Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste are small island states sharing two significant characteristics – they are both located in the coral triangle, the world’s most biodiverse marine environment and yet, their populations suffer from malnutrition and high rates of stunted growth in children.

Neither state has kept pace with the development that other low income countries have experienced and both countries remain stuck in the group of least developed countries in the world.

 

A disconnect between policy and local realities

For the poor and vulnerable rural communities who live along Pacific Islands’ coasts, pathways out of poverty are heavily dependent on the productivity and sustainability of coastal social-ecological systems. These systems combine activities that harness the natural productivity of coastal ecosystems with farming and other income earning activities.

A convincing global narrative highlights the significance of sustainable and supplementary livelihoods to accelerate development, whilst encouraging management practices that support ecosystem conservation. Yet despite this, policy falls short of enabling sustainable pathways for development because it lacks the level of detailed knowledge about the local context that is needed for effective action and deployment of the relevant resources.

 

A new approach to enhancing livelihoods

A recurrent criticism of development practice is that it is too often supply driven and dissociated from a real understanding of the integrated lives and difficult choices poor people make. WorldFish initiated a project with the aim of enhancing fishers’ livelihoods in Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste, by managing the diversity that characterizes rural livelihoods. Firstly, mobilizing partnerships across sectors and then placing the capacity for generating and using knowledge in the hands of people who are trying to improve their lives.

The projects adopts a participatory livelihoods enhancement approach with community groups in Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste whereby visions and enhancement pathways are co-developed into action plans. These plans are then implemented and refined through cycles of action and reflection. Getting a clear idea of what a better livelihood looks like and identifying the capacity gaps that inhibit their realisation, is a central and important component of the project that provides insights for scaling pathways and how to turn policies into practice.

 

Summary:
From its offices in the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste, WorldFish collaborates with SwedBio to respond to “The Noumea Strategy”, a new key regional coastal fisheries policy approved by regional Heads of Fisheries and endorsed by the Ministerial Forum Fisheries Committee in 2015. The strategy is spearheaded by the Pacific Community – a key partner in the project – and focuses on the role of coastal fisheries in regional livelihoods and food security.

For more information contact:
Hampus Eriksson (H.Eriksson@cgiar.org) or Max Troell (max@beijer.kva.se)