Sri Lanka fisher community in efforts to rescue degraded estuary

June 13, 2010 (LBO) – Deepika Edirisinghe lives in the dry Kalpitiya area in the Sri Lanka northeast coastal district of Puttalam bordering a degraded coastal estuary which is now yielding a much lower fish catch than a decade ago. Her husband is a fisherman, whose catch from the lagoon has been dwindling over the years.

She is supplementing the income of her family by cultivating aloe vera, a cactus like plant with fleshy leaves which grows well in the arid climate in the area with little water.

She earns about 3,000 to 6,000 rupees (30 to 60 US dollars) a month from selling aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis ) to a cosmetics firm.

She is one of participants of a livelihood improvement program run by the International Conservation Union (IUCN), a conservation charity.

“IUCN came and asked us whether we like to plant aloe Vera,” says Edirisinghe. “We liked it. They gave us the plant and the training. And now we have our own garden of 550 aloe vera plants.

“The first income was 6500 rupees. You can increase it according to the quantity.”

The International Conservation Union is helping supplement the incomes of residents living hear the Kalpitiya lagoon as the fisheries in the estuary gradually dim