Much effort has been made to build sustainable governance for fisheries. However, fisheries resources are still in grave peril, consequently, the livelihoods of fishers are negatively affected.
Governing common pool resources continues to be a challenge and thus far has proved a failure and a disappointment. Some argue that “the solution” for governing common pool resources is privatization. Of them, fisheries are a much talked about subject.
Contrary to this view, small scale fishers in some places have demonstrated their capacity to govern fishery resources responsibly and sustainably. Despite the fact that much literature has been documented on how fisheries governance works at local, household and community levels, today governments, development workers, researchers and scientists are struggling to build sustainable fisheries governance. It is obvious something is amiss. What is it? Does it have something to with the activity of building governance or lack of understanding of the factors that underpin the sustainability of governance systems? Given this, it is imperative that we look at the factors that have contributed to long standing self-governance systems in fisheries in order to explore the potential and conditions for these local institutions to sustain governance functions for extended periods. The following case is from Sri Lankan lagoon, which tells us about a traditional fisheries self-governance system that has existed for generations.
Chilaw lagoon is located along the North Western coast of Sri Lanka. It is believed that Chilaw’s traditional Stake-net (“Kattu Del”) fishery originated between 1460 -1464 and it continues to date. More than 500 fisher families in Chilaw lagoon are totally dependent on stake-net fishery. This system was first registered by a Gazette notification in 1936 and with subsequent amendments re-Gazetted in 1986 and 1996 respectively.
Stake-net fishery is a self-governance system, not a just a community-based fisheries management system. Why is this called a governance system? While the term management has reference to action related to activities, the term governance implies direction-driven management and decision making. And, the self-governance system adds dimensions that are absent in fisheries management. This governance system is built on the social, ethical and religious values of the fisher community. Environmental conservation is a primary concern. The stake-net fishing is carried out according to the cycle of the moon. On full moon days, fishers experience best fish catch and they operate all the stake-nets assigned to a group whereas in the interim, during the waxing and waning of the moon, they reduce the fishing traps. Most importantly, the fishing traps catch prawns that go out of the lagoon with tide-out. This natural phenomena is largely affected by the appearance of the moon. The values in their governance system are
- Equity ensuring that measures are in place for equal distribution of fish harvesting among the fisher groups
- Environmental sustainability making provision for succeeding generations to continue harvesting fish as a reliable means of livelihood
- Stewardship ensuring that fisher groups maintain Ownership, Responsibility, Accountability and Reward towards governing the lagoon ecosystem. This is transferred from generation to generation.
- Maintaining peace among the groups is managed according to religious values.
- Social well-being is sustained by contributions to the church for social well-being of the community
- Transparency is ensured by decisions that are arrived at collectively and communicated formally and clearly to all concerned.
- Democracy in practice is followed by ensuring that rules and management actions are drafted and adopted based on the consensus of the majority.
- A mutually agreed upon system of Inclusion and exclusion has been adopted to reduce fishing pressure to ensure sustainability
The unique stake-net group’s collaborative use of the Chilaw lagoon’s shrimp resources and its proven resilience is an example that merits emulation. This system of self-governance has endured for four centuries and continues to provide a means of livelihood to eight groups of shrimp fishers. This indicates that similar self-governance systems can be replicated among other lagoon communities in Sri Lanka or elsewhere. This is in contrast with mere management practices that are action oriented but short-lived. Importantly, this shows the critical role played by values and a time-tested governance system to ensure sustainability of lagoon resources and livelihoods of lagoon fishers.
The Sustainable Lagoons and Livelihoods project in Sri Lanka has been working with 18 lagoons to build fisheries governance. Chilaw lagoon is one of them. Through working with Chilaw lagoon fishers, the project identified the local governance system and began to further legally strengthen this self- governance into a decentralized collaborative fisheries governance process with all stakeholders who are representing different decision making levels; collective, operational, policy and constitutional on one interactive platform to make unified decisions on the utilization of the Chilaw lagoon ecosystem. This is driven by their own time-tested values and principles.
This short video describes their system further.
Sustainable Lagoons and Livelihoods Project (SLLP) is funded by Big Lottery Fund, UK and jointly implemented by Practical Action Sri Lanka and Department of Fisheries and Aquatic ResourcesNo Comments » | Add your comment
In the natural resource management arena common pool resources and open access are two aspects that are discussed at length. These topics continue to be challenging to researchers, practitioners, scientists and governments across the world. Sri Lanka is no exception.
These challenges are clearly manifested in the small-scale lagoon fisheries sub-sector in Sri Lanka. About 116 lagoons and estuaries can be found around the island. Around 200,000 people are dependent on these intricate ecosystems for livelihoods. These lagoons and estuaries are very complex social ecological systems, posing different challenges in governing them. Sustainable Lagoons and Livelihoods Project (SLLP) has been jointly working with the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DFAR) to build sustainable governance of 18 lagoons in Sri Lanka. This is a really challenging project which has generated a host of lessons.
As Elinor Ostrom, the Nobel Prize winner in Economics in 2009 expressed it: “Clear property boundaries are a requirement for governing common properties”. This is the first requirement for building sustainable governance for natural resources. This process however, presents formidable challenges.
Often, property boundaries of lagoon ecosystems are established by fixing concrete posts around their perimeters. Past lessons from Sri Lanka show that such physical demarcation of the lagoon ecosystem boundaries does not work, due to relentless illegal encroachments taking place which renders further steps in the process dysfunctional. Landowners around lagoons possess old deeds, containing much ambiguity and lack of specific boundaries. This has been exploited by encroachers. How this happens is an interesting area for study. Often old deeds may include a clause such as; “eastern part of this land goes up to the lagoon”. This clause creates much ambiguity in defining the boundary between land and a lagoon. This ambiguity is used to advantage by encroachers by filling the edges of the lagoon and moving the concrete posts towards the lagoon. This has led to a situation where lagoon water surfaces are increasingly forced to shrink while the surrounding land is illegally extended. Finally, this gives rise to social conflicts among different users of the lagoon ecosystems resulting in small-scale lagoon fishers being victimized.
The SLLP and DFAR began searching for alternatives, and innovatively introduced GPS technology to map-out the lagoon boundary catchment areas. This led to detailed maps being agreed upon for each lagoon for the first time. Because GPS points are indisputable and specific, the lagoons cannot be illegally encroached. Even if the concrete post are moved towards the lagoons, encroachments can be easily identified because established GPS points do not change. The process entails developing detailed maps with GPS points that will be legally declared as Lagoon Management Area. This is formalized by public Gazette notification. Subsequently, the Co-governance committee along with Lagoon Fisheries Management Committees (LFMCs) of a lagoon ecosystem can take legal action against violators in the event of illegal encroachment. This is a major deterrent to encroachers. Furthermore, these maps serve as indicators in the physical mapping of fish species and help as a monitoring tool for all stakeholders who are in the co-governance committee meetings.
The first Gazette notification of this kind has been published for the Kokkilai lagoon. This lagoon spreads into two provinces; northern and eastern in Sri Lanka. Since this involves two different administrative divisions plus different social economic and political contexts, having clear proper boundaries has expedited the fisheries co-governance process, facilitating interactions between different stakeholders to develop a Kokkilai Lagoon governance plan. This process will further be replicated in other lagoons of the SLLP project while doubtlessly providing more lessons to improve demarcation work.
The advantage here is that stakeholders such as fishers, farmers or extension workers can provide information to take legal action against encroachers and keep tabs on whether lagoon ecosystems are encroached by simply using of smart phones. This is an initiative that uses ICT to add value to fisheries governance.No Comments » | Add your comment
Yesterday the Ministry of Agriculture organized a harvest celebration at Girgir dam, in the Kassala area of Sudan. It was led by the general director of the Ministry. Participants attended from the departments responsible for land use, agricultural research, technology transfer and planning as well as the World Food Programme, German Agro Action and the Algandoul network for rural development.
The dam strongly demonstrated its ability to cope with this difficult situation by harvesting water across boundaries and spreading it to farms downstream.
The total area of the land harvested is estimated to be about 800 feddan and the harvesting yield is about 720 kilograms of sorghum per feddan.
The Girgir water harvesting project, located 30 km north of Kassala, was established in 2008. It is designed to irrigate about 1500 feddans of land. Seven villages benefit from the project with a total population of 12,500.
Advantages of the Girgir dam
- It spreads water over 1,500 feddans
- Builds social linkages between farmers
- Collective management of the catchment area
- Harvests trans-boundary water from high land of Erttaria
- Reduces soil erosion and runoff
- Possibility of increasing the amount of irrigated land through water diversion
- Possibility to feed ponds and ground water from the diverted water
- Increased soil moisture in the catchment area which makes it possible to have more than one harvesting season
- Increased fertility of the catchment through accumulation of silt in the catchment area
- Increased diversity of green cover vegetation
Today 16th October is World Food Day, a day to highlight the hunger and suffering millions of people face throughout the world. One of the responses to hunger in recent years has been to turn to science and technology to help boost yields of ‘staple crops’. One such method has been the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). But the use of such seeds is controlled by the companies who ‘make’ them. Recently however, the patents protections on some of the earlier generations of GMOs are starting to expire. (more…)No Comments » | Add your comment
World Food Day and the SDGs: The challenge – no! the opportunity – for agriculture to leave no one behind
Today, 16th October, is World Food Day. A day when we are reminded of the vital importance of agriculture in providing our basic need – food. More importantly, the vital role agriculture plays in providing food security and livelihoods for the majority in developing countries. For me it is a reminder of how, to date, agriculturalists and the international community are still failing to enable the many millions of small-scale farmers to use their efforts, and their resources – the natural environment for which they are in fact our custodians – to develop their agriculture so it is productive, resilient and sustainable. Our understanding of ecology and agricultural systems tells us that sustainable agriculture is possible, but this is not reflected in our research and development efforts to pursue that approach. This injustice is evident from the fact that the 2014, Global Hunger Index concluded that levels of hunger remain “alarming” or “extremely alarming” in 16 countries, and this year’s FAO report on the State Of Food and Agriculture (SOFA, 2015) show that most of the extreme poor and hungry live in rural areas.
Whilst alarming this is not news, and it was therefore with good reason that last month, through the Sustainable Development Goals (the SDGs), the international community properly recognised the vital role of agriculture in combating poverty. Unlike their predecessor, the Millenium Development Goals (the MDGs) in which agriculture was omitted, the SDGs have a specific goal to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030 (Goal 2). And, to achieve that, specific targets to double agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, whilst maintaining the genetic diversity of our food crops and livestock, and delivering a sustainable food system.
With the SDGs the global community has done well to agree meaningful goals and targets for agriculture. However, this is not enough because agriculture is complex, it provides different things to different people, there are many strategies for growth and intensification and there are many interests at stake. For example, at the household level agriculture is important for food security, incomes, identity and jobs. For many it is a safety net – a base from which to rise. As a sector it is important financially and economically – for trade, adding value (processing), technology (inputs and machinery), raw materials for industry (fibres, fuels, oils), investment and growth. Agriculture is also one of the most significant of human activities that impact on the environment. Expanding and polluting agriculture is causing the loss of forests, wetland and marine ecosystems, which is having a negative knock on effect on our climate. There is a tension between food and incomes now, and maintaining our natural resources for future generations.
The Role of Technology
Many people and governments look to science and new technologies for the solution. The green revolution multiplied the yields of major staple crops, but yields are plateauing, soil fertility is declining and land degradation threatens the sustainability of the gains achieved. Despite the dramatic, even transformational, effect of that science, poverty and hunger remain.
Certainly science and technology has a vital role to play but it needs to create accessible, innovative and sustainable solutions. To do this requires research, capacity building and policies that enable farmers to make the most of the assets and knowledge they already have, and to use science to complement and improve their efforts. Agroecology provides an agricultural development pathway to do that. To be relevant, and bring forward, the many millions of smallholder farmers, in particular women, indigenous people, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, so that indeed many fewer are left behind.
Implementation & Measuring Success
Coming back to the SDGs, and the challenge of implementation, the important issue now is to have realistic indicators for monitoring and measuring success, and most importantly, guiding the strategies that governments choose to promoting transformation in agriculture.
There will be a tendency, the sake of easy implementation, measurement and reporting, to simplify the issues. For example, to measure yields and the closing of the so called ‘yield gap’, use of fertiliser or new seeds. As we have seen from the green revolution and the environmental pressures on agriculture in developed countries, such measures do not ensure access, innovation or sustainability. The SGD indicators should rather measure the ability of farmers to adapt and cope with change, and our ability to refocus research and development to improve their capacity, knowledge and skill so they can so they can improve and manage the natural resources they have.
In conclusion, the food insecurity of millions of extreme poor people could be alleviated with agroecological technologies to improve the productivity and resilience of smallholder farmers, rather than investments in technologies for industrial farming.No Comments » | Add your comment
Fatima Adam Ali is a young mother of three children from Majdoub, a village 7km to the west of El-Fashir, the capital of North Darfur State. Fatima and her husband farm a 9.5 feddan plot of land (2.5 feddans of which is fertile), on which they grow a combination of staple cereal crops and cash crops.
This is their primary livelihood with sesame and tobacco being their most consistently profitable crops. In addition, Fatma owns five goats, which she keeps for milk for the household but also for sale in case of a poor crop harvest. In 2014 she had to sell two of her goats as her tobacco crop failed. Through her local women’s community based organisation (CBO), Fatima has participated in several activities as part of the Wadi El Ku Project.
Significantly, she attended a training course in organic compost production and use. Following the training she made 10 sacks of compost which she will use to increase the soil fertility of her farmland. She was also involved in the wadi bank stabilization programme and along with others in her community helped to plant and protect a 3km line of tree seedlings on the severely degraded banks of the wadi. She is responsible for watering seven trees, which she does every Thursday. One tree died, but the rest are thriving.
When she heard that her local women’s community based organisation was providing small revolving funds to exploit local market chain gaps, Fatima immediately applied. Three years ago she started her own small perfume business. She saw this opportunity to access credit as a chance to grow her business. She used the funds to purchase large quantities of basic perfume ingredients such as oils from El Fashir town. She now produces a number of new perfumes, including khumra (the heavily scented signature perfume of married Sudanese women), stocks henna and a variety of incenses and woods used for smoke-baths, and regularly purchases dilka (a dark paste, made from a mixture of sorghum, fragrant oils and spices, which is used as an exfoliant) from her aunt for resale.
As the only person producing and selling perfumes in Magdoub and any of the neighbouring villages, she has had no shortage of customers with many women preferring to buy perfumes locally than having to travel to El Fashir market to purchase ready-made perfumes or to buy the raw materials to produce their own perfumes at home. She makes her perfume at home whenever she has some idle time. She sells her perfumes from her house, with her eldest son helping by delivering orders to neighbours and others in the village. Soon she hopes to set up a stall in the weekly village market. She estimates that in a slow month she makes about 150 SDG profit and in a good month she makes more than 200 SDG.
* An EU funded project, implemented by Practical Action in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), to promote integrated water resource management in North Darfur and to strengthen local livelihoods.1 Comment » | Add your comment
We do not need to smoke, but tobacco producers are millionaires; we do not need to drink wine/carbonated drinks, but those businesses are also making millions. We need rice, vegetables, fish, meat, eggs – these are our daily necessities, but the producers of these commodities… I am sorry I cannot say that they are millionaires. Most of them are poor and are still living below poverty line.
Practical Action has always answered queries in the development sector. Today, around 30 members of the staff from 10 different countries in Practical Answers are now appointed to answer questions.
Practical Answers Bangladesh team has built a Krishi (agriculture) Call Centre with the promise of providing agriculture related information and services in partnership with the Department of Agriculture & Extension under the Ministry of Agriculture.
The journey of Krishi Call Centre started in 2011-12 with the aim to support rural farmers who are living in remote areas of the country. During the test period, we received around 20,000 calls from 18,000 clients through an eleven digit number for farmers to connect the centre and farmers are charged 0.65 BDT/minute. Subsequently, in 2014, the government made the centre toll free (The connection number is 16123 from Bangladesh only) just for 6 months. Thanks to our Ministry of Local Government for that initiative. After that time Government has declared the lowest rate (0.25 BDT/min excluding vat and surcharge) for the farmers. This is indeed a very good initiative.
However, with the help of donors, the centre may not continue its work in the long run. The Government should take it to a revenue model; otherwise it will be very difficult to sustain.
Coming back to what I said at the start, if a farmer gets support from a remote place for his agricultural production, it will be valuable for our economy as well as Gross Domestic Product – GDP. As Bangladesh still relies on agricultural based economy, the government should take the necessary steps to make the Krishi Call Centre sustainable and a successful project.2 Comments » | Add your comment
In August I visited the newly constructed small earth dam in Zamzam area in North Darfur Sudan, one of the key activities of the Wadi Elku rain water harvesting project. While I was there I met Sabury a community leader from Zamzam village and a member of the dam committee, who informed me that last year 600 farmers only managed to cultivate about 800 fedan (just over 800 acres) but this year after construction of the dam more than 3,000 farmers (including displaced people from Zamzam camp) are expected to cultivate 4,000 fedan that will help farmers improve their livelihoods. He also stated that the harvested water irrigated areas which have not received water for more than twenty years and mentioned that there is a close watch kept on the dam, with an assigned person to monitor and report and organise maintenance when required to protect the dam from being swept by water.
What is integrated water resource management?
Other stakeholders from government and UNEP told us that this project is different from previous ones, due to the application of the ‘integrated water resource management’ (IWRM) approach which differs from the normal approach in the followings aspects;
- IWRM ensured that all water users are key participants in water management; this leads to efficient use of water resources and improves water access in equitable manner for all users.
- IWRM ensure that all interventions implemented are environment friendly and hence lead to sustainable water access to all users.
- IWRM takes into account improving the sustainable water access for the current generation without affecting the ability of the future generation to meet their water needs in a sustainable manner.
The key pillars of this project are the water catchment structure, the environmental impact assessment and the water catchment management committee which will be formulated during the exit strategy for close follow up and monitoring.
The effectiveness of Wadi Elku Water Catchment Management structure using the IWRM approach required three levels
- CBOs and networks
- Technical committee, planners and decision makers, to advise on technical aspects
- Water catchment management committee
To implement the IWRM approach perfectly and effectively it needs close follow up and monitoring for the water catchment, even after the completion of the project. This is partially was put in place, especially by community organizations. Raising the voice of community organisations is crucial to delivering sustainability to projects in the region.No Comments » | Add your comment
Rural and agricultural development is integral to any strategy to alleviate poverty and promote broad-based growth. The figures confirm that poverty in Sudan is deeply entrenched and is largely rural, especially considering that traditional subsistence agriculture in rural areas has gradually been replaced by market-based or commercial agriculture. This is due to many factors, including rapid economic growth, introduction of new technologies, market expansion, market liberalization, increased demand for food, decreasing farming population as a result of urbanization and liberalized economic policies.
Working in the field of Communication and Development, I have observed that human resource development is essential for food security and market integration. Achieving sustainable agricultural development is less based on material inputs (e.g. seeds, fertilizers, etc.) than on the people involved in their use. Agricultural extension makes a real contribution and impact in improving the welfare of farmers and other people living in rural areas, thus, I have come to love my focus on Practical Answers interventions for technology justice; such as assisting knowledge and information management and sharing information about agricultural components, as well as using appropriate delivery approaches, channels and tools.
Delivering agricultural extension messages
Agricultural extension is central to sustaining the livelihood of rural communities. Local practitioners, along with paravets, have a fundamental presence in local communities, as they are becoming increasingly valuable and responsible for communicating and providing services and knowledge to their communities.
Practical Action collaborated with the the Technology and Extension Department of the Sudanese Ministry of Agriculture, as well as Civil society organisations like the Al-Gandoul Network for Rural Development, who initiated these interventions in Kassala using multi-communication tools to disseminate and deliver the extensions messages. The objective of the extension messages is to raise awareness in the rural community and adopting good practices in order to contribute to an increase in their production, income, and livestock through carefully selecting potential local Village Extension Agents (VEAs) and local paravets – one woman and one man from each communities (20 communities targeted) – with specific criteria, agreed upon by village community members. Under the supervision of a qualified agriculture extension practitioner, they were trained in identify community needs, developing key extension messages and testing the massages, communication skills, and setting an action plan to be implemented in their communities.
Practical Action broadcast extension messages through various outlets to ensure circulation and coverage. However, the effectiveness of face-to-face and community radio selected as a source of information; the radio became a main media outlet for communicating extension messages articulated using local languages and dialects and the VEAs collected the enquiries and respond to the direct audiences.
- Evident income increase in some families,
- The dedication shown in protecting and nurturing livestock
- The increase in the community’s commitment toward their own development.
I believe that receiving useful and correct information have been a key for success, and radio programs, especially, were a powerful tool for extension because of its wide coverage and contextual relevance.
It is important to note that extension services are organized and delivered in a variety of forms, with the ultimate aim of increasing farmers’ productivity and income. The question then becomes: how can farmers gain access to knowledge, information on improving practices along the value chain to adopt, increase and yield income?
I believe improving agricultural extension delivery in the future of extension messages should provide information along the whole value chain, including marketing extension, farmer empowerment, facilitating formation of self-motivated farmer’s groups, private extension services and environmental extension for sustainability.2 Comments » | Add your comment
One of the greatest challenges facing rural farming communities in Sudan is their limited or non-existent access to agricultural technological innovation or knowledge services.
Clearly, if smallholder farmers are to have a future in a region already under threat from a changing climate, something will have to be done to open up the communities to new ideas and technology.
Practical Action’s Farmer Field School (FFS) approach is designed to address this issue; a show-and-tell method of introducing knowledge through demonstration. The Farmer Field Schools explore novel agricultural and natural resource management (NRM) practice.
In collaboration with the Kassala State Extension and Technology Department, Practical Action designed a training syllabus specifically for rain fed agriculture. Made up of ten sessions, it was designed to be simple, comprehensive and highly specific to local needs, with the end goal of changing farmers’ behaviour to increase and diversify production, improving their food security.
The most positive impact we see of the farmers’ field schools is the empowerment of farmers (especially women farmers) explained the Extension Officer, before farmers were asking for cash, now they are asking for training and support to develop new activities, and of course they are also more food secure now.
Farmer field schools are held on demonstration sites. Groups of 20-25 farmers meet between once a week and once a month to discuss how the demonstration plots are progressing and to receive lessons from a locally trained extension worker. This combination of information exchange and demonstration ensures that the knowledge is accurate, innovative and suited to local needs.
|Um Alhassan, a woman from Kassala, is a member in one of the women’s farm groups.“I grow cucumber, okra, jute leaves and some fruit. The price of fresh okra in the market is 5 SDG and dry okra is 2 SDG. I use it for cooking twice a day, that means I save from 4 to 10 SDG each time during the harvesting period, from okra alone, as well as from other vegetables grown in the farm. Another thing I didn’t expect at the beginning of this farm is the parasitic weeds we use for feeding our animals, which truly helped us in this part generously. I have a big desire to try cultivating potatoes and onions in the coming period of cultivation. We tried seedlings of tomatoes and Aswad(eggplants); we weren’t satisfied with the results, but we’ll try again.”She added; “Not only does cultivating this farms benefits us, but our work together as team shows the true meaning of participation and collaboration.”|
To facilitate impact at scale, the farmer field school approach has been introduced to North Darfur in collaboration with the El Fashir branch of Sudan’s Agricultural Research Corporation.
But the upscaling hasn’t stopped there. Following the FFS organised by Practical Action and community based organisations in Kassala, a number of our partners including the UN’s Food and Agriculture and Industrial Organisations and the Butana Integrated Rural Development Project, have supported FFS in Kassala State and German Agro Action has included it in their staff training sessions.
This is a perfect example of an agricultural knowledge initiative that taken a local success and replicated it to have a positive impact across a nation, creating farming practices that are innovative and future proof.1 Comment » | Add your comment