Focusing small-scale aquaculture and aquatic resource management on poverty alleviation

This report provides a background to the issues of focusing aquaculture on poverty alleviation based on the conclusions of an FAO/NACA Expert Consultation which was organised in order to provide field-level professionals in Asia with a unique opportunity to come together to share experience on working in the field of poverty alleviation and aquaculture, and to prepare a platform for future networking.

Living aquatic resources play a fundamental role in sustaining the livelihoods of many of the rural poor in Asia; providing crucial buffers to shock, food security and opportunities for diverse and flexible forms of income generation. In many cases, the poorer people are, the more dependent they are on aquatic resources, particularly low value fish and non-fish aquatic resources. Women often play important roles in aquatic resource use and management, and aquaculture interventions may have particular benefits for women.

Small-scale aquaculture and aquatic resource management hold considerable potential to contribute to poverty alleviation. In order to realise this potential, poverty alleviation should be taken as the strategic starting point for aquaculture interventions. This has significant implications for how interventions are conceptualised, planned and executed, and the institutional arrangements. Distinctions between aquaculture and the management of living aquatic resources are often artificial and devalue the flexible and often complex relationships between aquatic resources the livelihoods of the rural poor.

As with any production-based intervention, the poorest groups face significant constraints to entry into aquaculture. Opportunities do exist to overcome these constraints, and aquaculture offers many opportunities for livelihood benefits that other sectors do not offer. Aquaculture technologies appropriate for poor people are now largely in place. The greater emphasis is on more effective extension of low-cost technologies, appropriate management practices to poor people and securing rights of access and control, rather than technical research.

Understanding the context of poor people’s livelihoods is essential. Effective poverty alleviation requires assessment of poor people’s needs and identification of opportunities that allow for entry by poor people into aquaculture production and related activities. This in turn requires more sophisticated yet workable understandings of poor people’s livelihoods and the causes and characteristics of poverty. A prerequisite for this approach is greater participation by poor people, together with innovative institutional arrangements and partnerships between governments, NGOs, civil society groups, poor people and donors.


Publisher: FAO / NACA

Rights: Creative Commons Attribution.


Workshop and conference proceedings

NACA frequently organises technical workshops and consultations on aspects of aquaculture. The proceedings of such meetings are made available for free download. Audio and video recordings of technical presentations are also available for some meetings (please see the podcast section).