J. Black-Michaud and J. Johnson
Fishery Policy and Planning Division
|This paper examines the benefits from and the requirements for a successful participatory approach in small-scale fisheries development projects. The lessons learned from past attempts at participatory processes in small-scale agricultural projects are reviewed, and compared with the actual, sometimes differing, requirements in small-scale fisheries. Participatory principles tailored to the needs of artisanal capture fisheries are proposed, along with practical suggestions on how these principles can be implemented.|
FAO's Integrated Small-scale Fisheries Development Strategy began to evolve almost ten years ago with two major objectives in view:
Sustained development in small-scale fishing communities through more effective extension methods, appropriate technical innovations in the fish production, and the upgrading of local managerial skills.
To ensure that improvements in the capture, processing and marketing sectors would be supported by the progressive modification of local institutional and organisational structures, so that ground gained was not ultimately lost when individual, internationally assisted projects came to an end.
These aims would be reached by means of an integrated development approach in which projects focus upon a limited number of fishing communities in a given area. Under this strategy, managerial, technical, and logistic support are to be provided by a “Fisheries Development Unit” (FDU) manned by a multidisciplinary team of specialists. In some cases, shore-services and other facilities grouped in what is known as “Community Fisheries Centres” (CFC), would be set up in the villages to enable the fishing folk to have equitable access to supplies, fish processing, marketing, repair and institutional services. More detailed descriptions of the FDU and the CFC are given in other FAO publications (see bibliography).
It was recognized from the beginning, however, that the human dimension - that is, the dynamic interaction, the active participation of individuals and groups - would be a key element in the success or failure of any such approach.
Experience gained all over the world during the 1960s and the early '70s had clearly shown that the most significant single factor in getting rural development projects to “work” was the existence of a climate of mutual trust and shared responsibility between the intended beneficiaries and the agents. A good deal of research was put into analysing the socio-economic ingredients that went into creating and maintaining this atmosphere of collaboration between rural people and innovating outsiders. The principle conclusion was that both sides must feel that they had participated in the taking of decisions and implementing them.
2. What is participation?
Anyone who collaborates with other people for the attainment of a mutually agreed end “participates”. While he or she can be forced by circumstance or higher authority to do so, participation in our sense, however, must be voluntary to be truly useful. This participation entails an openness to other people, a readiness for joint effort in spite of status and other differences, so that the pooling of minds, skills, resources, and experience can achieve more than before. It implies the rational organization of work using existing potentials to accomplish what was previously out of reach for an individual or for a group working alone at a given level of technology. Effective participatory action requires an open attitude of mind especially on the part of government officials or other relatively high status “outsiders” who must go out of their way to consult and cooperate on an equal footing with others with whom they are not normally even expected to come into direct contact.
For officials, participation also involves delegating initiative and a certain degree of authority so that people lower down the ladder may use their own imagination and abilities to find solutions to their problems, rather than being served with (often inappropriate) solutions from above. For experts, it means seriously listening to the experience and ideas of modest fishermen and consulting them before applying new technologies or suggesting improvements to local infrastructure and institutions.
Although for government officials and outside experts participation entails a significant departure from the behavioural norm, this is not necessarily the case for fishing folk. Joint activities and group deliberations and decision-taking is common for many fishing communities. Fishing people have always been involved in slowly changing their own technologies and their social environment. A participatory approach asks no more of them than their active cooperation in planning for a concerted programme of accelerated change that they will themselves implement.
The advantages of the participatory approach to rural development come from enabling most participating individuals not only to identify themselves with the development objectives, but also to feel that since they can really influence and contribute to planning and implementation, they thus have some confidence in getting real personal and group benefits from a successful outcome.
From such personal identification and involvement (emotional, material, and physical) arise the following main advantages:
the involvement of the fishing folks in the ongoing management and monitoring of the programme.
Effective participation results in increasing self-reliance in fishing communities. It thus fosters an awareness on the part of national and international officialdom that the fishing folks can quite adequately handle a greater degree of self-management, and that no development action which concerns them should be undertaken without their opinion and advice being sought and considered.
3. Lessons from the recent past
The first really concerted efforts to elicit participation by the beneficiaries took place in rural India some 25 years ago. The community development movement supplied (mainly agricultural) villages with material inputs and some technical knowhow in the hope that rural people would spontaneously organize themselves to build up their social infrastructure and rapidly introduce innovative methods in the sphere of production.
By and large, positive results were meagre and costs were relatively high. A principal reason for this disappointing performance was that community development officials were on the whole not very good at communicating with their rural clientele. They could neither perceive what would motivate country people to cooperate, nor could they adequately convince the villagers of the benefits they would derive from the collective action suggested by the officials. Neither were the officials on the whole good listeners.
Attempts to implement some of the more promising aspects of the programme were nonetheless made in other countries, while numerous field studies were undertaken to determine why it often proved so difficult to elicit effective popular participation in rural development. Many of the conclusions were relevant to specific societies only. But a small number of recommendations were repeated with insistence by most authors. It became clear that, without being recipes for sure success, these recommendations reflected some minimal preconditions.
Three absolutely fundamental requirements stand out clearly:
First, it is essential that the future beneficiaries are convinced that they must contribute their own manpower, money and/or materials to the project in hand. If rural people are not pressed to commit their own resources, they almost invariably regard the project as some kind of gift distributed by the authorities and feel little responsibility in the areas of management, upkeep and repair. This is as true for fishermen as it is of the farmer neglecting his maize plot, for which the seed was supplied free and then mechanically sown by the Department of Agriculture to promote a new variety, or as it is of the community using water from a windmill-operated pump, that it did not pay for or help to install and which irreparably breaks down after only three months for lack of maintenance.
Second, beneficiaries must be involved from the start in project planning and management and collectively called upon to take decisions with regard to both planning and ongoing operation. Otherwise they will rightly consider that they can exercise no real control over events and will rapidly avoid fulfilling any obligations they may have previously accepted.
The third requirement is basic and simple: the beneficiaries must expect some personal benefit (primarily, economic) as a result of their participation in the project. If such benefits are not perceived by the beneficiaries within a reasonable period they will lose their interest both in their participation in the project and in the project itself.
In addition to these three fundamental requirements, repeated field experience in many countries has revealed several additonal principles important for ensuring sustained people's participation in development. The following in particular have come to be generally recognized.
Coordination, advice and training (in management and technical skills) must be made available over a long period of time to beneficiaries so that they learn how to maintain and improve what they have shared in creating.
Innovations and infrastructure resulting from a participatory approach must not be isolated one-of-a-kind phenomena in the community. Participatory actions and structures should be chosen so as to support and complement each other, building where possible upon existing economic and cultural foundations. Individual and temporary micro-project activities, such as building a small bridge or digging a well, should be seen in this context as individual short-term elements within a longer-term continuing process.
A special effort must be made to involve women. It may be necessary in certain societies, where the sexual division of society, in general, and of of labour in particular is especially strong, to promote a separate category of undertakings for women. These wherever possible should be planned to complement men's activities and vice versa, so that both sexes reap greater benefits.
A variety of techniques must be used to make individual beneficiaries accountable to one another and to the whole participating group: nothing destroys the participatory spirit faster than the realisation by some members of a group that others are working less or getting disproportionately more out of the project than they are.
A management style must be evolved that ensures room for the participation of beneficiaries in decision making at every level. Officials must be prepared to modify authoritarian attitudes and to accept that rural people may often be more knowledgeable about what is best for them than the outsider, of whatever education and experience.
Collaboration with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can lend flexibility to participatory programmes and may contribute considerably to lowering costs. The tapping of NGOs for field staff and some specialist inputs often makes it possible to operate continuously in remote rural areas because the field officers of these organisations are usually volunteers and maintain a high degree of commitment even under hardship conditions.
Small, homogeneous, selfrecruited groups for the achievement of income-generating micro-projects offer the best prospects for initial success. Members of such groups must know each other well so that a sense of solidarity unites them from the outset. Initial undertakings should have clearly economic objectives so that participants are rapidly convinced that participation and the commitment of their own resources actually pay off. Only when a first generation of micro-projects has proven to local people, in the concrete terms of higher income or increased food availability, that participation “works”, will it be advisable to consider sponsoring more ambitious endeavours that may not yield such immediately perceptible individual benefits. It is thus usually wiser, for instance, to begin operations in a given community by offering assistance and technical expertise to a small group of fishermen to construct their own fuel tank and make wholesale fuel purchasing, thus reducing fuel cost, rather than to encourage the whole population to build a recreation hall or pave the main street.
4. Participation and small scale fisheries
4.1 Social differentiation
These considerations were taken into account in FAO's Integrated Small Scale Fisheries Development approach. These points were formulated, however, on the basis of experience deriving mainly from projects implemented in agricultural communities. The plight of smallholders, particularly in some Asian countries, and the ideological bias of certain development theorists have together contributed to the emergence of a view that regards participatory techniques as suited almost exclusively to projects aimed at helping the poorest of the agricultural poor. The rationale has been that the less needy farmers are unlikely to participate on equal terms with the really poor and that they in any case do not constitute a priority group, as they are already sufficiently well off to survive without assistance. In joint projects, sooner or later, the better-off will usually be those who benefit most.
This argument presupposes some degree of operational autonomy at the level of the individual small farm: poor farmers are assumed not to need to cooperate with their wealthier neighbours, and vice versa; they can therefore be treated as a homogeneous target group in isolation from the economically more powerful elements in the community. This is indeed relatively true for a wide range of situations in agriculture, where simple technologies and tenurial arrangements make for the existence of very small, self contained family farms.
But in fishing communities, where the capture technology and the associated services mostly demand a collective effort and certain economies of scale, it is not usually possible to make the same opertional distinction between the poorest, the poor, and the better off fishermen; that is, between hired labour, on the one hand, and the owners of boats, engines, nets, traps and so forth, on the other. Economic production in fishing communities is in most cases vertically integrated - from capture, through processing and transport, to marketing - so that individuals at each step in the chain cannot survive without the cooperation of those located above and below them. Also, most hired and other crews are traditionally share-fishermen with various degrees of gear ownership rather than fixed-wage day labourers. Furthermore, fishing as an activity requires the accumulation of considerable capital in the hands of owner-entrepreneurs to make the purchase, operation and maintenance of gear at all possible. The economic dependence on the highly variable daily results of fishing, the riskiness of the whole undertaking on open bodies of water, the short life of equipment under adverse natural conditions, the uncertainty of catching anything when the harvest itself is invisible and mobile - all these factors again require the emergence of skilled leaders and the dependency upon them of those less competent or experienced.
For these reasons, it is not proposed to follow in fishing communities precisely the same participatory approach as that which has already been used with some success among poor farmers. Groups constituted among fishing people to carry out micro-projects along participatory lines will not necessarily be egalitarian in structure. Their main claim to “homogeneity” should be that they are self-recruited and that members should therefore be acceptable to one another. It is, however, foreseeable that participatory groups formed around capture fishing activities will be more hierarchical and have a stronger leadership than in other spheres of production. (It should be noted that the composition of participating groups in fisheries development projects is not necessarily the same as that of the membership in existing fishermen's organizations, unions, associations, or cooperatives).
Participation in micro-projects concerned with the establishment of an engine repair shop or a new system for winching boats ashore, for example, is thus likely to be somewhat elitist, because engines and boats are owned by a comparatively wealthy minority. Success in these undertakings will nonetheless benefit crew members whose incomes may improve with better kept engines, and whose work will be made easier with the mechanical beaching. It can be expected, on the other hand, that the structure of participatory groups engaged, for instance, in trying out improved methods of fish processing or in the construction of rainwater collectors for individual houses could be much more democratic in character.
FAO's Integrated Small Scale Fisheries Development approach is thus partially inspired by previous attempts to stimulate development “from the bottom upwards”, but it in no way tries to be merely a faithful copy of the originals. The approach follows earlier designs in its emphasis upon the notion that grassroots development should involve local initiative and gradually expand from an initial nucleus of participatory activities, or micro-projects, as the confidence and skills of beneficiaries grow. But it also goes further in two important respects. Both are echoed in the stress that is laid upon the term “integrated”.
Firstly, a fishery is itself seen as a complex production chain that involves a variety of skilled experts and special techniques at different levels. What goes on at each of these levels depends upon the efficiency of operations both lower and higher up the chain, so that development at any one point in the productive process automatically implies a corresponding change at all other levels: new techniques cannot be introduced to increase the catch unless processing and marketing capacities are also improved; boats cannot be feasibly mechanized unless a motor repair shop is installed along with a steady supply of spare parts; new capital intensive capture technologies cannot be proposed unless fishermen are given access to credit facilities; and so forth. These are all examples of the manner in which fishing is an activity characterised by “vertical integration” in economic terms. A participatory approach in small-scale fisheries must always keep in mind the needs and constraints imposed by this obligatory vertical integration of fish production.
In the context of the FAO approach, integration has a second sense, which reaches out beyond the fish production handling-processing-marketing interdependencies. The strategy aims to improve rural living standards in such a way that gradual progress is achieved simultaneously in most areas of human life. Food production and consumption, water and fuel supply, housing, leisure and education, for example, are all very immediate concerns for rural people and should be the object of specific programmes that dovetail with efforts made to increase revenues from the sale of fishery products.
Community oriented projects and activities may also carry some very real and important economic benefits which are not necessarily immediately obvious. A safer water supply, for example, may decrease infant morality and save lives, but it will also decrease the number of fishing days lost through dysentery. Improved educational facilities carry obvious social benefits and may open the door to alternative employments, but they may also eventually help improve local fishing business management practices.
The promotion of integrated development thus demands close attention to the often subtle complementarities that exist in the rural community. No one is more qualified than fishing people themselves to find where the greatest potentials for establishing mutually supporting micro-projects lie.
4.3 Planning, implementation and management
The FDU, local representatives of government ministries and concerned NGOs must cooperate with the inhabitants of specific fishing villages in preparing the cluster of micro-projects that will in each case become a kind of master plan for development within that community.
To ensure that the micro-projects finally selected remain within the technical and managerial grasp of the beneficiaries, considerable care must be taken by FDU staff to avoid solutions that are too sophisticated. Even with simple development undertakings, fishing people will usually still require training both in technical and in managerial skills if they are to achieve lasting selfreliance. Their general unfamiliarity with bank statements and bookkeeping, as well as their often rudimentary knowledge and conception of machinery, make ongoing practical training and technical supervision essential. Five years FDU support may be regarded as a minimum, but seven to 15 years would probably be a more realistic estimate in most cases.
|identification of priority problem by the fisher-folk.|
|-||analysis of fundamental underlying causes by the FDU.|
|-||listing of possible alternative solutions to underlying problems, by FDU and fisherfolk. joint selection of most promising solutions by fisherfolk and FDU.|
|-||joint preparation of detailed micro-project workplans, acceptance of specific responsibilities for implementation (definitive self-selection of micro project group).|
|-||implementation and on going revision, with FDU (or other outside) technical supervision, if needed.|
|-||joint evaluation of results and identification of any follow-on required.|
|Fig. … Suggested steps for joint Micro-project identification, implementation, and follow-on|
Once fishing people have come to grips with the need to conceive individual micro-projects in an integrated perspective including the whole community and its natural environment, attention must be paid to the problems of resources management. In collaboration with FDU staff, fishermen can make an assessment of the existing and potential catch rates. Drawing upon traditional knowledge and outside expertise, they can assist in the establishment of plans for the rational exploitation of species and zones at different times of the year, in stipulating the types of gear allowed, and in setting up the institutional framework necessary for the formulation and enforcement of ad hoc ongoing management decisions.
Although the nature of fish production requires FAO's Integrated Small Scale Fisheries Development approach to differ somewhat from previous agriculturally-oriented participatory approaches, it shares three last elements that are usually cited as essential, but which often receive little more than lip service: special programmes for women, local participation in monitoring and evaluation, and corruption.
4.4 Women and youths
Women work as much as, if not more than men in most rural areas of the developing world. They make a very significant contribution to the village economy, in particular in fishing communities where more often than not women serve as fish processors, vendors, and even money lenders to their own menfolk. A deliberate effort should, therefore, be made to address women. Such programmes can be aimed both at improving the conditions and economic results of their work and at supporting their role in family maintenance and child care. To this end, there should be female experts on the permanent staff of the Fisheries Development Unit.
In conditions of high unemployment among young adults it might similarly be appropriate to make special provision for them also. It should be noted that youth, both male and female, are often more open to trying new and different approaches. Some of the riskier, more experimental micro-projects could perhaps be best carried out by youth working in self-selected groups as outlined above.
4.5 Monitoring and evaluation
It is now accepted practice to provide for monitoring and evaluation in any development programme, though it is rarely seriously proposed that beneficiaries should take part in these exercises. FAO's small scale fisheries development approach regards the fishing folk as an integral part of the information gathering system that makes monitoring possible and suggests that their representatives, with the help of the FDU, periodically audit their new projects and institutions, evaluate overall impact and according to their findings, adjust master plans for the future.
4.6 Corruption, embezzlement and theft
These serious problems have often destroyed otherwise viable projects and activities. The participatory approach can help to reduce the risks through self-selected micro-project groups, working with the group's own resources rather than with “gifts” from outside, and by incorporating traditional culturally accepted techniques for dealing with dishonesty. The power of an organized group, the partial protection afforded by the FDU, and the determination of honest government officials to support real development for their people can help limit the encroachments of corrupt officials. All these factors should be considered in deciding on the design and strategy of truly appropriate micro-projects.
5. Summarizing the advantages of participation
Previous experience with the participatory approach has been reviewed and there has been some discussion about implementing participatory development in fishing communities. But why should a participatory approach be preferred to other more classical methods of promoting rural development?
The short answer is that development undertakings designed and carried out with the active participation of the beneficiaries are normally much more effective than those in which innovatory technologies or new forms of organization are simply handed down to a crowd of passive recipients. In general, participatory projects can be more efficient in three respects:
they entail less wastage.
Participatory projects cost less per capita, because local resource commitment is a precondition for outside assistance to beneficiaries. Fewer long-term expatriate experts are needed since through “learning by doing”, local people gradually assume responsibility for much of the subsequent extension and management work. (In projects involving introduction of technologies requiring considerable skills, outside technical specialists will be needed for extensive periods, though.)
Participatory projects respond to local expectations, because the participants themselves have a key role in the identification, planning, implementation, and management.
Finally, this approach entails less wastage, because beneficiaries tend to think twice about expending their own resources, or loans they must actually pay back, on building infrastructure that is unsuited to local conditions or else too large for economic operation.
The participatory approach makes use of hitherto underutilized local capacities. It also promotes cooperation and solidarity among community members and pride in a job well done, so that participants in a development endeavour feel accountable to one another. This tends to diminish dishonest manipulation on one hand and helps to ensure that an undertaking begun with outside assistance continues to function after the withdrawal of foreign expertise, on the other.
6. Problems inherent in the participatory approach
Using a participatory approach to tap community energies is nonetheless not without problems. The four main areas of difficulty are located at the point where the knowledge and views of fishing people come up against the radically different methods of the outside world:
If fishing people are to identify their own problems and to cooperate in the choice of solutions with outsiders, they are severely handicapped by their lack of knowledge of things outside their local sphere of experience, by their unfamiliarity with the technologies available and, especially by their inability to judge how appropriate these technologies may be to their own circumstances. It is consequently not an easy task to achieve a good mix of modern knowhow and local experience in designing project components. The outcome may depend more on the outside experts' persuasive ability and successful demonstration of the new technology than on the sheer quality and real appropriateness of the equipment itself.
Fishing communities may for their part be eager to adopt a participatory approach. But it is often a less simple task to convince the educated members of a government bureaucracy and a development agencies' experts to collaborate on equal terms, for this entails their relinquishing some degree of authority and accepting that they may truly stand to learn something from the rural people.
The problems, priorities, and preferred solutions identified by the fishing people may be of a character which in no way corresponds with the overall and sectoral policies of the government.
A serious problem arises where the local social structure acts to prevent any participation in decision making or in the distribution of benefits to fishing folk who are not a part of the dominant local elite. This problem can be especially difficult where democratic procedures and institutions are traditionally lacking in the community. Possible alternatives in such situations include accepting the dominant local elite as the legitimate “participants”, negotiating a “special” modification of the local dominance structure in return for project benefits to the local elite as well as to the majority of the fisherfolk, attempting to impose more democratic participatory project structures from outside, or abandoning the idea of working in such communities.
Even if more democratic approaches are imposed from outside people who are not accustomed to democratic procedures may find it difficult to delegate authority without falling into the trap of selecting members of the local elite. The latter will, probably, do their best to preserve the old patterns of power and of distribution of benefits.
7. From identification to operation
The steps and institutional structures for planning and implementation that follow are suggestions only, based largely on recent experience in Africa. They constitute one possible way of putting the participatory approach into practice, but by no means the only one. Local conditions or staffing constraints may make it necessary to rearrange the order in which a number of specific tasks are carried out, or to use different institutional arrangements. Certain phases may even be omitted altogether or replaced by rather different procedures that are more appropriate to the circumstances. Our aim is to illustrate the bare bones of a methodology, not to enforce compliance.
7.1 Outside technical support: The Fisheries Development Unit (FDU)
A Fisheries Development Unit is a mobile team of subject-matter specialists, and may include capture technology, supply and maintenance of equipment, processing, marketing, credit and fishing folks' institutions. Other areas of economic and social endeavour that play an important role in community life, but may have little to do with the fishing sector proper, should remain the domain of the appropriate government or private agencies. The Integrated Small Scale Fisheries Development approach advocates equal consideration of all development needs. It is the job of the grassroots organisers, however, to bring fishing people to express their needs, participate in discussing possible solutions, and, if necessary, channel requests for assistance by way of the FDU to the respective authorities.
7.1.1 In-depth reconnaisance of promising fishing villages
Preliminary field research can be carried out by a two person team: a fisheries technical generalist and a social scientist (socio-economist, sociologist or social anthropologist) to shortlist communities for possible involvement with the development programme. Informal interviews with fishing people, community leaders, provincial government officials, major businessmen, etc. should be conducted to determine the main development needs, identify significant social groupings, gain an understanding of the structure and conditions of production and the presence of any major constraints to long term participatory development. Official statistics (demography, social infrastructure, education, land tenure and economic production) should be collected where available. Past development efforts may be investigated to determine the reasons for success or failure. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating in the areas should be sounded out for their experience and readiness to collaborate. The fieldwork is expected to take from four to six weeks. Logistics problems and conditions for FDU operation should be studied. A working paper setting out the results of this in-depth reconnaisance provides the information base for the next two phases.
7.1.2 Preliminary identification of fishing villages to be associated with FDU
FDU staff and the national Fisheries Department make a first selection of apparently suitable communities with clear potential for applying the integrated strategy. The presence in certain villages of NGOs prepared to cooperate ought to be an important consideration at this stage.
7.2 Introducing “Outsiders” to the integrated approach
7.2.1 Initial training of the FDU's resident grassroots coordinators
In order that fishing people may effectively participate in micro-project formulation and implemention, they will probably require long term organisational and managerial support. FDU staff members specially trained as generalists for this kind of work should be posted to residence in participating communities for several years. The coordinators should be effective and energetic men and women preferably with a rural background, if possible from the programme area. They should be familiarized with the Integrated Small Scale Fisheries Development methodology and technical aspects of their future assignment through a workshop of about four weeks duration designed and run by experienced integrated small-scale fisheries experts. FDU specialists will give assistance in the workshop as and when their particular expertise is required. As training proceeds, the less promising candidates should be progressively weeded out until there remains a small nucleus of highly motivated and well-briefed grassroots coordinators.
7.2.2 Familiarization workshop for development agency, FDU, government, and NGO personnel on Integrated Small-Scale Fisheries Development
Shortly after this initial training session, a second two-week workshop should be held for FAO, government and NGO personnel to familiarise them with the Integrated Small Scale Fisheries Development approach and the participatory techniques for planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and ongoing revision. The grassroots coordinators selected in the course of the previous workshop will also attend this one. (The inclusion of these generally lower status field workers is an important move in breaking down hierarchical attitudes and promoting a participatory style of management within the new project.)
One output from this workshop should be a list of government and international agencies that might be able to provide technical and material assistance in the context of particular development activities (agricultural research, soil conservation, rural industries, health, marketing, education, roads, women's affairs, etc.).
7.3 Letting the villages choose
7.3.1 Introducing the programme to potential participating villages
Various options for launching the participatory process lie open at this point, some more culturally acceptable than others in a given society. Public assemblies may not always be an appropriate means for getting all sections of the population to speak their mind: there may exist cultural rules that prevent certain categories of people from coming forward before their elders and betters or members of the opposite sex. In such cases, smaller subgroups or even interested individuals might be directly invited to voice their opinions.
Wherever problems of this type do not occur, the FDU team should visit the fishing communities already shortlisted, where some interest will already have been undoubtedly aroused during the preliminary reconnaissance. At a public meeting held in each village they can make a presentation of the objectives of the programme, taking considerable care to underline the participatory aspects that spell the difference between this and run-of-the-mill internationally-assisted development projects. The people in the communities should be encouraged to describe their main difficulties and their views on local development potentials. After some discussion, the local people should be asked to reflect upon the discussion and to work out a more detailed statement for each of the main problems identified so that they can be examined more thoroughly at a subsequent meeting scheduled for about two weeks later.
7.3.2 Listening to the considered reaction of the fisherfolk: a second round of village meetings
The purpose of the second series of public meetings is:
to assess the degree of interest in potential collaboration with the project described at the first meeting.
to discuss possible solutions for identified problems and ideas for micro-projects; cutting some down to size, ranking them by order of priority, and eliminating some altogether;
to prepare the ground for more detailed investigations to provide the missing information required for project planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the micro-projects to be executed.
It has sometimes been found useful to organize the second round of meetings around (non-simultaneous) interest subgroups, such as fish production, women's aspects, community welfare, etc.
7.3.3 Mutual self-selection of villages and FDU
Community reactions should be evaluated so that communities which are not very interested can be left out of the programme for the time being, aiming for the mutual self-selection of not more than half a dozen villages to work with the FDU in the first years. The grassroots coordinator to be posted to each of the communities selected should then be introduced to his/her village.
7.4.1 Putting the FDU's resident grassroots coordinator in the village
The resident grassroots coordinator should first work closely with the village fisherfolk to arrive at a consensus on priority problems which need to be tackled. Working with both the fisherfolk and the FDU specialists, the underlying fundamental problems need to be analysed, and solutions proposed where possible, as outlined previously in Section 4.3. This phase may well last for several months.
7.4.2 Identification and formulation of specific micro-projects
Interested subgroups of the fisherfolk, the resident coordinator, and the rest of the FDU team should then move to the formulation of specific micro-project proposals. Micro-projects may concern small groups only, or else may aim at the creation of infrastructure to which the whole village will have access. The general rule to observe at this stage is “production first”: if initial micro-projects do not succeed in the short term in increasing the real incomes of participants there may be no second generation undertakings. Subsequent micro-projects may be more social in character, if this is what village groups really want.
Each participating group together with the grassroots coordinator and appropriate specialists from the FDU team should draw up a document covering concrete work plans and assigning responsibility for specific inputs for each micro-project. Resource commitments by fishing people and outside agencies, an implementation timetable, credit arrangements and so forth should all be detailed.
FDU technical staff, in consultation with the village group concerned, will suggest possible amendments to micro-project workplans as necessary.
Simple methods for monitoring and evaluation should be designed into all micro-projects, making the best use of both written and more traditional oral methods of monitoring, social control, and transmittal of information.
7.4.3 Coordinating systems at village-level and above
Depending on local circumstances, it might be useful if representatives of all levels within the programme, as well as all affiliated agencies, could be members of an FDU coordinating committee. This group would oversee development activities occurring throughout the programme area, thus helpng to identify useful complementarities and to ensure there is no unnecessary duplication of effort. Delegates from the grassroots micro-project groups would have equal status and voting rights with other members, so that participation has a chance of becoming a reality even in issues relating to general programme management.
An informal version of this approach is already being used in some areas, where an “expanded” version of the FDU itself, including the field representatives of other agencies, and ministries working in the area, as well as delegates from the various villages involved, deal with aspects of area coordination, subject to eventual approval of suggestions by the actual village groups concerned.
At an intermediate level between grassroots groups and the FDU coordinating committee there could also be created, in those cases where an adequate traditional structure does not already exist, a village-level body to ensure collaboration and mutual assistance between micro-projects within the same community. Delegates to the FDU coordinating committee might be locally selected from this body.
The progress of each micro-project should be regularly monitored through the information system, so that work plans can be constantly readjusted and revised to accommodate changing circumstances.
Development indicators should have been selected at the outset to permit annual and three-yearly evaluations of impact. Delegates of the grassroots groups should participate as members of the FDU coordinating committee in the evaluation exercises. The annual evaluations should be internal, while every three years a team of external evaluators could be invited to join the coordinating FDU committee in this work.
After each evaluation an amended programme for the next period should be drawn up in an attempt to turn past experience to good account and to make the most of emerging complementarities between micro-projects. The micro-projects should be able to become progressively more ambitious as the years pass, while some grassroots groups may associate with others in joint undertakings that may eventually take on an intercommunity character.
8. Further information
These suggestions on participatory methodologies for small-scale fisheries development projects have been developed as part of FAO's programme for the integrated development of small-scale fisheries, a major element of FAO's Action Programme for the Development of Small-Scale Fisheries.
Many of the methods suggested here are now being put into practice in FAO's current small-scale fisheries projects, especially in those associated with RAF/192/DEN and RAF/197/NOR, “Programme for the Integrated Development of Artisanal Fisheries in West Africa”. The programme is designed to provide technical assistance to national integrated small-scale fisheries projects in West Africa.
Other publications relevant to the integrated and participatory approach include:
Ben-Yami, M. and A.M. Anderson, 1985 Community fishery centres. guidelines for establishment and operation. FAO Fish.Tech.Pap., (264):94 p.
Johnson, J.P., 1983 A proposed FAO strategy for integrated development in small-scale fishing communities. FAO Fish.Rep., (295) Suppl.:279-8b
Johnson, J.P., Introduction to integrated development in small-scale fishing communities. FAO Fish.Circ. (in preparation)
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