FAO builds national and regional capacity in India on fisheries needs assessments and emergency response

FAO builds national and regional capacity in India on fisheries needs assessments and emergency response

17/04/2016

FAO is working to develop the disaster preparedness and emergency response capacity of government officials and civil society in disaster-prone areas of India through a series of trainings on emergency response and guidance in fisheries and aquaculture. With over 14.5 million fishers and rich marine and inland water resources, fisheries and aquaculture are central to employment, livelihoods and food security in India. Due to the impact of climate change and the pressure of population growth, however, people who depend on inner waters and marine resources for their livelihoods are extremely vulnerable to disasters, and lack the ability to adapt.

Arpita Sharma, Principal Scientist at the Central Institute of Fisheries Education (ICAR-CIFE), participated in a training of trainers on emergency fisheries and aquaculture response organized by FAO in Fiuggi, Italy on 23–28 March 2015. The training was part of FAO’s strategy to build capacity at the national and regional levels. “Upon my return to India, I was tasked with organizing training workshops in-country. We have identified two specific regions based on their major importance for the fisheries sector and their high vulnerability to disasters,” Sharma said.

Sundarban – a UNESCO heritage centre and the largest delta in the world – has been selected for its vulnerability to cyclone hazards, with high soil salinity and water logging. The second targeted area is the Northeast region of India – known for its vast water resources and rich diversity of flora and fish fauna, and which experiences recurring floods alternated with drought. This cycle wreaks havoc on fishery resources and often leaves rural people homeless.

The first training workshop was organized from 25 to 27 February 2016 by ICAR-CIFE in Kakdwip, Sundarban, at the Kakdwip Research Centre. The 24 participants represented nine organizations, including public educational and research institutions, as well as civil society organizations and groups.

Following the successful first training, ICAR-CIFE held a second workshop at the Fisheries Research Centre, Assam Agriculture University in Jorhat from 10 to 12 March 2016. It was attended by 25 participants from the ICAR-CIFE, the Krishi Vigyan Kendra, the Department of Fisheries from the state of Assam and Shillong and research institutions, national Non-Governmental Organizations and fish farmers’ organizations.

The participatory workshops used real-life scenarios and open interactions to increase the impact of discussions and take into account local realities. Guiding documents included the Guidelines for the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector on Damage and Needs Assessments in Emergencies.

As part of its effort to develop knowledge and capacities and support its staff and partners in the design and implementation of interventions, FAO makes every effort to ensure that the training programme meets participants’ needs and expectations. Workshops such as the ones held in India are important for gathering feedback on the newly developed training material, including on how to improve the training. The two workshops allowed in-depth exchanges between stakeholders who rarely have the opportunity to come together. The importance of good coordination between stakeholders was pointed out as an essential element of the needs assessment process.

Feedback showed that the workshops were very successful in raising participants’ awareness of sectoral vulnerability, and were instrumental in strengthening participants’ skills to better respond to disasters. Following the training, participants recommended that more such workshops be organized and extended to additional stakeholders.