Gujarat-based Mahila Housing Trust (MHT) is one of the recipients of the 2019 United Nations Global Climate Action Awards for its project ‘Women’s Action towards Climate Resilience for Urban Poor in South Asia’. MHT was selected for the award in the category ‘Women for Results’, which recognises the critical leadership and participation of women in addressing climate change.

The winning project is aimed at building resilience capacities of more than 25,000 low-income families in slums and informal settlements across 7 cities in 3 South Asian countries. MHT helped organise 114 community action groups, which reached out to 27,227 women in 107 slums.

According to the organisation, 8,165 women were found to have demonstrated an increase in knowledge-seeking behaviour. Over 1,500 women were trained as climate saathis, who were responsible for creating awareness on climate change in their communities in the local languages. This resulted in a decrease of participants who viewed climate change as an act of god from 26 per cent to 9 per cent. 

The project has undertaken around 28,000 energy audits, saving over $7,00,000 per annum or Rs 5 crores in electricity costs and a reduction of 105 tonnes of CO2e per annum. These interventions included installing over 200 modular roofs and 500 roofs with solar-reflective white paint. The full impact of its projects can be found on the website https://www.mahilahousingtrust.org/impact/changing-lives/

The women-led empowerment model is based on the conviction that if the urban poor are provided with the knowledge to undertake vulnerability and risk assessments and equipped with climate resilient-technologies, they will be able to devise and implement locally relevant and pro-poor solutions that can adapt to climate change. To facilitate this, MHT assists with the required infrastructure and institutional and financial mechanisms. The organisation aims to empower women to take action against four major climate risks, viz. heatwaves, flooding and inundation, water scarcity, and water-related vector-borne diseases.

The UN Global Climate Action Awards are led by the Momentum for Change initiative at UN Climate Change. The awards aim to inspire policy and investment action towards a low-carbon, highly resilient future, increase ambition to implement the Paris Climate Change Agreement, and deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals. This year, over 670 applications were received from all over the world ranging from local governments and grassroots development initiatives to global companies and impact investment projects.