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Contribution of Inland Fisheries to Rural Livelihoods in Africa: An Overview from the Lake Chad Basin Areas  

Contribution of Inland Fisheries to Rural Livelihoods in Africa: An Overview from the Lake Chad Basin Areas

Within the very arid and difficult environment of the Sahelian region, Lake Chad and its associated riverine system have always played an extremely important role in the livelihoods of the thousands of people living in the Basin. However, due to the remoteness of the region the whole Basin is suffering an important information deficit and it is currently difficult to make accurate and up-to-date assessments of the economic (in particular inland fisheries) activities taking place within the area. The objective of this paper is to improve our knowledge and understanding of the rural livelihoods of the populations of the Basin and in particular, to assess the exact contribution of the fishing activities to the livelihoods of these communities. For this purpose, a detailed socioeconomic multi-activity survey was carried out, including a participatory poverty assessment, in the three major fishing regions of the Basin (the delta of the Chari River, the Ya?r?s floodplain and the western shore of the Lake). The survey was completed by a series of comparative analyses of the accessibility to fishing grounds and fishing gear ownership across the different socio-economic strata of the populations. Through the detailed description of the seasonal patterns of activities, the survey shows that for the entire area, households, disregarding their wealth level, still rely to a very large extent on subsistence economy where the three major activities (fishing, farming and herding) are closely integrated. With respect to the fishing activity the survey demonstrates the central role of this activity for all wealth groups. The participatory wealth ranking exercise also reveals to what extent the communities themselves perceive ownership of fishing gears as one of the primary signs of wealth. This result is strong evidence that fishing has become a key-element of the wealth differentiation process in the area. This result is corroborated by the analysis of fishing ground accessibility which reveals that in some parts of the Basin, only the wealthiest households have access to the whole range of waterbodies available, while the poorest households are marginalized or even excluded from these water-bodies. In other parts of the Basin, in contrast, fishing activities appear to play a major role as a safety-net for the poorest households. It seems therefore that there is no one-to-one relationship between the contribution of fishing activity and the wealth (or poverty) level of the households and that the well-known adage ?fishers are the poorest of the poor? does not reflect the complexity of the empirical situation observed, at least not in the Lake Chad Basin. . The review is part of the Proceedings of the Second International Symposium on the Management of Large Rivers for Fisheries: Sustaining Livelihoods and Biodiversity in the New Millenium [citation: In: Proceedings of the Second International Symposium on the Management of Large Rivers for Fisheries Volume II. Welcomme R. and T. Petr, Eds., FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. Bangkok, Thailand. RAP Publication 2004/17]

Published by: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific -
Uploaded on: Apr 2005
File size: 610 KB - Language: English
Keyword(s): Assessment , Fisheries
Category: Biota

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