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Introducing innovative supplementary livelihood for fishing communities of Gulf of Mannar 

UNESCO World Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves sponsored project to identify supplementary livelihood options for the fishing communities of Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve in Tamil Nadu, India
Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve

The Surabhi Foundation for Research and Cultural Exchange has proposed a unique and innovative approach – using filmmaking, storytelling and training videos - to identify and train for new livelihood options for identified communities living in the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Rreserve (GoMBR) to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 Pandemic. 


This project is initiated under the funds allocated by World Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves of UNESCO-MAB programme.


The aim of this project is to use the power of filmmaking and storytelling to:


i) Education: Allow the stakeholder communities (Fishing community, returning youth and others) to articulate for themselves possible livelihood options and challenges they face. This will be done through a filmmaking workshop – ‘Indigenous Voices Workshop’ -  where the participants will learn how to make short films using mobile camera, and will then venture out and make short stories on their communities.

ii) Training: The project will identify one or two alternate/additional livelihoods for the communities in the region. This will be done through multi-stakeholder discussions. Training video(s) will be made on these identified livelihoods in the local language and disseminated using mobile phones and social media. 

UNESCO Team at Tuticorin

UNESCO-Surabhi Foundation team with Tamil Nadu Forest Department Team and SD Marine Research Institute at Vhan Island, Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve.

This project  titled “Reimagined sustainable livelihoods post COVID-19 in Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve” has four stages, of which the first two stages have been initiated and the remaining two stages are in the pipeline:


- Stage 1 (Ongoing): The project team connects with resource person(s) and Subject Matter Experts (SME) for strategic brainstorming session.


- Stage 2 (Ongoing and Initiated): Project team and SME connects with local community and agencies (government and non-government) and conduct focused group discussions to define and understand the problems and operationalise the project. The trip to Gulf of Mannar is to completed this phase of the project.


- Stage 3 (To be initiated): Project team and identified SME conduct storytelling and filmmaking workshop – “Indigenous Voices” - to identify community livelihood opportunities told by the communities themselves.


- Stage 4A (To be initiated): Create short training videos on identified livelihood opportunities. 


- Stage 4B (To be initiated): On-ground SME support in dissemination.


This project aims to mitigate COVID-19’s effect by promoting unique Reimagined Livelihoods for the Fishing community and returning Youth in Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve and fulfil the general objective of this project by engaging the youth from local communities to identify reimagined innovative sustainable livelihood opportunities. To this effect the community members will be trained in filmmaking and asked to make short mobile films and identify for themselves possible livelihoods and the challenges faced. Along with this workshop which will allow the local community to articulate their vision and challenges, short training videos in local languages will be made on two alternate livelihood options. This will become a starter Do-It-Yourself kit for those wishing to explore alternate/additional livelihood options available. The training videos will be made on one or two of the following subject:

  • - Open Sea Cage Fishing

  • - Rope and Raft Seaweed cultivation

  • - Ornamental Fish breeding

  • - Eco-tourism/Niche Tourism

  • - Shell collection using Traditional methods


These Reimagined Innovative Livelihood options, identified by the local youth, will provide an opportunity for equitable, environmentally sensitive and sustainable economic growth supporting Indian governments One Health Mission and wealth redistribution in line with the Lima Declaration.


Fishing along intertidal zone

Women fishing along the intertidal zones

Fishermen heading to sea

Fishermen heading out to sea

Fishermen heading to sea

Fishermen heading out to sea

UNESCO team with Tamil Nadu Forest Dept officials

With Tamil Nadu Forest Department Team

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