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Promoting the Contribution of the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach and the Code of
Conduct for Responsible Fisheries in Poverty Alleviation


Combating and eradicating poverty is one of the principal priorities of the international
community. The 1995 UN World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen 6-12 March 1995)
expressed the commitment to this goal as an ethical, social, political and economic imperative of
humankind. The UN Millennium Declaration adopted by the fifty-fourth session of the General
Assembly, New York, September 2000, contains the commitment to halve, by the year 2015, the
proportion of the world's population whose income is less than one dollar a day and the
proportion of people who suffer from hunger. The 1996 Rome Declaration on World Food Security
pledged political will and common and national commitment by governments to achieving food
security for all and to reducing the number of undernourished people to half their present level no
later than 2015.

The measurement of poverty, the identification of the poor and their characteristics, and the best
policies and actions to alleviate poverty have also received wide academic research interest in
recent years and have been the main thematic subject of the latest World Development Report
(World Bank, 2000).

Currently, the normative areas of work by the Fisheries Department (FI) do not explicitly address
poverty in fisheries. Poor people are addressed implicitly in the Code of Conduct of Responsible
Fisheries as members of small-scale fishing communities or artisanal fishers who should be
rendered with special protection and assistance. Article 6.18 on General Principles, for example,
recognizes the important contributions of artisanal and small-scale fisheries to employment,
income and food security and calls on States to "appropriately protect the rights of fishers and
fishworkers, particularly those engaged in subsistence, small-scale and artisanal fisheries, to a secure
and just livelihood, as well as preferential access, where appropriate, to traditional fishing grounds
and resources in the waters under their national jurisdiction." Similarly, Article 9.1.4 on
Aquaculture Development calls on States to "ensure that the livelihoods of local communities and
their access to fishing grounds are not negatively affected by aquaculture developments". In the
same vein, Article 10.13 on Integration of Fisheries into Coastal Area Management asks States,
when governing access to coastal resources, to take into account "the rights of coastal fishing
communities and their customary practices to the extent compatible with sustainable development."
As regards FI's field programme activities, the UK-financed five-year, US$34 million. Sustainable
Fisheries Livelihoods Programme (SFLP) targets approximately 5 million people in the 25
participating countries of Sub-Saharan Africa who are directly employed in artisanal fisheries.
SFLP seeks to promote the sustainable use of fisheries resources and the importance of fisheries
for poor, artisanal fishers, fish-processors and traders, most of whom are women. Many of the
target groups of the SFLP are believed to be poor but there are few in-depth studies on the nature,
extent and causes of poverty in the fishing communities of West Africa.

The dearth of in-depth studies on poverty in fisheries was also noted by FAO's Advisory
Committee on Fisheries Research (ACFR) which suggested at its 3rd Session (Rome, 5-8 December
2000) that research was necessary to obtain a more detailed, nuanced understanding of the
various types and shapes of poverty in fisheries.

Recently, in cooperation with CEMARE and FAO HQs, SFLP has conducted a regional workshop
with the following objectives:

 to provide an overview of current understanding of poverty and poverty alleviation in rural

Africa with particular reference to the SLA;
 to highlight the relationship between fisheries management and poverty in fisheries, and
the role of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries;
 to identify the possibility of poverty alleviation in fisheries through policy action at
different levels of society including institutional development, appropriate stakeholder
participation and the designation of property rights and responsibilities;
 to contribute to the work of the SFLP through the identification of opportunities and
possible policy interventions for poverty alleviation in West Africa.

Some of the key findings of this workshop include the following:

 poverty in small-scale fishing communities is a multi-dimensional phenomenon and cannot
be exclusively, or even primarily, be attributed to endogenous factors within the fisheries
sector such as overfishing or excess fishing capacity;
 in comparison to rural agriculture and urban poverty, there are few detailed assessments
of the nature, extent and causes of poverty in fishing communities in most countries of the
 policies for the alleviation of poverty in fishing communities need to be multi-facetted and
the SLA provides a good entry point to identifying the critical causes of poverty and
measures to alleviate poverty;
 the better integration of the fisheries sector within national poverty reduction strategies is
 the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, properly adapted to the specific
characteristics of West African fisheries, provides a good basis for addressing endogenous
causes of poverty in fishing communities, and for enhancing the contribution of the
fisheries sector to national poverty alleviation.


The project seeks to achieve three principal objectives as follows:

1. to strengthen FAO's normative work programme in support of member countries' efforts to

alleviate poverty in fishing communities and to enhance the contribution of the fisheries
sector in national poverty reduction strategies and programmes;
2. to strengthen FAO's field programme's impact on poverty alleviation in small-scale
fisheries by increasing the understanding of the nature, extent and causes of poverty in
fishing communities, developing and adapting appropriate poverty assessment and
profiling methodologies, elaborating guidance for the better integration of small-scale and
artisanal fisheries in national poverty reduction strategies, promoting the SLA in fisheries
sector and national policy-making, and disseminating related experiences from pilot
studies and projects;
3. to increase global awareness on poverty in small-scale and artisanal fisheries and on
poverty alleviation strategies and measures.

Expected Outputs

The three immediate outputs expected from the project are:

1. as part of FAO's guidelines series, technical guidelines on the contribution of the Code of
Conduct of Responsible Fisheries to poverty alleviation;
2. as part of FAO's technical paper series, a Fisheries Technical Paper on Fisheries and
3. Combating Poverty in Fishing Communities and Enhancing the Role of Fisheries in National
Poverty Reduction Strategies and Programmes;
4. two seminars on the topic to exchange experiences and raise awareness within FAO.

The indirect outputs expected from the project are the dissemination and promotion of the use of
the guidelines and technical paper in awareness raising and educational workshops, consultation
and conferences, by government agencies and NGOs, and in the normative and field work of FAO
and other multilateral and bilateral agencies including development banks.

Inputs and Work Plan

The project will draw widely on expertise and experience of poverty-related work in small-scale
and artisanal fishing communities of developing countries, and including inland water fisheries as
well as broader studies on poverty in rural areas. Special attention will be given to work
undertaken within the framework of the sustainable livelihoods approach, in particular by the
SFLP but drawing also upon work in other regions including South and Southeast Asia, East Africa
and South America. The project will be implemented in close collaboration between SFLP and
various units of FAO HQs.

The contribution of FAO HQs will include in-kind staff contribution and part of the printing and
translation costs of the two immediate outputs. FAO HQs will also contribute towards the
compilation of experiences from other regions. SFLP will contribute in-kind staff time as well as
cover costs of consultants and field studies as well as part of the publication and translation costs.
A core working group will be established to oversee and provide guidance in project
implementation. It will comprise staff of PCU, RCU and FIP, and progressively of other FAO units.
The total project period will be 3 years. The envisaged outputs are expected to be produced
according to the following time plan:

End of first Detailed annotated outline of Code guidelines
Middle of Publishing of Code guidelines in English
second year:
End of second Publishing of Code guidelines in French and Spanish.
Seminars Two seminars will be organized at FAO HQs at the end of the first and second
project year to raise awareness, exchange experiences and expertise, and provide
critical reviews of intermediate project outputs. The seminar participants will
comprise FAO staff, core working group members and selected resource persons.
End of first Background studies initiated and/or completed on: (1) analyses of whether, why,
year: and to what extent the fisheries sector was considered in the development of
poverty reduction strategies in selected countries; (2) adaptation and testing of
poverty assessment and profiling methodologies to small-scale fisheries; (3)
compiling and analysing the experience with the SLA as entry point for poverty
alleviation both in rural sectors.
Middle of Detailed annotated outline of Fisheries Technical Paper
second year:
End of second Completion of all background studies.
Middle of First draft of Fisheries Technical Paper ready for peer review.
third year:
End of third Publishing of Fisheries Technical Paper in English (followed by the French and
year: Spanish versions in subsequent months).
Project progress will be reviewed and assessed as part of the joint annual reviews and mid-term
review of SFLP.

Submitted by:

Jessa Cachola

Submitted to:

Ronalyn Togas