It is the time of year to reflect on and celebrate the year’s achievements. For WorldFish, it’s been an exceptional year. Increased investment by our donors has allowed us to broaden and deepen our engagement with communities on the ground and our research and development partners. Most importantly, increased investment has increased our impact.
To give you a sense of our achievements and the range of work we do, our Annual Report this year focuses on three stories: the success of aquaculture in Egypt, improved livelihoods in Bangladesh, and conflict and collaboration over natural resources in Zambia, Cambodia and Uganda.
With so much happening at WorldFish, it seems unfair to highlight these few examples, but, in our information-saturated world, brevity is usually welcome. I hope that by keeping it short you are encouraged to read more and be inspired by the potential of fisheries and aquaculture to reduce poverty and increase food.
Indisputably, China is a major global influencer. Like many other sectors, the current and future dynamics of fisheries and aquaculture are significantly affected by what happens in the country. China’s share of the world’s fish production rose from 6% in 1980 to 35% in 2012. It is also now the world’s top exporter of fish, with 30% of the global export market, and the third largest importer after the United States and Japan. Fish consumption in China has also increased dramatically, from about 5kg/person/year in 1980 to about 35kg in 2010 1.
Dried sardines, Olingan, Dipolog City, Philippines, prior to Yolanda.
I was in the Philippines a day after Yolanda struck working with both staff members and our Board. Our Philippines-based staff gave a presentation about how communities in Leyte, Bohol, and Cebu had identified options for improving their livelihoods and increasing their food security as part of the CGIAR Aquatic Agricultural Systems program. In a somber moment, we all realized that not one of the houses we had seen in the presentation was still standing and, most likely, some of the people we were working with had died.
Fisher boat in Haor, Bangladesh. Photo by Balaram Mahalder, 2010.
The Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations has just released a fascinating report entitled “Now for the Long Term“. The report asks: how we can avoid future crises and overcome our inability to address big challenges that will shape our world?
A key recommendation in the report is to make more use of boundary spanning multi-stakeholder coalitions, often called Global Action Networks or GANs, to try and deal with specific problems. I whole-heartedly agree.
Dave Mills, a senior researcher at WorldFish, was describing the outcomes of a project on governance reform with small-scale fishers in Ghana. This project had empowered women in the community by working to build confidence, capacity, and vision among women to engage in decision-making and by helping challenge underlying and oppressive attitudes towards them. Dave recounted how, at a project review meeting, the village chief proudly exclaimed “What have you done with these women – they have changed!” He was delighted they were now active in decision-making and that he now knew what women needed and wanted in his community.