CAPACITY BUILDING OF COASTAL COMMUNITY
Most of us live our lives unaware of how our day to day actions affect the health and sustainability of the ocean and its many resources on we depend. To understand and make aware of the common it need to gather information from the exact condition from the seabed. From our own experience, FML recognized that indigenous community has the tremendous knowledge and skills to intervene in the sea at any condition. To study the problems looming the ocean it is very essential to really experience underwater world and here come the importance of SCUBA diving skill which can be used in seabed studies, conservation activities, ocean literacy programs and in rescue operations. As a part of this we recently conducted SCUBA diving training for selected 10 members of the fishing community. In the context of the recent cyclone disaster – “Ockhi” – the larger society has come to realize that the indigenous fishing community is the most suited for marine rescue operations in the most harsh and unfavorable conditions at sea. So, we thought that the further level of training will definitely help the coastal community which will strengthen our Disaster Management system in future. Thus we provided further SCUBA Diving training which includes marine rescue operations and Emergency First Response (EFR) training. Upon successful completion of training, the trainees were awarded an international scuba diving license (PADI). All 10 members have successfully completed till Rescue diver course. With a long term vision to make such disaster rescue operations efficient and fool proof, FML intends to build the capacity of this community as a novel initiative.
The major challenge was to raise the awareness and mobilize sufficient people for the training as the people from the fishing community don’t dream beyond their limits. But later we realized that SCUBA diving training is expensive than we expected and thus the fund rising became real challenge and which was burden for us as we are a completely voluntary organization. Somehow the training was completed with the support of some philanthropic people and sponsorship from few organizations. Besides all these, we are still facing a difficulty in organizing diving equipments as we share it with some altruistic SCUBA diving teams and now we are trying to own our own equipments in a long perspective. In addition to this, we are failed to organize females for SCUBA diving which is going to be a great deal in future as we need to break the boundaries that society has imposed on females from fishing community which is really a challenging task.
Through capacity building programs we aim at,
- In a situation where sea is being continuously threatened by means of pollution due to coastal urbanization and destructive fishing methods, it is necessary to document the real underwater picture of the seabed to understand the status the seabed which needs SCUBA diving like skill.
- To develop a team for marine debris and ghost net removal efforts and at the same time to conduct seabed studies and thus disseminate ocean literacy.
- To secure jobs for these skilled representatives of coastal community in marine enforcement, coast guard and coastal police, navy, disaster management etc.
- To make sure the involvement of these skilled SCUBA divers in local Rescue level operations during disasters.
- To enforce the government and policy makers to ensure reservation for such skilled candidates when they apply for suitable jobs.