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Community Empowerment for Fisheries Co-Management

An overview presentation on Community empowerment for fisheries co-management dealt with a generic model of community empowerment from a practitioners' point of view as well as a review of experiences gained from level interventions. Empowerment of fishing communities means enabling resource poor, marginalised, isolated and unexposed groups to enhance their capacities in order to cope with changes, undertake economic and social development, ensure greater community cohesion, perceive mutual interests in sustaining fisheries resources and regulate fishing.

Since empowerment is a process, and grows over time and in different but mutually reinforcing dimensions, it needs to be fostered through holistic approach. Community issues and action areas such as gender inclusiveness, additional and alternative income generation, primary health care and sanitation, nutrition, elementary education, disaster preparedness, legal literacy, confidence building and visioning all need to be addressed in addition to those of conservation and fisheries resources sustainability.

Community empowerment is encouraged through networking of local organizations at village, district, provincial, regional and national levels. The empowerment process needs to draw energy both from "outside" and "inside" sources. Outside agencies may serve a catalytic role, promoting an enabling environment by facilitating policy, legal and institutional reforms, for example. But empowerment depends essentially on energies generated from within the community, through self-help projects and other stakeholder initiatives that both reflect and reinforce a sense of unity and common purpose.

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