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Consistent with the workshop theme of providing integrated, i.e. financial and non-financial, services to women in fishing communities, three working groups crafted specific recommendations covering appropriate policies, technologies and financial support for the improvement and expansion of microfinance programmes for the sector.

4.1 Policy changes and interventions

Recommendations for changes in the policy framework were made which aimed at creating better opportunities for women in coastal fishing communities to enhance their economic and social role and enable them to participate in development efforts, rehabilitation and conservation of the coastal and aquatic environment. The relevant areas of policy recommendations were further identified to cover both specific activity- and institution-related interventions.

Activity-related intervention 1. Mariculture

Activity-related intervention 2. Post-harvest

Activity-related intervention 3. Welfare and empowerment

Institution-related intervention 1. Banks and insurance agencies

Institution-related intervention 2. Governmental and non-governmental organizations and local bodies

Institution-related intervention 3. Research instititutions

It was also suggested that a feasibility study be carried out to establish a national network of fisherwomen's organizations in India. NABARD and BOBP were identified as focal points in facilitating information exchange and coordination.

4.2 Identification of appropriate technologies, income-generating activities and microenterprises

Recommendations and output of this working group provide a sound technical base for further expansion of microfinance support to income-generating activities and microenterprises that can be gainfully undertaken by women in coastal fishing communities in India. They provide valuable guidance for NGOs, fisherwomen's and fishermen's associations and government agencies and institutions that intend to expand their ongoing activities or initiate new programmes in support of women in fishing communities.

Many of the income-generating activities and microenterprises identified in the case of India might also provide useful information for other countries in South and Southeast Asia that might want to expand and reorient their programmes in support of women in coastal fishing communities, food security and poverty alleviation. All of the activities and enterprises identified make sustainable and responsible use of natural resources and thus contribute to the rehabilitation and conservation of the coastal environment and resources while improving the socio-economic well-being of coastal communities.

The following have been identified as the most suitable income-generating activities and microenterprises for women in coastal fishing communities in India.

The appropriate technologies to be used, cost of capital investment and working capital, suitable geographic areas and environments where the activities can be carried out and agencies that could provide vital inputs/linkages are presented in more detail in Annex VII.

4.3 Financial support

Recommendations for financial support focused on strengthening credit delivery mechanisms but took on a more integrated or "credit plus" approach. The group believed this approach to be more appropriate and responsive to the needs of women in fishing communities and endorsed the following.

Innovative financial instruments and loan products

The special concerns of fishing communities such as extreme seasonality, high risk and high levels of seasonal migration require innovative financial tools, specialized loan products and insurance/risk management instruments. It was thus recommended that MFIs take the initiative in identifying, introducing and supporting these innovations. Financial intermediaries such as NGOs or federations should explore the possibility of building their own risk funds with matching contributions from government or MFIs that have grant funds.

Capability building

Investments in capability building and training activities for those involved in microfinance provision and their clients were strongly endorsed. For women's groups, identified priority areas include leadership development, financial and business management skills, entrepreneurship and vocational training in pre- and post-harvest activities that relate to alternative employment opportunities. For NGOs working with fishing communities, improved managerial capacity to scale up their work and strengthen marketing and other linkages was recommended. MFIs need to provide financial support for marketing consultants and other business management professionals, as needed.

Study on group lending models

An in-depth study to document and analyse the relative efficiency of the various group lending models in the context of empowerment of women in fishing communities, including models outside the SHG-bank linkage programmes and other successful models in other countries, was suggested. FAO assistance in the conduct of such study was considered necessary.

Gendered statistics

There is a need to disaggregate lending statistics and financial records by occupation and gender in order to obtain an accurate and meaningful picture regarding the outreach of microfinance programmes to women in fishing communities. It was observed that existing data on microfinance programmes available with financial institutions and NGOs do not reflect the grassroots-level outreach of such programmes in the sector.

Integrated coastal development

The use of public funding for integrated development of coastal fishing communities, particularly the hard and "soft" (social services) infrastructure requirements, was strongly recommended. The Rural Infrastructure Development Fund was identified as a possible source of funding for this purpose.

Pilot project

A pilot project was proposed to put in practice an integrated approach to coastal community-based development involving women to incorporate the dimensions of alternative livelihoods, community participation in coastal resource management, women empowerment through appropriate credit delivery mechanisms, capability building and infrastructure development. It was proposed that the Government of India and NABARD initiate the pilot project, with technical assistance from FAO.

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