It is usually assumed that most, if not all, small scale fishing communities, particularly in tropical countries, represents the poorest and most disadvantaged part of rural societies. As a result, these populations have been targeted for poverty alleviation by fisheries development programmes since the early 60's. Unfortunately many of these programmes have failed in achieving their objectives due to a lack of understanding for the complex livelihood strategies and networks of socio-economic and institutional relationships which characterise the different strata of these societies. In the present paper, we attempt to address the issue of poverty and rural livelihood strategies for the fishing communities of the Yaéré floodplains of the Lake Chad Basin (Cameroon, Africa). For this, we carried out an socio-economic assessment of the Yaéré floodplain population through a wealth / activity ranking exercise combined to an analysis of the land / water tenure systems. The result shows that the floodplain population is made up of different wealth groups characterised by distinct livelihood strategies. In particular it is shown that the poorest rely in a larger proportion on fishing activities while the better off mainly rely on farming. The analysis emphasises the key-role of the local water tenure system in this livelihood strategy distinction. The relation between wealth and food insecurity as well as the different factors governing the wealth differentiation process are analysed. The implications for poverty alleviation and rural development programmes at the micro-level are briefly discussed.
Béné, C., et al. Evaluating Livelihood Strategies and the Role of Inland Fisheries in Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation: The Case of the Yaéré Floodplain in North Cameroon. In: Microbehavior and Macroresults: Proceedings of the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade, July 10-14, 2000, Corvallis, Oregon, USA. Compiled by Richard S. Johnston and Ann L. Shriver. International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade (IIFET), Corvallis, 2001.