Marine resources & livelihoods

Fishing on Lake Kosi in St Lucia, South Africa

Some 30 million people live in the coastal region of the Western Indian Ocean, many highly dependent on its marine resources and having a significant impact on resource status. A majority of these coastal communities are categorized as living at or below national poverty lines. Over-fishing and destructive fishing techniques that cause habitat destruction, coupled with a rising population are of increasing concern in Eastern Africa.

These unsustainable practices are embedded in poverty and continue because poverty reduction strategies tend to neglect the importance of natural resources in peoples’ livelihoods. In addition, coastal communities remain disempowered in terms of having any ownership of these common pool resources. Reduction of poverty through sustainable livelihood development, which in turn helps maintain biodiversity and improve conservation strategies, is a pressing theme that requires careful analysis, community consultation, and integration of cross-sectoral planning and management.

Within this project a number of community lessons learning workshops were conducted in Tanzania and Kenya. Community representatives discussed some of the challenges they face and put forward a number of recommendations and captured their discussions in small leaflets that have been published. Many recommendations relate to improved governance processes and involvement in decision-making to improve their livelihoods and better protect the environment. The workshops were supported by findings of two studies conducted in Kiunga in Kenya and Tanga in Tanzania.

Following up on the recommendations and findings of the above, a policy process analysis study is currently being carried out together with the participatory development of a livelihood strategy for coastal communities in Tanzania. Together with the recommendations of the above these will the basis for facilitating a community-policy dialogue (e.g. in the form of an MP tour) towards the end of the project.