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How Vulnerable Are Wular Lake Fishing Communities vis a vis Non-fishing Communities in rural Kashmir? Insights and Interventions for Development
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  • Atufa Regu,
  • Ananthan Pachampalayam Shanmugam,
  • Shivaji Dadabhau Argade,
  • Neha Wajahat Qureshi
Atufa Regu
Central Institute of Fisheries Education
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Ananthan Pachampalayam Shanmugam
Central Institute of Fisheries Education

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Shivaji Dadabhau Argade
Central Institute of Fisheries Education
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Neha Wajahat Qureshi
Central Institute of Fisheries Education
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Abstract

Wular Lake, one of the largest wetlands in Asia with 11,277 ha in Kashmir valley, is a biodiversity-rich Ramsar site supporting about 32,000 rural families involved in harvesting fish, water chestnut, lotus stem and fodder. With 2914 active fishers, Wular contributes 54% of Kashmir’s fish catch. Large scale land-use changes and global warming have led to siltation, shrinkage of lake area and alterations in water flow regime threatening lake ecology and livelihoods. This study uses a novel census-based multi-criteria Socio-Economic Vulnerability Index (SEVI) covering 23 fishing and 115 non-fishing adjacent villages. Except for Kunas, all fishing villages exhibited ‘low’ (0.21 to 0.40) vulnerability levels. Interestingly, no significant differences in vulnerability was found between fishing (23) and non-fishing (115) villages though, the former showed relatively higher social sensitivity. A graphical decision matrix based on sensitivity and adaptive capacity scores provides a snapshot of vulnerability status of each village. Using SEVI values, drivers - key indicators responsible for high sensitivity & low adaptive capacity - were identified and village specific development interventions suggested using Kunas as the model village for illustration. Improving education levels, strengthening community and rural infrastructure, and expanding livelihood options were key short-term strategies for improving resilience in Kashmir’s Wular region.