Poor fishing communities in West Africa are participating in their
own development as never before. Guided by a step-by-step method
and helped by modest project funding, community members tackle problems
they have identified as holding back their social and economic progress.
This package profiles two such communities. In these stories from
Ghana and Guinea, the men who catch the fish and the women who process
and sell it recount how they have organized to diversify their livelihoods,
enlisting powerful partners from the private and public sectors,
and how they play a new role in patrolling their fishing grounds,
keeping poachers at bay.
Government officials at local and national levels relate how, often
for the first time, representatives of fishing communities sit across
the table from them to discuss problems and solutions.
Before, concepts came from experts and consultants, but now
it is the people themselves who identify their problems, set priorities
and participate in researching the solutions, says Mohamed
Moustapha Ly, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Fisheries and
Aquaculture in Guinea. I get around to all the fishing communities.
They express themselves freely; they complain about everything;
theyre confident - thats new, honestly, thats
An ambitious programme
The fishing communities profiled here are taking part in the Sustainable
Fisheries Livelihoods Programme, a partnership between 25 West African
governments, FAO and the United Kingdoms Department for International
Development (DFID). The £21.5 million Programme, which was
launched in 1999 and will continue until 2006, uses two main tools,
the sustainable livelihoods approach and the Code of Conduct for
Responsible Fisheries, adopted by FAO member governments in 1995.
A holistic approach
In brief, the sustainable livelihoods approach to development encourages
communities to consider their assets, strengths and opportunities
as a whole. Such an analysis provides the basis for a community
project. Achievements show governments how villagers can be useful
partners in development, not just recipients of services.
The aim is to help these communities, marginalized by poverty, illiteracy
and isolation, become full partners in society. Just because villagers
are marginalized does not mean they are without good ideas. Government
officials and representatives from non-governmental organizations
and the private sector, seconded to National Coordinating Units,
the national arms of the Programme, act as catalysts to bring out
these ideas and help communities to get organized to act on them.
Future of the Programme
The Programme has launched over 40 community projects in 25 countries
since 1999, two of which are profiled here. Soon, building on the
lessons learned so far, larger subregional pilot projects, which
have been identified by communities, government ministries and other
stakeholders in 12 countries in West Africa, get under way. FAO,
DFID and more and more West Africans hope that by 2006 the Programmes
approach will be used not only to reduce poverty and protect the
environment in the fisheries sector, but also in other areas of
society and throughout government ministries. The seeds have been
planted across the region and, as the reader will learn in the two
stories profiled here, healthy growth can already be seen.
Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central
African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte dIvoire, Democratic
Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau,
Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria,
Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo
+39 06 570 52762