1.1 The SFLP
The Sustainable Fisheries Livelihoods Programme (SFLP) was established in 1999, initially for a 5-year duration. It is a programme funded by the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom (DFID) and executed by the Organization for Food and Agriculture of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the governments of the countries involved. It covers 25 countries in West Africa, 20 coastal countries and 5 landlocked, in which livelihoods of about seven million people depend on the utilization of aquatic resources. The Regional Support Unit (RSU) based in Cotonou, Benin is implementing the programme in collaboration with National Co-ordination Units at country level.
The main objective of SFLP is to assist the artisanal fishing communities (coastal and inland) to improve their livelihoods through the sustainable use of aquatic resources, thus reducing poverty.
The SFLP will also assist governments in drawing up policies and action plans which take into consideration the principles of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF) informed by the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach (SLA).
It will also assist the grassroots communities to develop their capacity to participate more effectively in the planning and development of fisheries and thus strengthen or even create, a link between the communities (micro level) and the local, regional and national structures (meso and macro levels).
The primary beneficiaries of SFLP are the fishing communities in particular the fishers, the processors and the petty traders throughout the 25 countries. The secondary beneficiaries are the Fisheries Departments, the NGOs, the sectoral planners and all other persons having some responsibility in the development of the fisheries sector and poverty alleviation.
The SFLP bases its actions on three considerations:
The existence of important threats and constraints to the sustainable utilization of aquatic resources by artisanal fishing communities.
The possibility of improving their livelihoods and alleviating poverty within these communities though responsible development.
The use of an appropriate approach (SLA) and elements of the CCRF permitting: (i) an improvement in the participation of actors in the process of responsible and sustainable co-management implying a sharing of responsibilities on the sustainable use of resources; and (ii) the encouragement of a more equitable distribution of generated profits.
One of SFLPs roles is to assist in creating the necessary climate so that the communities are in a position to evaluate their environment and their situation. In order to do this, the SFLP is developing a participatory approach, which enables it to undertake sensitisation and capacity-building actions in order to develop reflection, analysis and discussions within the communities.
SFLP initiatives are articulated through:
(i) Community projects focusing on specific actions in response to a local problem and aimed especially at enhancing the assets of fishing communities.
(ii) Pilot projects, which are large-scale actions, executed on a regional or sub-regional level.
(iii) Institutional support that is provided on a case-by-case basis in response to a request (this study falls into this category).
1.2 Objectives of the study on the contribution of research
This study covers six countries associated with SFLP, Cameroon, Nigeria, Guinea, Mauritania, Senegal and Mali. The study is based on one main observation: the links between the artisanal fishing communities, the policies that influence their livelihoods and research, are weak. At the same time, however, it is assumed that the contribution of research can be important in the improvement of livelihoods by generating knowledge and technological innovations.
Consequently, the commissioned study deals with the linkages existing between research and fishing communities and the present and potential contribution of fishery research to the improvement of the SL of fishing communities in the subregion. The study lasted nine months and covered five specific areas:
i) Identification of the diversity of the major livelihood groups and community/group strategies using fisheries resources.
ii) Evaluation of the potential of fishery research (including research in social sciences) and probable contribution to SL.
iii) Analysis of links existing between research institutions (fisheries and social sciences) and links between research and users of fisheries resources.
iv) Study of the effects of policies, institutions and processes (PIP) on research into SL and the contribution of fisheries and socio-economic research on the PIPs.
v) Identification of key lessons and activities to improve the contribution of fisheries research to the reduction of communities livelihoods from artisanal fishing.