Developing non-fishing livelihoods for small scale coastal fisher communities


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Developing non-fishing livelihoods for small scale coastal fisher communities

  1. 1. Unpublished – draft paper DEVELOPING NON-FISHING LIVELIHOODS FOR SMALL SCALE COASTAL FISHER COMMUNITIES: LESSONS AND EXPERIENCES FROM SRI LANKA AND INDIA Erwin Rathnaweera & Chopadithya Edirisinghe, Practical Action, Colombo, Sri Lanka ABSTRACTDeveloping non fishing livelihoods for coastal fisher communities has been a challenge. Most empirical evidences showthat many such attempts to introduce non fishing livelihoods have been unsuccessful, a major cause being the lack ofunderstanding on the well-established patterns oflivelihood enhancement and diversification options in fishingcommunities themselves (in their market system). How do fishers make livelihood choices? What factors and processesencourage or constraint such choices? What sort of livelihood diversification and enhancement options are availablewithin their fishing communities? Can these lead to sustainable development of non-fishing livelihoods? These questionshave not been taken into account.Therefore the concept of livelihood enhancement and diversification to develop non fishing livelihoods has beenpresented as a brand new idea “invented” by the development community. The interests of donors and implementershave driven most livelihood development programs, with fishers being consideredas mere “recipients”. Theirparticipation has been confined to choose an item from a pre-determined list of livelihood options presented by thedevelopment community (Salagrama et al 2008). Invariably, this has led to unsuccessful attempts at developing non-fishing livelihoods.Practical Action has been working with lagoon and coastal fisher communities since 2005. The experiences generatedfrom these project activities show how the fisheries market systems (both coastal and lagoon) function and evolve.Participatory analysis of such market systems with the fisher communities and other market actors show existinglivelihoods diversification or enhancement options in their market systems and the factors that drive or constrain theirmaking livelihood choices. Facilitating fishers getting into existing options proves to develop sustainable non fishinglivelihoods thereby strengthening their fishery market systems. This paper attempts to discuss the lessons in detail.Key words; non- fishing livelihoods, participatory market chain analysis, livelihood enhancement and diversification1. IntroductionWith the assumptions and speculations on the declining capacity of aquatic resources, a lot of discussions began on arange of topics such as non-fishing livelihood development, alternative livelihood development, income generationsupport for small scale fisher communities and so on. Livelihood enhancement and diversification have been the keystrategy to develop non fishing livelihoods for fisher communities. A number of institutions, government, non-government and research firms, started to work on the area of developing non-fishing livelihoods for fishercommunities. Ironically, this continues, often in the same geographical location over and over. It is widely discussed andbelieved that many such initiatives have not addressed the requirement meaningfully.The work of Practical Action in the fisheries sector has given a different perspective to developing non fishinglivelihoods. The approachparticipatory market chain analysis has been the key to understanding and applying livelihooddiversification and enhancement in small scale fisher communities.2. Practical Action work on fisheriesThe fisheries work of Practical Action involved working with both lagoon and coastal small scale fishers geographically in8 lagoons1 adjoining coastal belts in Sri Lanka and Chilika lagoon2 in Orissa state of India. The project concept is on1 The eight lagoons are Rekawa, Koggala, Dodanduwa, Malala&Embillakela in the Southern Province and Panama, Komari and PeriyaKalapu inEastern Province2 Chilika lagoon is considered as the largest lagoon in Asia and second largest in the world 1
  2. 2. Unpublished – draft paperbuilding sustainable governance mechanisms for lagoon ecosystem management, of which developing non fishinglivelihood is a key component. This project began in 2006 and the first phase ended in 2010. The second phase3 onscaling up this project concept will be in 18 lagoons of Sri Lanka. This paper discusses why developing non fishinglivelihoods in small scale fisher communities has turned out to be a failure and the approach and the lessons of thefisheries work of Practical Action. Accordingly, the paper is structured around the following areas of focus.1. The factors that caused the developing non-fishing livelihoods in small scale fisher communities a failure. This information is based on the participatory exercises done with the fisher communities plus the literature review.2. Finally, the paper discusses the approach and lessons of developing non-fishing livelihoods in small scale fisher communities by Practical Action (presenting an example of Panama lagoon fishery).3. What has made the developing non fishing livelihoods a failure?3.1 Setting the need for “non- fishing/alternative livelihoods”There are three phases of development in the fisheries sector, namely, pre-modernization, modernization and postmodernization(Salagrama et al 2008). The small scale fisheries sub-sectors in both Sri Lanka and India have beensubjected to influences of these three phases. Even though it is difficult to specify the exact period for the phases, ageneral picture of what had gone and their impact on the sub-sectors can be made out. Pre-modernization phase wascharacterized by typical pre-industrial production and economic systems. In this phase, fisheries were one of subsistencewhere fishers could catch only limited quantities of fish, part of which they kept for their consumption. The rest was soldin local markets in cash-or-kind transactions that helped families to meet their other needs. The technologies wereindigenous and low-cost; the fish market chains were local and not very efficient.Modernization, the second phase is said to have begun after 1950s with the blue revolution and continued till 1995s and2000 in India and Sri Lanka,respectively. This phase was so influential that it completely transformed the traditionalsmall scale fisheries market systems, leaving a substantial impact on all market actors/players in the market system inthe sector. The key objectives of the modernization process were (i) improve technological efficiency to increaseproduction(ii)facilitate/encourage private and public investments into the sector(iii) promotion of the idea of sea,lagoons, lakes as “open access” (iv)Target toward export market(Salagrama et al 2008).To meet these objectives, the following production centered technologies were brought into practice: (i) mechanizedboats, (ii) motorized boats (Initially, wooden boats were motorized; later, intermediate varieties of boats of Fiber-Reinforced Plastic or FRP and plywood, were introduced) and (iii) brackish water aquaculture (shrimp and crab)(Salagrama et al 2008).The post-modernization phase is a period of crisis in fisheries sector. The negative implications of the modernizationphase became apparent and started exerting a negative influence on livelihoods. All in all, a significant increase in fishingeffort was recorded in this phase with different players arriving into the sector. Some resource conflicts resulted insevere fights, whereas some ecosystems such as lagoons and estuaries were over-exploited. With new investors’ arrivalto the sector, tourism with mass scale pollution appeared, resulting in damaging critical coastal /estuarine habitats. Thissituation also gave rise to loss of livelihoods and conflicts between fishers and tourism operators. Conflicts weresignificantly increased with the introduction of Aquaculture (prawn/shrimp farming) leading to both loss of human livesand natural ecosystems. According to the report “Smash and Grab” 2003 EJF, people have been killed in violence linkedto shrimp aquaculture at least in eleven countries. So was the situation in Sri Lanka and India. Aquaculture required alarge investment power which small scale fishers did not have and big businessmen /investors came in, making smallscale fishers workers of the shrimp farms in the natural ecosystems. To compound the situation, the eco insensitivedevelopment initiatives took a heavy toll on the ecosystems, leading to a complete collapse or change of thelagoon/coastal ecosystems. So was the situation with most of the lagoons in Sri Lanka. The collective impact of such3 The second phase is expected to begin in early January 2012 2
  3. 3. Unpublished – draft paperchanges can be summarized as loss of access for different stakeholders in fisheries to resources, technology,investments, and markets.3.2 The concept “non- fishing/alternative livelihoods” was bornWith the diminishing access to sustainable livelihoods for people at all levels, in particular small scale fishers in thefisheries sector, which is the crisis situation in post modernization phase, the concept of introducing nonfishing/alternative livelihoods came into existence. The requirement for this concept to take off immediately was furtherjustified by the relentless pressure on the ecosystems due to efficient fishing gear, boats, irresponsible aquaculturepractices and huge investments in the sector introduced in modernization phase and resource conflicts betweentraditional small scale fishers and new investors.This scenario drove donor/development organizations, government projects, and research institutions to work onintroducing non fishing/alternative livelihoods for small scale fisher communities. It became clear that there would havebeen two objectives behind the move, as follows: I. To provide alternative livelihood opportunities for small scale fisher communities that have lost their traditional fishing livelihoods due to the above-mentioned factors II. To reduce the fishing pressure on the ecosystem by moving/diverting fishing effortsuch as some percentage of fishers, new entries, into other possible non fishing livelihood initiatives3. 3. The introduction of “non-fishing/alternative livelihoods’ did not yield results. Why?Reviewed literature and participatory analysis with the fishers, revealed that developing non-fishing livelihoods has beenpracticed since 1990s. It is not easy to demarcate a time period though. However, discussions with the fishercommunities in the practical project locations of Sri Lanka and India showed that most such initiatives have not beensuccessful, except for a few exceptional cases. The participatory analysis done with the communities revealed the belowmentioned list of livelihoods being the most common list of non-fishing livelihoods, often proposed by developmentprojects. Communities received trainings one after the other, and in some cases financial support to start up theselivelihood initiatives. After a project was over, the livelihood initiatives were over until another project repeated thesame process.The common list of non-fishing livelihoods proposed and implemented by most development projects: Food processing (sweets, soft drinks, short eats, etc.) Beauty Culture Sewing garments Handicrafts Goat rearing Poultry Value added spices Yoghurt production Pottery Home gardening Shoe making Brick makingThe participatory analyses and reviewed literature show that failure to address the below mentioned aspects have led tounsuccessful implementation of non-fishing livelihoods in fisher communities. 1. Existing well established livelihood patterns in the small scale fisher communities were taken for granted. There are a lot of existing livelihoods within the communities, such as fish processing, fishing gear repairing, welders, tinkers, etc., services needed for the fish chain to run effectively and could easily be non-fishing livelihood 3
  4. 4. Unpublished – draft paper options. 2. Insensitivity to the caste-system in fisher communities was a major set-back as it is a very dominant aspect in the fisher communities. Fishers often call fishing a caste-driven livelihood. This system is the key to their traditional fisheries governance/management. This means, the caste system defines the type of fishing whether it is lagoon or sea, arrangements of the fishing operations (fishing zones), etc. Therefore, caste is a major factor that drives or constrains livelihood choices of fishers. 3. Traditional knowledge and expertise of fisher communities on how they make livelihood choices in terms of diversification and enhancement of fishing livelihoods were simply overlooked. The concept of “developing non- fishing livelihoods” through diversification and enhancement was presented as a brand new concept invented by the development community. Interestingly, fishers do have their own ways of diversifying or enhancing their livelihoods using traditional knowledge. One good example for vertical diversification may be the migration for fishing in other areas in the face of seasonality, working as crew members in beach seine fishery, etc. 4. Often, income generation programs have been driven by the interests of donors or implementers. Fishers were merely supposed to choose one livelihood option or the other from a predetermined list. They had been only considered as “recipients”, so their interests, needs, aspirations, well-being objectives, incentives, etc. have never been understood. 5. How the word “non-fishing livelihoods” had been introduced or explained had given a sense of “moving out of fishery”. This was a constraint to the continuation of introduced livelihoods. Fishery means everything for a small scale fisher living in a fisheries community. This includes their social processes, way of life, power structures, customs/beliefs, traditions, etc. When they get the idea of being forced out of fishery, they consider this as a threat not as an opportunity. 6. Failure to understand the strength of community led governance systems. Usually, there are community based fisheries governance systems in place, which are the key deciding factors behind livelihood choices in a fisher community. Such systems have been the facilitator/negotiator/representative between service providers, government stakeholders, privet sector organizations and fisher communities. Our findings show, these systems work as a shield to protect the identity of small scale fishery in many locations.4. Participatory Market Chain Analysis approach to“non- fishing/alternative livelihoods”4.1 What is it?Having said that, would there be a mechanism to tackle these issues and build on sustainable non fishing livelihoods? Thishas been the research question of the fisheries project of Practical Action. The project practiced the “ParticipatoryMarket Chain Analysis Tool” to identify the market system of each location to identify the broader picture of thelagoon/coastal fisheries sub-sectors. Practicing this tool with the fisher communities, other stakeholders such as thegovernment, non-government, private sector and other market actors provided information on the complexities, issues,roles, challenges and functions of each sub-sector. These findings paved the way for developing non fishing livelihoodsfor fisher communities.Participatory Market Chain Analysis is a tool that is practiced with all the key market actors in a particular sub-sector.This approach draws the picture of market systems involving small-scale producers and the value chain together withthe support services and the enabling environment affecting the chain. Figure 1.0 showsthe participatory analyzedmarket map of small scale Panama lagoon fishers (2007). The market map serves two purposes. On one hand, it is aframe-work that conceptualizes the entire commercial and institutional environment in which rural producers operate,and on the other hand it is a practical tool for the market facilitators to develop and visually represent and clearlycommunicate this to different actors/players/stakeholders. In essence there are three areas in the market map, namely: 1. Enabling Environment This section shows the influencers on the Market Chain; they are to name a few, required infrastructure, policies, regulatory frameworks, institutions, processes, Acts/Bills etc. 4
  5. 5. Unpublished – draft paper 2. Market Chain (Different actors and their linkages) The market chain shows the key market players/actors who own a product as it moves from primary producers to consumers 3. Business Service providers The supports are the service providers (business and extension services) that support the market chain operationFor further information please refer to; How it develops “non-fishing livelihood”?Participatory Market Chain analysis is carried out in three key steps, which in practice would be required to do morethan three times. The number of frequency this has to be done would depend on different factors such as complexity ofmarket systems, availability of market actors, facilitation skills of the market facilitator etc. The three key steps are: 1. Preliminary mapping in which an outline Market Map is produced by gathering information from key informants available (often the most interested group) 2. Participatory market system analysis in which specific actors in the market system itself are brought together to elaborate the Market Map, explore key issues in detail and build relationships 3. Moving from analysis to action in which the relationships, knowledge and trust generated above is used to effect changes in the business environment and access to servicesThis exercise was carried out in all lagoon and coastal locations in which the project worked. Practicing this tool providedinformation and a basis for developing “community based fisheries co-governance” for the ecosystems and“sustainable non-fishing livelihood initiatives”. Since this is a livelihood specific tool, the information provided weremainly from the perspective of livelihoods and small scale fisheries sub-sector.To explain the process and the way how non-fishing livelihoods were introduced, the Figure 1.0, Market Map in Panamalagoon fishery is used hereafter. This market chain analysis was practiced with the key actors for a period of threemonths. The three steps required doing this 8 timesformally, attended by all the key stakeholders. Doing the first draftof map was quite a challenge with fisher communities, but once that was done, it was a very exciting analysis and amonitoring tool for them, as the gap areas became very clear. Therefore, in the action planning process, it soon becameclear that the issues / gap areas in both Enabling environment and Business Service providers can be viewed asopportunities for improvement, in particular the service provision requirements. Figure 1.0 market map shows 6 serviceprovision requirements that need to be fulfilled for the fish market chain of Panama lagoon fishery to functioneffectively. When these service provisions were further analyzed with the market actors, it turned out that a lot of non-fishing livelihood options could emerge from them. In other words, the gaps and issues in the service provision becameopportunities for possible non-fishing livelihoods. The identified non fishing livelihoods under each serviceprovisions/inputs are as follows:Credit facilities Accountant/Book keeper for the cooperative; the fisheries cooperative did not have the capacity to run the micro credit program effectively, largely due to the lack of technical skills. A number of people had been hired but had not done a good job. Yet, the cooperative had substantial financial resource to continue the program.Raw material suppliers Ice suppliers (ice plant owners); this service was a major drawback, had to be transported from 100 km away, which was also not sufficient. Fuel Sellers Salt suppliers 5
  6. 6. Unpublished – draft paper Water suppliers Ice box providers Wood carpenters Fishing gear/accessories sellers Freezer truck operatorsSkill labor Ice plant workers Peeling workers Fiber glass boat makers Welders/Tinkers Fish Graders Net menders Electricians/Battery repairers Engine mechanics Barefoot Accountants, a job of highly demand for fishers. Because most fishers were illiterate. Basket weavers and sellers Auctioneers:the need for auctioneers from the village itself was highlighted, because the ones they had was not doing a regular/continuous job. Panama being 117 km away from the main city, the hired auctioneers’ participation was significantly poor.These business service related livelihoods were the major requirements that needed to be addressed in Panama lagoonfishery market chain. These livelihoods are not related to “fishing activity”, rather the fish market chain. Therefore, theproject initiated and facilitated the development of these “non-fishing livelihoods” for the small scale fisher communityof Panama and other project locationsin place of “newly introduced livelihoods”. The project did not initiate all of theabove but a selected few, such as, fiber glass boat building, net mending, building technical capacity of FisheriesCooperative, fish processing (dry fish making), engine mechanics and freezer truck operating. The requirement for therest was stressed and highlighted in development committee/coordination meetings in order that other developmentorganizations could take up. Accordingly, some organizations initiateddeveloping the rest of identified non fishinglivelihoods.4.3 Why is it sustainable?Our findings and evaluations carried out during the latter part of the year 2010 show that fisher communities show a lotof interest in getting into these livelihoods compared to newlyintroduced ones. Some on their own invested further inthese livelihoods to improve their business services. This paper will not deal with success stories of these livelihoods. Butas an average, continuation of these types of livelihoods is about 73% in the locations that the project worked. Thereare, of course, some clear reasons as to why fishers continue these livelihoods, which were the findings of oneevaluation carried out in 2010. These are as follows: Within their social (social security, known power structures) and economic environment;as it suggests in the market map, these service related livelihoods are within their known social systems, which includes their caste system, traditions, beliefs, power structures and most importantly their social security and identity. Building on their traditional knowledge;since these livelihoods revolve around their fish chain, their traditional knowledge on the fisheries sector is a plus point. So their confidence in taking up these livelihoods is more when compared with other introduced livelihoods and requires less mobilization or facilitation on the part of development workers. Runs in their traditional village/lagoon governance systems; because these services related livelihoods are operated within their traditional governance systems, the necessary support and guidance are at hand from their traditional leaders. Traditional leadership in small fisher communities is very strong and these play a key 6
  7. 7. Unpublished – draft paper role in the key milestones of their way of life (at marriage, child birth, etc.) Livelihood improvement and sub-sector growth mutually contribute to each other; Growth provides more opportunities; as these two mutually contribute to each other, the growth of the market system provides more opportunities. For example, with growth of market system in Panama, some fishers bought two more freezer trucks providing more opportunities to “freezer truck operators (not drivers)”. Facilitate the growth of sub-sector as an industry; most importantly strengthening the fish market chain providing livelihood opportunities within the system facilitates the growth of the traditional small scale fishery sub-sector as an industry (from a holistic perspective). Collective efforts of the small scale fisher communities in their known market system lead to overall development of their community. A mechanism to curb on over–exploitation with less conflicts;this approach turns out to be a way to reduce excessive fishing pressure on the aquatic resources through diverting new entries into other possible avenues of fish market chain. Limiting the fishing effort helps run the fisheries management system in the lagoon with less conflicts. Small scale fishers also enjoy a good catch of fish all-round the year. Seasonality in fishing is no longer an issue, due to effective management practices.5. References Alubu, Mike and Alison Griffith, 2006.Mapping the Market: A framework for rural enterprises development policy and practice. Amarasinghe, Oscar, 2009. Building Sustainable Governance: Dealing with issues of rule breaking and conflicts in marine small-scale fisheries of south Sri Lanka-applying wellbeing and interactive governance. EJF.2003. Smash & Grab: Conflict, Corruption and Human Rights Abuses in the Shrimp Farming Industry. Environmental Justice Foundation, London, UK. Griffith, Alison and Luis Ernestor Osorio, 2008. Participatory Market system Development: Best practices in implementation of value chain development. Kekulandara, Kamal, 2007. Action plan for Panama Lagoon fisheries governance; a report prepared by Practical Action fisheries project. Salagrama,Venkatesh and ThaddeuesKoriya, 2008. Assessing Opportunities for Livelihood Enhancement and Diversification in Coastal Fishing Communities of Southern India. 7
  8. 8. Unpublished – draft paperFigure 1.0, Market Map of Panama Lagoon fishery, Sri LankaEnabling environment Inefficiency in local Traditional Lack of support Lack of fisheries Illegal fishing and Damages to the government regulatory (caste) from line management poaching ecosystem systems government org.Key Market Actors Cast net Village Exporters City/local fishers Large scale Middle men Consumers consumers traders Gill net Fisheries Colombo Food cities fishers Society fish market Local International markets consumers4 Prawn fish Dry fish collectors makers City Markets Export Packaging Market Processers5 Line companies Tourist &Hookfisher Hotels sInput/Services Storage Raw material Training Fish Skilled labor Auctioneers Credit facilities Processing facilities suppliers4 Prawn fish collectors are those fishers (often fisher women) who catch prawns/shrimps by hand5 Line and Hook fishers are called “Hull Panna” fishers in traditional terms 8