Khonoma’s Eco-Warriors: How This Village Stays Immaculately Clean

It is very unlikely that a common person of India even knows the name of a Khonoma village in Nagaland when the average Indian’s attention hardly goes towards Northeast India. Khonoma is the first green village not only in India but also in Asia. Khonoma has taught a stark lesson to the world that is beating around the bush in the name of environmental protection. In the heart of Nagaland, India, there lies a small village that has become an emblem of environmental stewardship and cleanliness. Khonoma, often referred to as the “Green Village,” stands as a remarkable example of sustainable living and eco-consciousness. This article delves into the unique story of Khonoma’s eco-warriors and how they have managed to keep their village immaculately clean through a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity.Khonoma's Eco-Warriors: How This Village Stays Immaculately Clean

The Genesis of Khonoma’s Eco-Revolution

Nestled in the pristine Eastern Himalayas, Khonoma boasts lush forests, crystal-clear streams, and an awe-inspiring mountain backdrop. It’s not only the breathtaking scenery that sets Khonoma apart but the community’s unwavering commitment to preserving this natural beauty. Their journey towards environmental excellence began more than two decades ago.

Global Deforestation Crisis: History of Restoring the Environment at Khonoma

After many environmental campaigns take off with pace like rock music, they sometimes slip into the crawling like Indian classical music. This is a global problem, but the small village of Khonoma in Nagaland is a surprising exception. A project started voluntarily (and without government help) by the villagers in 1998 to conserve forest and wildlife, which is still ongoing,. The catalyst for the idea of the project happened as follows:

Khonoma’s Wake-Up Call: The Tragic Consequences of Traditional Hunting

Khonoma's Eco-Warriors: How This Village Stays Immaculately Clean
Angami Tribe

The year was 1993. According to the traditional customs of the Angami tribe of Nagaland, a colorful festival was organized in Khonoma. Along with acts of song, music, and dance, a hunting competition was also organised. The men of the Angami Tribe would go hunting with bows and arrows, and the one who hunts the most is declared the winner.

In Nagaland, many villages, including Khonoma, used to hold such competitions. In that year of 1993, more than 300 Blyth’s tragopan birds were killed in Khonoma alone. The residents of Khonoma did not realize what a heinous act had taken place in the heat of the game. But they became worried when not a single Blyth’s tragopan was seen in the surrounding forests and started feeling remorse. This feeling was multiplied when the villagers who went to look for Blyth’s tragopan in the forest also realized that, due to tree cutting, the forests around Khonoma have become thin themselves.

The Challenge of Convincing an Entire Village: Balancing Conservation and Survival in Khonoma

Khonoma's Eco-Warriors: How This Village Stays Immaculately Clean
Blyth’s tragopan

Some people in the village woke up to prevent it from happening again. They decided not to hunt wild animals and not to undertake any activity that leads to forest destruction. It does not mean that this kind of determination is sufficient for a single person. If and only if the whole village gets involved in that idea, the real purpose of the resolution will be fulfilled. The problem was only one: How to convince all the people of the village? The life of the Angami tribe of Khonomani was based on the forest. From cooking fuel to house building, wood was the main requirement, while birds such as Blyth’s tragopan as well as other animals were the Angami people’s food. How to survive without these two basic needs? It was a complicated question.

But an enthusiast named Tsili Sakhri took the lead. He met each and every resident of Khonoma in person and convinced them to save the forest and wildlife. Instead of relying on forest creatures for food, he pioneered a shift to agriculture. Asked to use the skill of Handy-Craft to earn a living.

Khonoma's Eco-Warriors: How This Village Stays Immaculately Clean
Tsili Sakhri

However, it was very difficult to change the attitude of the Angami tribe of Khonoma overnight, who have been hunting and cutting trees for years. The response to Tsili Sakhri was obviously very poor. Tsili Sakhri was passionate about his mission. Instead of giving up, he doubled his efforts.

Five years passed in his efforts. Finally, in 1998, all the residents of Khonoma village agreed. Pledged to preserve the natural wealth of the forest. A ban on cutting down trees and hunting animals and birds was imposed.

Khonoma’s Remarkable Transformation: From Deforestation to a Model of ConservationKhonoma's Eco-Warriors: How This Village Stays Immaculately Clean

The Angami people of the village did not stop here; rather, they compensated for the destruction of the forest in the past by planting trees. Khonoma, which once looked barren, became extremely green. The previously barren mountain slopes are adorned with rice fields. Birds like Blyth’s tragopan roamed freely here and there without fear. Today, while sightings of the Blyth’s tragopan are rare elsewhere in Nagaland, the bird’s highest population in the state is in the forest near Khonoma village. The villagers themselves have declared it a sanctuary. The people of Khonoma, who used to depend on hunting and trees for their livelihood years ago, have not hunted a bird or cut down a single tree since 1998. Agriculture, animal husbandry, and handicrafts made from wool have become the means of livelihood of the people here.

Khonoma: The Silent Pioneers of Green Living in Asia Khonoma's Eco-Warriors: How This Village Stays Immaculately Clean

All of this was done by the people of Khonoma silently on their own. Years later, in 2005, Khonoma was recognized as Asia’s first green village when the village came to the attention of the Indian government. Under the Green Village Programme, a budget of Rs 3 crore was allocated for the development of the village. Environmentalists from abroad started coming to Khonoma to understand what is called a green village. A foreign private organization has even donated 5,000 dollars to Khonoma. Khonoma, lost in the northeastern corner of the country, has caught the eye of foreigners, but to the average Indian, Asia’s first green village still remains unknown.

The Revival of Age-Old Traditions Khonoma's Eco-Warriors: How This Village Stays Immaculately Clean

One of the pillars of Khonoma’s eco-revolution is the revival of age-old traditions. The villagers have embraced their ancestors’ sustainable practices, such as jhum cultivation (slash-and-burn agriculture). By following these methods, they’ve minimized their ecological footprint while maintaining their agricultural heritage.

Waste Management: A Local Success Story Khonoma's Eco-Warriors: How This Village Stays Immaculately Clean

Khonoma’s waste management practices are an inspiration to many. The villagers are meticulous about sorting and recycling waste. Organic waste finds its way into compost pits, while recyclables are sent to local recycling centers. This commitment to waste management has resulted in minimal pollution and a pristine environment.

The Power of Community

Community spirit is the cornerstone of Khonoma’s success. The villagers work collectively to preserve their surroundings. Regular clean-up drives are organized to remove litter and debris from the village and its outskirts, emphasizing the importance of keeping the environment clean.

Modern Initiatives for Sustainability Khonoma's Eco-Warriors: How This Village Stays Immaculately Clean

Khonoma’s eco-warriors understand that the world is changing, and they are willing to adapt. They have introduced modern sustainability initiatives, such as solar panels for electricity, rainwater harvesting, and the promotion of eco-friendly tourism, to reduce their carbon footprint.

The Challenge of Balancing Tradition and Progress

Khonoma’s journey is not without its challenges. Balancing age-old traditions with modernity is an ongoing struggle. However, the villagers have learned to adapt while preserving their cultural heritage, creating a unique blend of the old and the new.

The Impact on Tourism Khonoma's Eco-Warriors: How This Village Stays Immaculately Clean

The village’s green reputation has drawn eco-tourists from around the world. Visitors are encouraged to partake in eco-friendly activities like guided nature walks, bird-watching, and cultural experiences. This influx of tourists has not only boosted the local economy but also increased awareness about responsible tourism.

Lessons from Khonoma

Khonoma’s story holds valuable lessons for the world. It demonstrates that the preservation of our environment is possible when a community comes together with determination. The village serves as a living example of how tradition and modernity can coexist harmoniously.

The Future of Khonoma

As Khonoma’s eco-warriors continue their mission to keep their village immaculately clean, they inspire the global community to follow in their footsteps. With their unyielding commitment, they offer hope for a brighter, more sustainable future.

Global Deforestation Crisis: The Urgent Need to Restore the Earth’s ForestsKhonoma's Eco-Warriors: How This Village Stays Immaculately Clean

According to scientific research, for every 100 acres of land on earth, 33 acres of land should be forested. That is the only way that the natural rate of conversion of atmospheric carbon dioxide to oxygen remains balanced. But very few countries in the world have maintained the figure of 100 acres of land vs. 33 acres of forests. Indiscriminate cutting of trees in the name of development is responsible for it.

If we talk about India itself, out of the total land area of 32 lakh square kilometers (33 percent of the article), there should be forests in 10.56 lakh square kilometers. But the actual figure is not more than 7 lakh square kilometers. In the name of forest protection, official programs are running in those states, but as the speed of forest destruction is higher, the result is always zero in terms of forest conservation.


(1) What makes Khonoma unique among Indian villages?

Khonoma is unique due to its extraordinary commitment to environmental conservation and cleanliness. It has earned the nickname “Green Village” for its efforts.

(2) How did Khonoma’s eco-revolution begin?

The eco-revolution in Khonoma began over two decades ago when the villagers decided to revive age-old sustainable traditions and practices. Khonoma's Eco-Warriors: How This Village Stays Immaculately Clean

(3) What traditional practices have been revived in Khonoma?

Khonoma has revived practices like jhum cultivation (slash-and-burn agriculture) from their ancestors, which minimizes their ecological footprint.

(4) What are Khonoma’s waste management practices?

The villagers are meticulous about sorting and recycling waste. Organic waste is used for compost, and recyclables are sent to local recycling centers.

(5) How does the community spirit play a role in Khonoma’s success?

The strong sense of community in Khonoma drives collective efforts to preserve the environment, including regular clean-up drives.

(6) What modern initiatives have been introduced in Khonoma for sustainability?

Khonoma has incorporated modern initiatives like solar panels for electricity, rainwater harvesting, and eco-friendly tourism promotion to reduce their carbon footprint.

(7) What challenges do Khonoma’s eco-warriors face in balancing tradition and progress?

Balancing age-old traditions with modernity is an ongoing challenge, but the villagers have learned to adapt while preserving their cultural heritage.

(8) How has tourism impacted Khonoma?

The village’s green reputation has attracted eco-tourists, boosting the local economy and increasing awareness about responsible tourism.

(9) What are the lessons to be learned from Khonoma’s story?

Khonoma’s story teaches us that with determination and community collaboration, the preservation of the environment is possible while honoring tradition and modernity.

(10) What does the future hold for Khonoma’s eco-warriors?

Khonoma’s eco-warriors continue their mission, inspiring the global community. Their commitment offers hope for a more sustainable and eco-conscious future.


Khonoma’s eco-warriors have proven that a harmonious relationship with nature is not a distant dream but a present reality. Their tireless efforts, commitment to traditions, and openness to modern sustainability practices have created a model for the world to follow. Khonoma’s success story is a reminder that with dedication and unity, we can protect our planet for future generations and live in harmony with nature.

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