Empowering local communities to take care of our beaches


Photo courtesy: Alan Bedding/Pixabay

Sandy beaches are a prominent feature along the 7500 km coastline that envelopes either side of peninsular India. These are dynamic zones that support coastal communities as well as marine and terrestrial life forms. Could these local communities play an active role in monitoring the shoreline, creating a knowledge base and eventually, a baseline for appropriate action towards disaster risk reduction as well as recreation of a healthy coastline?

This will be the focus of ‘A Tide Turns’ — an interactive and exploratory event organised by SNEHA and LAW Trust of Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu, the volunteers of Karaikal and Cuddalore and the Social and Ecological Stewardship Programme of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai.

The Shoreline Change Atlas of the Indian coast indicates that 45.5% of our coast is under erosion. Most satellites provide two dimensional images, from which it is not possible to discern the locale specific changing dynamics of elevation, erosion, accretion and sand quality of beaches.

Moreover, given the extensive length of India’s coast line, its administrative jurisdiction under ten states makes it very difficult for government agencies to monitor the coast. With a marine fishing village located at about every 2 km along the coast, community monitoring using citizen’s science can provide the necessary data for understanding the changing dynamics of our beaches. More importantly, such engagement provides a platform to usher in coastal resource stewardship.

The above has been tested with the Beach Profile Monitoring Programme, that uses barefoot technology and a citizen’s science approach providing scientifically accurate data. Beach Profiling involves making topographic profiles of the beach using the Adapted Emery Method for Beach Profiling. The equipment and method has been successfully tested and used for over a year and a half in Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu.

The half-day-event on February 6th will include

  • Interaction, sharing of learning and insights gained from the ongoing  journey of engaging with coastal communities to monitor shoreline changes along the coast of Karaikal, Puducherry and Cuddalore, Nagapattinam from 2014 till date
  • Release of reports on shoreline data collected as part of the Beach Profile  Monitoring Programme form 2015 to 2016 for Karaikal, Puducherry and Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu
  • Release of a book,   ‘A Tide Turns: Handbook for Coastal Communities to Monitor Shoreline changes’
  • Certificates of appreciation to community volunteers and organisations of the Beach Profile Monitoring Programme
  • Round table discussion on ‘Community Engagement for a Healthy Indian Coast:  Current status, issues and required system shifts in the context of natural and manmade disasters’ chaired by Prof. S. Parasuraman, Director, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
Date: 6th February 2017

Time: 2.30 pm to 5.30 pm

Venue: Library Conference Hall, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, V.N. Purav Marg,     Deonar, Mumbai- 400088

Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/206815186457469/

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