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From a woman's point of view

ASIAN AND PACIFIC WOMEN'S RESOURCE AND ACTION SERIES: ENVIRONMENT Edited by Susanna George et al Publisher: Asian and Pacific Development Centre, Kuala Lumpur Price: Not stated

 
By Rakesh Kapoor
Published: Thursday 31 December 1992

-- THIS RESOURCE guide to environmental action by women's groups and communities in the Asian Pacific region offers an excellent introduction to the issues involved, addressing all readers and not just women.

A result of elaborate networking and coordination between women from different countries in the region, the book focusses on forest-dwellers, agriculturists, coast-dwellers and urbanites and on environmental issues like nuclear testing, toxic and radioactive waste dumping and the greenhouse effect. Community-specific overviews of environmental problems and ameliorative action by communities and governments are provided. The book's annotated bibliography of journals, magazines, newsletters and audiovisual materials and its listing of networks, organisations and groups in the chapter, Resources, greatly add to its value.

Resource managers
Women, in this book, are not "victims" but innovators, activists, conservationists, natural resource managers and agents of social change as they "have a wealth of knowledge about their environments and thus have much to contribute towards the creation of truly ecologically sustainable communities".

The book documents the causes of deforestation, which range from logging and mineral extraction to shifting cultivation, the role of governments in this process and the impact of deforestation on forest-dwellers. Solutions through government action, such as the Tropical Forest Action Plan and "alternative action" by women's groups and communities are examined.

Agriculturists face an entirely different set of problems such as water supply, agrochemicals, drought and desertification. In this context, the book contrasts government action such as Pakistan's National Conservation Strategy with alternatives such as wasteland regeneration efforts by the Self-Employed Women's Association in Gujarat in India.

The wealth of material in the Asia-Pacific that the book collates comes in just the right combination of information and analysis for a variety of users -- activists, policy makers and researchers. The numerous case studies are extremely useful and will certainly inspire others in designing creative solutions. The excellent production and imaginative illustrations enhance the book's readability.

Rakesh Kapoor is research associate at the Centre For Science and Environment, Delhi.

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