Chhattisgarh Traditional Healers amongst Winners of the 2014 Equator Prize

16 Jun 2014

imagePhoto: ISHAN TANKHA/UNDP INDIA

New York - The Chhattisgarh Traditional Healer Association is amongst 35 groups that are recipients of the 2014 Equator Prize. The prestigious Equator Prize awarded every two years by a UN-led partnership recognizes “local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities.”   

In a region characterized by hunger and malnutrition, poor water and hygiene, and high communicable disease rates, the Chhattisgarh Traditional Healer Association is taking an inventive approach reducing infant mortality, improving maternal health, and facilitating local access to medical care. The association empowers “village botanists” to serve as agents of positive community-level change by showing them how to use traditional medicinal plants to meet modern medical needs. Work also focuses on getting formal scientific certification to traditional medicines that are proving effective in treating fever, colds, arthritis, malaria, gastro-intestinal diseases, and a range of public health concerns.   

Health services are provided to more than 50,000 families across 500 villages in 12 districts, and the average medical costs in communities served has been reduced by 70 percent. More than one million trees and half a million medicinal seedlings have been planted in 100 villages, restoring rare and threatened flora and fauna and improving local health and livelihoods in the process.

Winners of the Equator Prize demonstrate outstanding sustainable development approaches from across the globe, demonstrating community-based, grassroots action to address environment, poverty and climate change challenges head-on.   

An extensive technical review process guided by international experts was undertaken over the last several months, culminating in today’s announcement. Winners were selected from a record 1,234 nominations from 121 different countries.

“These are leading local examples of innovation and achievement that can change the world for the better,” said United Nations Development Programme Administrator Helen Clark. “They are not waiting for others to act.  They are on the frontlines of sustainability issues and showing what is possible when grassroots ingenuity meets the defining challenges of our time – ending poverty, protecting our planet, and responding to climate change.”

The Equator Prize has been endorsed by former heads of State Gro Harlem Brundtland (Norway) and Oscar Arias (Costa Rica), philanthropists Richard Branson and Ted Turner, a host of Nobel laureates, and celebrities like Gisele Bündchen and Edward Norton.

Twenty-five awards will be presented at a high-level ceremony at Lincoln Center in New York on Monday 22 September 2014 as a kick-off to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit.  Winners receive a monetary prize and join a prestigious network of 152 local best practices in conservation and development.

A further twelve winners will be recognized for their work on sustainable land management in sub-Saharan Africa at an award ceremony on World Day to Combat Desertification - 17 June 2014 - in Nairobi, Kenya, through a project funded by the Global Environment Facility.

Since 2002, the Equator Initiative has brought together the United Nations, governments, civil society, academic institutions, and grassroots organizations to recognize outstanding local efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.     

Other winners include:

  • Alliance for Integrated Development (Nepal): This association of women-led community wetlands user groups is combining agro-forestry, organic farming, wildlife management, and radio programming to sustainably manage the largest manmade reservoir in Nepal.  
  • Water is Hope (Tajikistan): A grassroots initiative that is using community-elected water custodians to establish an equitable water distribution system.
  • Asociación de Capitanes Indígenas de Yaigoje Apaporis (Colombia): An association of 21 indigenous communities that has legally established their collective territory as a National Park to address threats from multinational mining interests.
  • Northern Rangelands Trust (Kenya): A network of 26 community conservancies driving a community-based movement that puts indigenous communities at the forefront of land management, wildlife conservation, and sustainable livestock practices.
  • Farmer Movement of the 3rd Section of Camp-Perrin (Haiti):  farmer-driven initiative focused on food security, organic farming and reforestation.


For a full list of 2014 award-winners, please click here

Contact Information

Joseph Corcoran: +1 646 781 4022; mail: joseph.corcoran@undp.org