Dehradun is the capital and most populous city of the Uttarakhand state in the upper north of India. Around 600,000 people live in this city, which is also home to many Tibetan refugees, living in exile since 1959. As they try to make a life for themselves in exile, they also struggle with environmental hazards in the city. Children are most vulnerable to these difficult living conditions.
Since 1984, Tibetan Homes Foundation, an independent charity which is partly supported through SOS Children’s Villages' sponsorships, has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Dehradun.
Uttarakhand, the state in which Dehradun is located, has one of the worst waste management systems in the whole of India. Dehradun is no exception, without any proper waste system. Due to the overpopulation and increased economic activity in the city, Dehadrun is drowing in its own waste. Indeed, the city is producing 350 metric tonnes of solid waste daily, and most of it is dumped untreated.
Furthermore, only 25% of the city is serviced by a sewage system, and this sytem is only 10% efficient. Children are especially vulnerable to the lack of waste management. Indeed, waste pollution has a negative effect on their health and living conditions.
To date, two generations of Tibetans have been born and brought up in exile in India, after the first emigration in 1959. Moreover, new refugees are still travelling from Tibet, autonomous region of China. They have often suffered repression and brutality, which has led them to flee to India.
An estimated 2,000 Tibetan refugees live in exile in Dehradun. Many Tibetan children are sent to Dehradun by their parents who see this as the only way that their child will obtain a Tibetan education.