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International concern over the widespread nature of food insecurity in the developing world has increasingly manifested itself in recent years. The 1996 World Food Summit (WFS) pledged to halve the number of undernourished individuals to around 410 million by 2015, a commitment encapsulated within The Millennium Development Goals (MDG), adopted by the UN in September 2000 - which also promised a similar reduction in the number of individuals who subsisted on an income of less than US$ 1 a day (then estimated at 1,134 million - around 25 percent of the population of the developing world). These concerns have been reflected in the programmes of multilateral donor institutions, most notably the IMF and World Bank who, since 1999, have made all concessional lending[1] (and eligibility for HIPC debt-relief initiatives) conditional upon countries submitting Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) prior to funds being released. These Papers not only oblige countries to encapsulate and quantify the multidimensional nature of domestic poverty, but are also expected to advance comprehensive macroeconomic, structural and social policies consistent with poverty reducing outcomes. Significantly too, PRSPs are posited to emerge from a highly participatory and transparent consultation process, thereby reducing the likelihood of policy slippage over time by ensuring that the ensuing macro- and sectoral development strategies are country, rather than donor, driven.

Despite this emphasis on "national ownership"of economic reform agendas, doubts are already being voiced as to whether the revised development strategies resulting will be sufficient to meet the WFS nutritional target by 2030, let alone 2015[2]. Equally, population growth seems likely to frustrate the MDG poverty reduction objective, with current projections suggesting a reduction of less than 30 percent - at best - in the numbers living in poverty by 2015 (FAO, 2002:2; World Bank, 2001:39).

These inquietudes have served to focus particular attention on the rural sector, where more than seventy percent of the developing country poor live and work[3]. Consequently, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the second highest deliberative body in the UN hierarchy, chose to orientate the opening discussions at its 2003 annual session (30 June to 25 July) around the theme of "Promoting an Integrated Approach to Rural Development in Developing Countries for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development". A keynote Report by the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, on the theme stressed, inter alia, the need to create;

"an enabling macroeconomic policy environment that is conducive to poverty eradication and sustainable development in rural areas by according high priority to incorporating broad integrated rural development strategies designed to reduce poverty into the national planning and policy framework (Annan, 2003:18, the italics are ours)."


"Recognizing that poverty affects a substantial proportion of rural households, national and international poverty reduction strategies need to target rural areas and households more systematically by integrating poverty eradication and food strategy objectives more firmly into Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers ...(Annan, 2003:21)."

Although the fisheries sector[4] was not explicitly addressed as a distinct element within the rural economy by the Annan Report, the lead UN agency charged with supporting world-wide rural development - FAO - atones for this within its 2000-2015 Strategic Framework. A specific Major medium term Programme of the Framework (Programme 2.3) is designed to facilitate and ensure the long-term sustainable development and utilization of the world's fisheries and aquaculture, and embraces ongoing efforts to eradicate food insecurity and rural poverty in coastal areas and main watersheds (FAO, 2002:106ff). Specific regional activities such as the Support to Regional Aquatic Fisheries Management (STREAM) in South-East Asia, the Bay of Bengal Programme, the Sustainable Fisheries Livelihoods Programme (SFLP) in West Africa and the Aquatic Resource Management for Local Communities Programme (ALCOM) in East Africa, and the Network of Small-Scale Rural Aquaculture Producers (Red-ARPE) in Latin America are currently addressing poverty alleviation and food security issues by applying various fishery and aquaculture development and management approaches. Yet, whilst these and other more locally-based projects and programmes have delivered notable welfare-enhancing outcomes, most governments in developing countries generally do not regard the fisheries sector as one of the sectors that could assist in the achievement of national food security and the reduction of poverty.

It is the task of this study then to redress this oversight. First, we examine the national policy-making process in order to identify potential avenues for advancing the interests of the fisheries sector when determining national budget priorities ("How the sector can be incorporated"). In particular, we examine how the major multilateral organizations" demand for the submission of participatory PRSPs from certain low-income countries before releasing development funds impinges upon the national decision-making and policy formulation process. Second, in order to apprise governments of the necessity of (and benefits from) incorporating the fisheries sector more fully into poverty reduction strategies and NDPs (NDPs) we commence by outlining two key reasons why the sector should not perhaps be peripheralized in development thinking and planning - what we term the "growth and equity" argument. The resulting framework allows us to draw up a global typology showing the importance of the sector within developing countries ("Why the sector should be incorporated"). Third, we examine the extent to which the sector is currently included in PRSPs, NDPs and donor strategies, providing concrete examples of how, to date, the fisheries sector has been integrated into such documents in an effort to identify best practices ("Has the sector been incorporated? - and, if so, to what extent"). Finally, we compare said outcomes with the outcomes predicted by the analytical framework outlined in the preceding section of this report in order to identify those countries in which the fisheries sector is relatively large in socio-economic terms - but is presently failing to insert itself effectively/substantively in either NDPs and/or poverty reduction strategies, and those countries which are currently "punching above their weight" in this respect.

[1] Concessional lending refers to loans granted at below market-related rates. Of the six loan instruments currently deployed by the IMF, for example, just one - the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (which funds PRSP borrowing) - offers concessional rates (presently 0.5 percent per annum).
[2] Jacques Diouf, Director-General of FAO, goes so far as to suggest that, on current trends, the goal of halving the number of hungry will not be met until 2050 (ECOSOC Press Release 6054).
[3] IFAD (2001) note that, on current trends, despite the drift from country to city, over 60 percent of the poor will still be found in rural areas by 2025.
[4] Unless otherwise stated, the term "fisheries sector" includes capture fisheries, aquaculture and connected activities in fish processing and marketing.

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