This year's report contains the Director General's and Chairman's statements. Also highlighted in the reports, are stories of projects with different partners: 1) CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS) in Zambia. 2) Wetland Alliance project in the Mekong delta. 3) Projects with CARE, the humanitarian organisation in Egypt. 4) Tilapia breeding program with Water Research Institute (WRI) in Ghana. 5) Partnerships with the private sector on sustainable aquaculture enterprise in developing countries.
Lake Victoria fisheries face severe environmental stresses. Stocks are declining in a context of increasing population and growing demand for the lake’s resources. Rising competition between users is putting conservation goals and rural livelihoods at risk. While Uganda’s co-management policy framework is well-developed, key resources for implementation are lacking, enforcement is poor, and the relations between stakeholders are unequal. Poor rural resource users face significant challenges to effectively participate in fisheries decision-making.
Conflict over environmental resources endangers rural people’s livelihoods and can increase the risk of broader social conflict. Yet action to sustain shared resources can also be a potent source of community building. Investing in capacities for conflict management can help launch innovations that build resilient rural livelihoods and strengthen institutions for equitable environmental governance. Governments and development agencies should invest in such capacity and integrate collaborative dialogue about environmental resources into program and policy implementation.
Cambodia’s recent freshwater fishery sector reform, instigated at the top level of government, is one of the country’s most significant contemporary policy developments addressing natural resources management and rural development. Implemented in two main waves, the reforms culminated in the complete removal of inland commercial fishing lots. Yet serious problems still need to be addressed, including reportedly widespread illegal fishing, difficulties in protecting critical habitats, and competition among state agencies over resource management authority.
Natural resource management is closely linked to conflict management, prevention and resolution. Managing natural resources involves reconciling diverging interests that often lead to conflict, which can undermine management institutions and lead to exploitation, environmental destruction and deteriorating livelihoods. If conflicts turn violent, they can rip apart the entire fabric of society. Thus, managing conflicts in a peaceful manner is decisive not only for successful and sustainable resource management but for societal stability in general.
Conflict management is an intrinsic element of natural resource management, and becomes increasingly important amid growing pressure on natural resources from local uses, as well as from external drivers such as climate change and international investment. If policymakers and practitioners aim to truly improve livelihood resilience and reduce vulnerabilities of poor rural households, issues of resource competition and conflict management cannot be ignored.
In many countries, resource conflict is a leading risk to livelihoods. For some communities, it is a matter of survival. Yet, many development interventions aiming to address these challenges fail or fall far short of their potential. Common reasons include conflicting agendas, power and politics; poor local commitment and leadership; lack of coordination; plus high costs and low sustainability, as programs often unravel when development finance ends.
Nearly 500 million people in the developing world depend on aquatic agricultural systems for their livelihoods, with 140 million of these people living in poverty. Occurring along freshwater floodplains and coastal deltas, aquatic agricultural systems are highly productive farming and fishing systems that provide multiple opportunities for growing or harvesting food and generating income.
In the developing world, more than 1 billion people depend on fish for most of their animal protein, and another 1 billion people depend on livestock. Poor people, especially women and children, typically eat very little meat, milk and fish. This contributes to nutrient deficiencies and poor physical and cognitive development for children and poor health and livelihood outcomes for adults.
The CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS) has developed its Gender Research in Development Strategy centered on a transformative approach. Translating this strategy into actual research and development practice poses a considerable challenge, as not much (documented) experience exists in the agricultural sector to draw on, and significant innovation is required. A process of transformative change requires reflecting on multiple facets and dimensions simultaneously.