The Himalayas region comprises a series of mountain ranges extending over 3,500 km and straddling 8 countries, from Uzbekistan in the west to Myanmar in the east. Ten rivers which rise in the Himalayas area supply Asia. With around 100 million inhabitants, these zones are cut off in winter (October to March) and living conditions are extremely harsh. During the 2 months of summer, families spend most of their time gathering cow dung to provide heating in winter. The population depends on subsistence farming and the vast majority live below the poverty line (€0.7 per day). These cold deserts have extremely limited biomass resources and, in many areas, shrubs are cut down for heating and cooking, causing erosion and desertification.
GERES in India
Established in the early 1980s, GERES India began working in Ladakh, northern India. Until 2013, GERES India mainly worked in the high altitude cold desert regions, where temperatures can go as low as -30°C and where biomass is extremely scarce, although sunshine levels are exceptional. Efforts were directed at improving community living conditions during the winter and fostering the development of income-generating activities. Having pioneered the use of passive solar architecture and greenhouses in the Indian Himalayas, GERES has achieved a fair degree of technical, social, economic and environmental success.
GERES is no longer conducting projects in India.