Practical Action’s fisheries project provides some good case-studies on developing non-fishing livelihoods. This one concerns the fishing community at Koggala lagoon in the Galle district of Sri Lanka.
The project introduced an ecosystem management mechanism with the fishermen and women in Koggala lagoon. Developing alternative (non-fishing) livelihoods was part of the work.The project team used market chain analysis along with other livelihood assessment tools to identity possible options for the community fishing in the lagoon.
One of the gaps highlighted in the market chain analysis was net mending. This has to be done every other day after fishing trips. Women in the community, who were part of the livelihood assessment exercises, requested training in net mending. It was high on their list of alternative livelihoods.Other options were available that would generate more income but they were not considered as important.
As a result, the project provided training for women on net mending and net making. Subsequently all twenty of the trainees began to mend and make nets at home, both for their own families and for others. The women who were not trained brought their husbands’ fishing nets to the trained net menders for repair.
After a few months of observation, the project team decided to find out why the women had chosen net mending as their alternative livelihood. A post- training evaluation was carried out with the 20 trained women, which led to a discussion with about the factors that influenced them to choose this training.
It emerged that the reason was that the women wanted their husbands to stay at home after fishing trips. Often, when fishermen returned from fishing in the lagoon, they went away to get their nets mended. While their nets were being mended the fishermen spent their time drinking, resulting in them spending all money they had earned from fishing! If the women were able to mend the nets at home, they could (strategically!) put an end to their husbands’ destructive habit. This was further supported by other women who did not undertake the training, but who were now able to bring their husband’s nets to be mended locally.
The evaluation of the training also covered women around the lagoon who had not been training. This revealed that many families had managed to save money by minimizing the incidents of fishermen’s heavy drinking. Indirectly, this has also reduced the number of social conflicts in the fishing villages.
To find out more about “alternative livelihoods” for small scale fishing communities, please follow this link to the full paper - “Developing non fishing livelihoods for small scale coastal communities”.