Traditional management systems, poverty and change in the arid zone fisheries of northern Nigeria

This paper, basd on fieldwork results, explores traditional mangement systems (TMS) in the arid zone fisheries of north-eastern Nigeria with particular reference to their impact on rural poverty. The first section provides a historical background by tracing the evolution of the TMS since the ninettenth century, with reference to government policy on fisheries management and poverty alleviation. The second gives an overview of TMS, including definitions, distribution, principal objectives, regulatory mechanisms and the impact of TMS on the performance of the fisheries and on the livelihoods of rural people. The third considers the perceptions and attitudes of fishing communities with regards to the fisheries and TMS. The paper concludes, paradoxially, that while TMS provide a basis for the sustainable livelihoods of many fishing people, they also reflect and enforce the social positions of the rich and powerful members of society who oversee them, at the expense of the poor. In the future, poverty alleviation in fisheries will need to incorporate both sectoral and non-sectoral strategies - dealing with the existing 'paradox of TMS' by encouraging appropriate institutional changes and community development, and recognizing the importance of employment creation in other sectors of the economy as a source of alternative income.


Neiland, A.R., Madakan, S.P., Béné, C. (2005)
Journal of Agrarian Change 5(1): 117-148.