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A critical look at livelihood diversification
Thursday, 2022/06/23 | 08:15:29

WorldFish News; June 15 2022


Livelihood diversification is often touted as an all-encompassing solution to sustainable development. However, despite large-scale promotion and investment in this strategy, evidence of impacts from diversification processes remains scarce. To better guide future policies and interventions, evidence must be gathered and assessed on current livelihood diversification projects and their realized impacts. 


In terms of aquatic food systems, livelihood diversification processes typically seek to enable fishers, fish farmers and fish workers to earn a livelihood both within the fisheries sector and outside of it. For example, this could mean fishers raising chickens during seasonal fishing bans in Bangladesh, or women fish workers taking up sewing as a supplementary income-generating activity.  


However, a new research publication conducted a literature review of papers that explored livelihood diversification in small-scale fisheries and found the results to be more ambiguous than expected.  


While more diverse livelihoods are generally assumed to reduce fishing pressure and fish workers’ vulnerabilities by offering supplemental income sources, this prevailing theory was not evidenced in the literature.  


Studies describing diversified livelihoods were more likely to report that livelihoods were either unimproved or had mixed outcomes (54 percent aggregated) than they were to report improved livelihood outcomes (45 percent).  


The review also found that the majority of papers failed to consider environmental conservation outcomes, which is one of the main theoretical drivers behind the push for livelihood diversification. 


“We need to be more rigorous in the evaluation of the impacts of livelihood diversification projects, in order to determine what works and what doesn’t and better pursue more effective routes towards poverty eradication and sustainability,” said Hampus Eriksson, the paper’s co-author and interim lead for WorldFish at the Solomon Islands. 


See more: https://www.worldfishcenter.org/blog/critical-look-livelihood-diversification


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