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Hindus in Africa launch plans for environmental change

Hindus in Africa have launched a long-term plan to address some of the most pressing environmental concerns in the continent.

Their nine-year plan was launched at an event in Nairobi, Kenya, along with similar plans from other faith groups in Africa. The plan is part of The Bhumi Project, an international initiative that works with Hindus to address environmental concerns. The event was hosted by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC).

Over the next nine years the Hindu community plans to green religious and cultural centres, promote green economy, develop educational resources for schools and use social media to engage the youth. Implementation of the plan will take a holistic approach, engaging with the wider Hindu and non-Hindu community in Africa. "We can't work in a vacuum, focusing only on the environment" said Preetika Bhanderi, head of the Bhumi Project in Africa. "We must focus on sustainable ecological footprints and greening religious practices and lifestyles when implementing our programmes."

The Plan will first be implemented in Kenya, followed by East Africa – which has a high concentration of Hindus, followed by the rest of the continent.

There are 1.7 million Hindus in Africa. Arriving in the continent in the 1800s as labourers, they can now be found working in a number of industries, including manufacturing, textiles and commerce. They own and run a number of schools, hospitals and charitable organisations. Speaking at the launch of the nine-year plan, Muljibhai Pindolia, Chairman of the Hindu Council of Africa, commented, "Hindus have always played an important role in the development of Africa. We see this as our country, and want to contribute as much as possible. This new initiative will further increase our work with all Africans to create a better life for all."

The Plan is part of a wider initiative, The Bhumi Project. Bhumi is Sanskrit for Mother Earth. The Project was started in 2009, and aims to work with and encourage Hindus worldwide in the care, protection and service of the planet. "To see the work our Africa team has done is very inspiring," commented Gopal Patel, Project Manager of the Bhumi Project. "They have taken Hindu principles of good environmental practice and seen how they can be applied to the needs of Africa." Besides working in Africa, the Bhumi Project is active in America, Europe and India, where it is developing green initiatives for the Kumbh Mela in January.

Along with the launch of the Plan, a statement was also released to encourage Hindus to be aware of animal poaching, and to help endangered species in Africa, particularly the elephant and rhino.