Gulbaz Khan Afaqi
Fellow Since 2002
Soon Valley Development Program
This profile was prepared when Gulbaz Khan Afaqi was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2002.
The New Idea
Responding to the threat of deforestation, Afaqi is involving villagers in an effort to manage their forests and ensure sustainability of natural resources. His efforts rely on local people, initially as volunteer fire fighters in community brigades. Once they see that they can organize themselves to fight fires effectively, they join together in developing longer-term strategies to protect their environment. Afaqi links these community groups with each other and with a variety of other interested entities, including the Forest Department, private landowners, communities, and elected representatives. These groups pressure the Forest Department and private landowners to adopt policies and practices to protect the region's natural resources. By providing microcredit loans, Afaqi is also helping people switch to alternative fuel sources, a move that not only protects the forests but also is more cost-effective in the long run. Afaqi's idea is applicable to other areas facing similar environmental challenges.