Description of the project:

In 2015, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) funded a US$32,000 project to generate a diagnostic and actionable knowledge on the linkages between social protection, natural resource management, women and overall people’s empowerment and poverty alleviation in fisheries and forestry communities in two Caribbean countries.  The countries selected for the study were St. Vincent and the Grenadines (with focus on St. Vincent) and Trinidad and Tobago (with focus on Trinidad).  In each country, CANARI examined the existing overarching social protection and poverty reduction policies and the range of social protection initiatives and how these were affecting fisherfolk and forest users in terms of building resilience of their livelihoods.

Key activities

As part of the project CANARI conducted a desk study of regional policies relevant to social protection and sustainable forestry and fisheries development that should be implemented at the national level. Desk studies, including interviews with key public-sector agencies (forestry, fisheries, poverty alleviation, etc.) and other key support agencies, were also conducted for each target country to gather information on national level social protection policies and programmes. To understand the impact of national level social protection policies and programmes at the community level, semi-structured interviews were conducted with key informants (forest users and fisherfolk and community leaders) in two selected fisheries- and forestry-dependent communities in St. Vincent and Trinidad. In St. Vincent, the communities targeted were Calliaqua and Diamond Village and Blanchisseuse and Caura were targeted in Trinidad.

One-day national validation workshops were facilitated in each country to present the preliminary findings and elicit input from stakeholders from both the fisheries and forestry sectors.

Summary of results

In Trinidad and Tobago there is a comprehensive social protection programme aimed at reducing poverty. The paucity of information on the linkages between social protection, natural resource management and poverty alleviation in fisheries and forestry dependent communities in the country, however, makes it difficult to determine whether national and sectoral social protection programmes are contributing to the reduction of poverty in these communities. Findings indicate that while poverty among small-scale fishers and forest-users and their communities may be low, vulnerability may be of more concern. They also show that while these smallholders may be benefitting, to some extent, from the broad range of social protection schemes, the direct benefit from sector oriented schemes are limited. It highlights the need for clearly defined fisheries and forestry policies and plans that incorporate social security, climate change adaptation and disaster risk management, and for a more participatory approach to policy development and implementation.

In Saint Vincent and the Grenadines fishing communities depend on each other to cope with shocks rather than using the more formal programmes that are available because of mistrust and lack of awareness of some of the programmes among fisherfolk. Forest based enterprises and the households that depend on them, use all the programmes that are available to them because there is greater awareness of the programmes and longer history of their use in forest-based enterprises. Private insurance was however, not seen as a viable coping method because of past negative experiences with companies such as Colonial Life Insurance Company [Trinidad] Limited that went bankrupt. Some were unable to recover their monies. The National Insurance Service (NIS) was seen as too expensive for regular payments for the self-employed in both forestry and fisheries. The need for improved trust between fishers and government and fishers and the private sector and awareness building strategies to improve use of national social programmes are key areas to address. Tailoring the National Insurance Service to treat with the varying needs and capacities among self-employed persons should also be explored.

Read the detailed technical report from the study here: Research on social protection to foster sustainable management of natural resources and reduce poverty in fisheries and forestry dependent communities in the Caribbean

Learn more about the FAO’s efforts to use social protection to foster sustainable management of natural resources and reduce poverty in fisheries-dependent communities here: Social protection to foster sustainable management of natural resources and reduce poverty in fisheries-dependent communities

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For more information, contact Melanie Andrews, Technical Officer melanie@canari.org

See related work under CANARI’s Coastal and Marine Livelihoods and GovernanceForest, Livelihoods and Governance and Capacity building programmes.

Tags: Research; Rural livelihoods; Forestry; Fisheries