Better resilience to disasters and improved livelihoods on South Asian coasts

April 29, 2016
Michelle Hibler

Research supported by IDRC and the former Canadian International Development Agency (now part of Global Affairs Canada) has increased the resilience of poor coastal communities in India and Sri Lanka to natural disasters and improved livelihoods. Carried out by the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation in India and the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement in Sri Lanka, the project has established coastal green belts to protect villages from events such as cyclones; reclaimed abandoned shrimp farms for agriculture; and established sustainable shrimp farming in other villages. Integrated mangrove fishery and farming systems were also introduced. 

The project was launched in early 2006 to prevent the kind of devastation that the December 2004 tsunami had caused along South Asian coastline. While the severity of the tsunami may have been a rare occurrence, coastal communities are often threatened by tropical storms, cyclones, and flooding.

In India, the project was implemented in partnership with local non-governmental organizations in 10 villages in southern Tamil Nadu state, and eight villages in Andhra Pradesh state, representing close to 4500 families. The communities participated in all aspects of the work and decision-making. Women were particularly offered training in vocational skills to develop alternative income-generating opportunities such as coir and basket weaving. Women also benefitted from the establishment of nurseries for mangrove and other plant species.

An important part of the project was to establish village knowledge centres to offer early warning systems and help villagers be better prepared tocope with disasters.

Read about the project's activities in successes in an evaluation report (PDF, 1.8MB)

Read about the project's implementation in a report by the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation