Location: Chatrapur, Odisha

Duration: 3 years

Typology of the solution: Wetland conservation

Scale of the project Peri-Urban

About the project:

Tampara is a freshwater wetland situated in Chattarpur block of the Ganjam district along the east coast of Odisha State. The freshwater wetland covers an area of 300 ha. It was declared as Ramsar site in 2022.

Wetland degradation and loss: Due to landscape scale changes, hydrological regime of the wetland in the basin got fragmented and altered. Tampara Basin has undergone rapid transformation. During 1988 – 2017, the area under wetlands declined by two folds, from 5911.65 ha to 2454.84 ha, largely due to increase in built-up and agriculture area. The river floodplains and streams, which aid absorption of peak monsoon flows and overall water conveyance in the landscape have been choked and encroached upon.

The connectivity between wetland regimes, particularly between Haripur Lake and Tampara have been fragmented by extensive constructions, impeding connectivity within the landscape. The loss of wetlands also creates a risk of salinization of groundwater and soil. Wetlands play a crucial role in recharging shallow aquifers and maintaining a freshwater wedge. As wetlands are lost and converted in the catchment and coastal belt, the risk of salinization is pertinent.

The wetland’s basin is dotted with numerous marshes and lakes of various sizes that act as life supporting systems for the rural and urban communities living in the area. The wetland is known to support biological diversity, livelihoods in the form of fisheries and tourism.

Wetlands in the basin act as natural defence against water-mediated risks. Their role in regulating water flow, especially around river floodplains and seasonal streams is crucial in buffering the communities against the disaster risk. Restoration and sustainable management of wetlands is a significant pathway for reducing water-mediated risks through use of ecosystem-based approaches. Strategies to address the drivers of risk adopted were:

  • Enhancing capacities of the key user groups of the degraded ecosystems
  • Supporting the conservation of the wetland ecosystem services
  • Capitalizing on the relevant local government programme
  • Restoring the wetlands and their hydrological channels in the basins
  • Advocating the community-based wetland management


Overall objective: Enhanced resilience of 12,000 households to water-induced disaster risks

Specific objective: Upscaling and mainstreaming Eco-DRR approaches into practice and policymaking for building community resilience to water-induced disaster risk covering 12,000 households (appr. 60,000 people).

Project Implementation and activities:

Landscape-scale risk assessment using Hazard Vulnerability Capacity Assessment tool and Ecosystem Services Shared Value Assessment was conducted to understand the local risk context and devise suitable Eco-DRR measures for building resilience.

Implementation of Eco-DRR actions includes restoring natural water regimes of wetlands by restoring their natural flow regime, strengthening sand dunes and barren embankments through plantations, sensitising and capacitating communities in wetland wise use and Eco-DRR, supporting alternate ecosystem-based livelihoods to regulated resource extraction from the wetland. Most of these actions were implemented through inclusion of these actions in Gram Panchayat Development Plans and convergence with the Mahatma Gandhi NREGS, Odisha Livelihoods Mission and other relevant schemes

Implementing partners:

Pallishree (a local Civil Society Organisation) supported in landscape scale assessments, community engagement and implementation of Eco-DRR measures

Chilika Development Authority supported in scientific assessments of the Tampara wetland wherein various bio-physical features of the wetland and its catchment were assessed to identify conservation and management actions

Nine Panchayats in Chatrapur Block, Ganjam District supported integration of Eco-DRR in their GPDP

Challenges addressed:


  • High dependence of community members on wetlands for livelihood activities
  • Full range of wetland ecosystem services and biodiversity values are not integrated into developmental planning such as Gram Panchayat Development Plans.
  • Cross-sectoral arrangements for implementation or upscaling of Eco-DRR are absent.
  • Resources for wetlands management are highly dependent on central government funding, the level of mainstreaming within local development programmes is low.
  • Requires intensive advocacy and capacity building to promote ownership of local government institutions in owning wetlands management for reducing water mediated risks and integrating EcoDRR measures into local/Gram Panchayat Development Plans (GPDPs).
  • Increasing conflicts between farmers and fishermen over Kanwar wetland complex resource use. There is presently no institutional mechanism at the local level to resolve these conflicts with due consideration to the needs of wetland management.


  • Devising alternate and sustainable livelihood opportunities for wetland user groups that are supported by government schemes or programs.
  • Mainstreaming wetlands conservation and restoration in local developmental plans
  • Strengthening capacities of the wetland user group and gram panchayat members to undertake community-based wetlands management
  • Demonstrate Eco-DRR by restoring hydrological regime (inlet-outlet, village ponds and marshes) in the wetland basin


Capacity Building

  • 15 Community-based Organisations (CBOs) trained in support of ecosystem restoration with risk reduction activities.
  • Over 800 members of the women self-help groups were trained on sustainable livelihoods and wetland wise use.
  • 11 Task Force groups comprising over 150 wetland champions are established and actively engaged in wetland conservation/Eco-DRR.
  • 90 members of two major Primary Fishermen Cooperative Societies were sensitized on sustainable fisheries and wetlands conservation.

Area restored

  • Over 18,000 community members were sensitised on Eco-DRR, of which 36 percent are women.
  • Nearly 450 hectares of wetlands and community common pool resources (ponds, drainages) are protected and restored.
  • Local fisher community started adopting sustainable livelihood practices such as discontinuation of zero-size fish nets and ecosystem management.

Advocacy with Government

  • Integration of wetland based disaster risk reduction measures in GPDP
  • Designation of Tampara as a wetland of international importance under Ramsar Convention

Lessons Learnt:

  • Understanding the local context (historical, socio-economic, level of knowledge and attitude, etc.) is essential to ensure community engagement and secure ownership. This was done by engaging a local NGO and undertaking baseline surveys, participatory risk profiling, and ecosystem services assessment. The results helped in devising Eco-DRR interventions, which are supported by the local communities.
  • Adoption of hybrid solutions (grey and green structures) are the most appropriate resilience building measures as communities at-risk accorded higher scores to by specific structural DRR measure, but also appreciated the roles of ecosystems and non-structural measures in reducing exposure & vulnerabilities by providing life supporting ecosystem services.
  • Identifying community-based volunteers and organisations to champion Eco-DRR has been effective in successful project implementation. Similarly, partnerships with landscape-based NGOs and knowledgeable local partners helped in developing Eco-DRR conscious wetlands management plans.
  • Review of existing sectoral plans that guide developmental actions in the landscape was helpful in identifying entry points for Eco-DRR and its upscaling.
  • Developing a shared vision document where community representatives and members of primary fish cooperative society identify wetland management actions.

Scalability and replicability potential and conditions for success:

The Eco-DRR India programme targeted the mainstreaming of wetland-based Eco-DRR measures into local sectoral plans. It includes district disaster management plans, wetland management plans, and local level development plans (also known as Gram Panchayat Developmental Plans – GPDP). A suite of activities was identified under Disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and ecosystem management and restoration that contribute to building community resilience towards water-related risks. These activities include wetland restoration and enhanced protection, promotion of wetland wise use, and capacity building of relevant stakeholders to uptake Eco-DRR measures.

Additional Information:

India: Upscaling Community Resilience Through Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction (Eco-DRR)


Dhruv Verma, Senior Technical Officer, Wetlands International – South Asia

Email: dhruv.verma@wi-sa.org