“We can’t even see the fish anymore”

“We can’t even see the fish anymore”

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#ClimateChange is forcing ppl to migrate in search of new livelihoods @OxfamIndia #LivingThroughChange #WED2015 http://bit.ly/1eT3VKG

Odisha lies at the mouth of the Bay of Bengal -the centre for many weather formations.  As a result Odisha has been more prone to cyclones and extreme weather events as opposed to the surrounding regions, however, in the last few years these events have been steadily increasing.

Oxfam India through its partners has been working in this region-not to address climate change but to support natural resource management and livelihoods.

Samudram is one such three tier program with the base of self help groups (SHG’s) at the village and cluster level called the Nari Shakti Sangh. Earlier Samudram was formed to work on advocacy issues but later was converted into a market producer organization which procured and sold fresh fish from the coast to get rid of middlemen who often quoted very little for the catch.

This is the story of Parvathy who was married off at an early age and came to Noila Nugaon in Orissa as a young housewife. Though opposed by her father-in-law Parvathy got involved with Samudram’s work after she attended a meeting by UAA on women’s empowerment and other issues . As she was the only educated woman in the group she was soon made Secretary of the Federation. She acknowledges the full support of her husband in the shift.

Through this program they now get better rates for their catch and feel more empowered. So even if their catch has one down they’ve been able to maintain their incomes.

Over the years Parvathy has seen many changes in weather patterns. She says the earlier climate used to be moderate with specific seasons. Now the summers have become very hot, winters are mild and the rainy days have become reduced but whenever they come they are very heavy.  She remembers experiencing only one super cyclone during her childhood but these past 4 years, she has experienced storms and cyclones every year. According to her the sea current has also changed. Earlier a single wave would crash and form multiple times before hitting the shore, but now the waves that form at a distance from the shore crash only once.  “We can’t even see the fish anymore “- says Parvathy matter-of-factly.  Due to warmer weather, fish are now going deeper and can’t be found on the surface any longer. Trawlers have also come into the region further dwindling the fish population.

As a result of this, Parvathy and other from her village have had to migrate out for work especially during the lean periods.  They work as labourers in cashew nuts farms and in construction.

As a migrant worker Parvathy feels she has been able to see and understand different cultures.  She also  feels that  among the younger generation only those who understand the value of traditional work will continue fishing in addition to alternate work. Fishing by itself, in her opinion, will now never be the sole source of income for families in the region.

 


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