By Karishma Modi | Sea-turtles brought Dakshin Foundation to the Andman and Nicobar Islands (ANI) and Odisha. Over time, it became more and more apparent that the complete well-being of communities in close physical, economic and cultural proximity to the oceans and other marine ecosystems needed to be prioritised by any organisation with a long-standing connection to a place. Dakshin Foundation’s Environmental Education (EE) and Community Well-being and Environment (CWE) Programmes do just that: prioritise communities in the coastal and island geographies of India. Our interventions, that problematise education and practices related to health in these communities, are responding to community needs and building solutions from the ground up.
By Anand Rao, Biswa Swaroop and Madhuri Mondal | The well-being of the small-scale fishing communities across our coasts are increasingly threatened by dwindling livelihoods, decreasing access to coastal commons due to poor developmental plans, lesser food security and nutrition, and poor access to healthcare. In 2019, Dakshin Foundation conducted a scoping study in Odisha and South Andaman to understand the wellbeing needs of the fishing communities. These studies raised critical points regarding the health and safety of the fishers and their families. We have grouped them into the following two categories: Health issues faced by fishing communities;
Health & safety issues faced at sea
By Namrata Lunia | Dakshin Foundation turned 13 on the 22nd of July, 2021, and to celebrate the occasion, we invited our online community to spend the day with us (virtually) on the 24th of July, Saturday. Registrations opened up a week before and with over 100 registrations, the response to the event exceeded our expectations!
The virtual meet was divided into six sessions, where the audience got to meet and interact with members of our programmes. The main goal was to provide the larger Dakshin online community with the opportunity to ask questions and learn about our work.
As varied questions poured in from people from different walks of life, it was extremely encouraging to see high levels of interest not just in the work that we do but also in the preservation of the environment and livelihoods.
By Adit Dsouza, Adithya Pillai and Sanjana Chevalam | A research team from Dakshin Foundation, supported by Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy, Ashoka University, is collaborating on a project to map philanthropic commitments towards marine conservation and other ocean-related causes in India. The research will explore three broad themes – a. characterizing the present state of resources available for support towards coastal and marine ecosystems and coastal communities; b. prioritising marine conservation and coastal community needs for better philanthropic support; and c. documenting best practices and strategies to mobilize interest and support for marine conservation and allied sectors.
By October this year, we hope to publish (at least) one working paper outlining the public and private resource flows within the sector, and delineating some of the challenges faced by organisations seeking to make an impact for coastal communities, habitats and species.
By Tanmay Wagh | The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MOEF&CC) recently launched the nationwide Long Term Ecological Observatories (LTEO) programme, a multi-institutional and inter-disciplinary initiative to understand the impacts of climate change and anthropogenic disturbances on a range of ecosystems and taxa. The programme is being implemented in landscapes across India and involves monitoring of soils, grasslands, forests, animal movement, herpetofauna, invertebrates, fish, birds and marine ecosystems. The marine ecosystems component of the LTEO programme is led by Dakshin Foundation in collaboration with Pondicherry University, Nature Conservation Foundation and the Indian Institute of Science. The Marine Theme’s research will be carried out in the Andaman Islands and will involve long term monitoring of coral reefs, seagrass meadows, leatherback turtles and abiotic water quality parameters.
By Kanishk Srinivasan | Earlier this year, we announced the launch of our new ‘Sports and Community Wellbeing’ programme in the previous edition of ‘Out of the Blue’. This time around, we have an even more exciting update, as we can announce that we received a grant for a three-year project to introduce sports activities as a platform to engage with youth in coastal communities in our project sites in the Andaman Islands and Odisha from 2021 to 2024!
SOL Foundation — an organisation based in the Principality of Liechtenstein have generously agreed to support us in our endeavours to use sports to engage with youth in coastal communities on topics of social and environmental resilience.
By Biswa Swaroop Das and Madhuri Mondal | The Health & Environment programme was initiated in February 2020 in Odisha. In the same month, COVID-19 started spreading across the entire country and we had to start working remotely due to lockdown and associated restrictions. In one of our previous newsletters we elaborated on how the team helped communities deal with the pandemic and its fallout. While providing relief to the fishing communities in distress, we realized how important it is to understand the impacts of the pandemic and the lockdown on these communities to better understand their needs and build their resilience to such external shocks.
By Vineetha Venugopal | The importance of coastal commons such as beach spaces, sand dunes, mud flats etc. to fishing communities can’t be overstated. They rely on these spaces for keeping and mending boats and nets, catching prawns and crabs, and having community gatherings. Despite this, the value of these spaces is often ignored by the state while making executive and policy decisions on coastal development. Sometimes even people living in hinterland villages and towns adjacent to fishing hamlets are unaware of fishers’ relations with these spaces. To remedy this oversight, the Communities and Resource Governance Programme at Dakshin started a participatory mapping initiative in Purnabandha fishing village in Ganjam. Our efforts were inspired by a mapping exercise undertaken by fisher groups in Chennai who recorded uses of coastal areas and commons, using this tool to fight back coastal grab.
By Karishma Modi | Moumita Bhowmick and Aplonia Topno are the young, local teachers from the Andaman Islands who joined the Islands of Wisdom project of Dakshin Foundation’s Environmental Education programme in 2018. When the project began under the Wipro Applying Thought in Schools grant in 2017, the primary, direct beneficiaries of our work were students of classes 3 to 5 from in and around the South Andaman village of Wandoor. Although the classes we conducted after-school hours three times a week were restricted to students in classes 3 to 5, our fledgling library was open to children of all ages.
After scarcely more than a year of engaging with our two, bright local teachers, we began to notice the power of the community in supporting young children in their education.
By Devathi Parashuram and Greta Ann Sam | The small but dedicated Current Conservation team has had a great start to 2021. At the beginning of February, we were all smiles, meeting for the first time in person, after almost a year of working remotely from different cities.
While we were busy with the COVID-delayed printing and distribution of all four issues from last year (Volume 14), we were simultaneously putting together the first issue of this year, which was published recently. We initiated content partnerships with two organizations—India-based Nature in Focus and Africa-centric Maliasili—and look forward to seeing them develop through the year.