Oceans and Coasts

Kitchen Stories

Understanding how Nicobar communities share resources in the wake of the tsunami

Team members: Manish Chandi, Charudutt Mishra, Rohan Arthur

The earthquake and tsunami of 2004 left a devastating impact on  ecosystems and human communities.  Just a few 100 km from the epicentre, the Nicobar Islands were very badly affected. As local island communities recover, we ask how resilient their traditional resource management systems are to these  disturbances.

The Context

The Nicobar Islands are biologically unique with tropical forests and mangroves, turtle nesting beaches, grasslands, and extensive coral reefs. Indigenous islanders have lived primarily along the coast, and used natural resources through systems of traditional ownership and management.

Change and cooperative behaviour

The overall aim of this project is to understand the influence of change, on cooperative behaviour and sharing among indigenous communities over natural resources ranging from coral reefs, coastal plantations, wild pigs, crocodiles and avifaunal resources. I propose that communities will cooperate or compete over natural resources based largely on characteristics of the resource itself – its natural abundance and its perceived value by the community. Markets influence these cooperative or competitive systems by modifying the intrinsic value of the resource, and by modifying extractive pressures.

Indigenous systems of resource management

Indigenous systems of resource management are potential avenues of sustainable use that can be incorporated into the development framework of the islands through adaptive management. This study aims at understanding how livelihoods and social frameworks influence the use of natural resources, as well as the foundations of socio-ecological resilience. By understanding these indigenous systems and modern transitions, we will be able to develop appropriate methods to address natural resource conservation and livelihood needs, based on an adaptive framework.