Assessing the impact of fisheries co-management interventions in developing countries
Finding out whether the work we and others do really does reduce poverty and hunger as we think it will is essential to guide future efforts. Unless we formally assess and quantify development impact we will miss opportunities to improve and development will be slower. But measuring impact is hard, and rigorous studies are rare. This is especially true in areas such as fisheries management as a recent study by Louisa Evans, Nia Cherret and Diemuth Pemsl on the impacts of Community Based Fisheries Management (CBFM) shows. After looking at 204 published studies, only 29 proved suitable for further analysis. And while Louisa and her co-workers were able to show clearly from these studies that CBFM arrangements usually improve the quality of the management process, results for expected benefits for the poor, such as increased household income or fish stock well-being, were much more equivocal. This doesn't mean that CBFM approaches don't work, but it does mean that WorldFish researchers and others will need to work alongside development practitioners to gather much more rigorous data in future so that we properly document the outcomes and impacts of our efforts and learn the lessons from it.