There is promise in ameliorating climate change when everyone contributes a little; this is what team SHAMOL believes in. SachinaPaudel, Shagoofa Rakshanda, Sayed Hasan Imtiaz and Salman Khan Promon, students of BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health and Department of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, BRAC University,came together to represent Asia in “The Geneva Challenge 2018”, held in Switzerland recently. The contest is aimed to present pioneering and practical solutions for climate change challenges of today's world. 259 students from around the globe submitted their project proposals in teams. 15 teams were selected as semi-finalists before five teams, one per continent, made it to the finals. Team SHAMOL won the second prize for their ingenious idea of using monetary incentives to boost public participation in the longstanding practice of rooftop gardening.
The four young enthusiasts proposed a mobile application, SHAMOL, which will guide users with the most available alternative for plantation in the densely populated Dhaka city’s rooftop gardening and farming. Information on seed availability, accessories, technical direction and other topics will be available on the application. “Our team aims to establish a responsive citizen network where they will contribute their resources” explains Promon. Public participation will be fostered by two packages in the SHAMOL app. Package One will enable users to rent out their rooftops so SHAMOL workers can grow vegetables and fruits, which will be sold to local markets. Package Two users can hire SHAMOL workers to do their farming on their rooftops on behalf of them, and the users may learn to do it themselves through the SHAMOL workers’ assistance. The users of Package Two will have full ownership of the produce, and if desired, SHAMOL will link the interested users to local markets to sell their harvests.
This nature-friendly approach is attractive due to its accessibility and financial motivations. The positive impact of the approach will be the alleviation of the rising temperature in Dhaka, caused by greenhouse gases, through increased greeneries. Other than that, home-grown crops will strengthen food security, employment opportunities for gardeners and farmers will grow, and public participation will lead to a sense of self-satisfaction for helping the environment. Moreover, this project supports United Nation’s Social Development Goals 11, 12 and 13.
“The big picture is often hidden behind small problems. A global challenge can be solved through simple innovative solutions”, says Rakshanda. By implementing the SHAMOL platform, green rooftops and vertical gardens will start to flourish around us. With the “The Geneva Challenge 2018” prize money, the SHAMOL app will be launched in Fall 2019. Through this digital platform. we can make Dhaka greener and reduce the urban heat together.