Kumirmari, one of the remotest island villages in the Gosaba block of Indian Sundarbans, is bestowed with a unique political-social advantage and ecological infrastructure.

Kumirmari enjoys the status of one Gram Panchayat, one island and one village, eliminating provisions for internal jurisdiction-induced strife relating to development planning and actions. According to the 2011 census, Kumirmari is inhabited by 4,344 households, about 3,000 of which own land and ponds, providing opportunities to experiment with inland fisheries as an alternative livelihood option. Moreover, the village has 26 locally excavated canals. Commercial inland fishing is practised in some of the cooperative canals and profits are shared among the villagers who lease the canals for seasonal fish production.

In collaboration with NGO PRSJSM, the Indian academic team from IIT Kharagpur has established a base and network in Kumirmari with recently launched action research initiatives under two back to back small-scale grants (2021 and 2022) funded by Knowledge2Action CLOC program (https://swissnex.org/india/open-calls-k2a/).


The IIT research team from interdisciplinary social sciences has been able to mobilize villagers and generate a momentum in the island through a series of interactive workshops with representatives from NGOs, scientists and experts from government institutes (such as ICAR-Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute – CIFRI), women self-help groups (SHGs) and fishers, for exposing them to the ‘best practices’ in inland fishing. Using participatory systems mapping, participatory appraisal of natural resources, semi-formal on-site conversations and question-answer rounds during participatory interactive workshops, the transdisciplinary Indian team realized the significance of developing knowledge outputs in the form of practice-based (bilingual) training modules in inland fisheries with infographics and sketches, accommodating inputs from fishers and cross-feeding with (mainstream) scientific information and standard practices. 

Through concerted planning and actions, the research team makes an inclusive effort in verifying and informing the best practices and principles laid out in the locally contingent and coproduced outputs by systematic transdisciplinary experimentation in ponds at the NGO (PRSJSM) premise, involving local fishers including women. The experimentation initiative will be complemented with ancillary activities (research outputs), facilitating and up-scaling skillsets and entrepreneurial abilities of local communities including women. Through these initiatives, we critique the ‘same size fits all’ disaster management and modelling and assert that a ‘social resilience’ framework, accommodating inputs from local communities can unleash possibilities through which sustained solution strategies of dealing with climate risks and ‘dwelling’ in the delta can be forged and fostered.