Stories of Change

When ecotourism offers livelihood options to locals - A success story

The scenic beauty of Manglajodi attracts tourists across the globe now. Manglajodi situated on the northern banks of Chillika lake- the second largest coastal lagoon in the world. It has a distinctive ecosystem. Its marshy waters intrigue not only migratory birds but all creatures. However, a decade ago, Mangalajodi was tarnished because of birds' mass killing for consumption and trade. Over time, Civil society organizations, like-minded communities came to protest but somehow failed in their efforts.

Indian Grameen Services

In 2009, Manglajodi Eco-Tourism Trust, a community-based institution stepped in to conserve imperishable beauty of the place by managing tourism enterprises therein. Nowadays, MET is a widely recognized community-owned eco-tourism model rewarded with many prestigious honours; UNDP Biodiversity award, UN World tourism award and eventually demonstrating a revival of biodiversity in its wetland.Being a facilitating organization Indian Grameen Services has significantly contributed to strengthening eco-tourism in Manglajodi by supporting MET, and the local community to earn an alternative and sustainable income. One such testimony depicted below:

"Coming out of comfort zone flying to touch the stature may not that easy, but once you can make it through, it would give immense satisfaction and a sense of belongingness''- says Srinibas, a local dweller.

I never thought of becoming an eco-tourist guide though it was my dream ever. I lived in a tiny area of Manglajodi. We were into selling fish in the local market. To make the businesses better, I purchased an auto on loan became an auto driver. Rarely I got the chance to serve MET's tourists on call whenever they need my auto to commute. Slowly they utilized my services often, perhaps because of my sincerity, and I became their regular vendor. I got more opportunity to mingle with their boatman, guides then. Sometimes I peeped during guides - tourists chat, those were mesmerizing me.

I asked myself, 'can I be one of them someday?' but my anxiety and low self-esteem held me back. One day I expressed my wish to the project team with extreme qualms that they may reject my candidacy. Amazingly, they considered my case. I got trained in Indian Institute of Tourism & Travel Management, Bhubaneswar, fostered by expert tourists. Now I established well as a competent tourist-guide opined by my colleagues and travelers. I have multiple income sources now; I earned well and fed my family better".

said Srinibas Behera, Tangi Block, Mangala Jodi Village, Khurdha

Like Srinibas, the IGS's project has facilitated 7 other people getting trained in the Institute of Tourism and Travel Management in 2014: it was a 3 months comprehensive training, and thus currently they are actively working as a tourist guide and earning well.