have spent time building a model in our community that we hope can be duplicated in other communities. We approached the Green Fund, a funding agency in Trinidad for climate projects, and secured financing. We received funding for the recycling project for a period of two years [currently, the Council is within this project period] and received funding from UNDP's Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme for the composting initiative. GEF and Habitat for Humanity also granted the Council funding to convert the original community garden to the climate-smart garden.