From Chilika, India's largest coastal lake, the echoes of poetry, the reflections of festive lamps, its ever-present turmoil and biodiverse bounty have come together to portray livelihoods and lives, half full and half empty. After a broad conceptual framework about fish, fishery and fishing livelihoods, this book has explicitly focussed on the lake's ecosystem in Odisha and sustainability in fishing communities. The voices of the fishers have lent credence to the socio-cultural belief systems, right of commons, and disputes over conservation at individual and community levels. The volatility over the common user rights is underscored by lack of protection to the locals, absence of guiding principles, and powerful usurpers. The disruption of livelihoods through insufficient economic support is underlined by the lack of viable, equitable and regulated credit structures in the region. Issues of mechanization, ecological hazards, adverse impact of climate change and environmental degradation are explained through their own bearing on bionomic and traditional livelihood disruptions, and in-situ footprints on common property resources. In the final countdown, the sustained coexistence of Chilika lake and its varied community is narrated through an integrated socio-economic lens that accommodates extant challenges into its field of vision.
Soumen Ray is working as a Social Policy Specialist with UNICEF Odisha office. Born in Odisha India, he is no stranger to the regular cycle of hazards that impacts its coastal community. His deep-rooted livelihood concerns are born out of a wealth of personal interactions with the fishers of Chilika. Almost organically, his first book has grown out of their deep indigenous knowledge and understanding of fishery resources. Soumen's equity focused approach forms the core of his extensive writing on livelihoods, poverty and human development with an emphasis on evidence building and rights-based approach. The information of this document however expresses Soumen's personal views and opinions and does not necessarily represent UNICEF's position.