Developing a rapid needs assessment framework for fishing communities

Marianne Manuel, Tanya Koshy, Samyuktha Rao, Fathima Husain, Naveen Namboothri

Considering the large economic contribution and the employment and livelihood opportunities that the fishing sector generates, there is an immediate need to focus on improving the lives of the coastal fisher communities. However, the diffuse and diverse nature of the small scale fishery sector in India (purportedly there is a fishing village along every 3 km of the coastline) combined with the serious lack of information on the key issues and challenges faced by the sector, makes scalable development planning a major challenge.

Dakshin, with the support of the Tata Trusts, is building a methodology for assessing quality of life, social development, ecological conditions and political economy in fishing communities. The methodology will be bottom up and sufficiently robust so as to yield reliable information on the communities studied, taking into account the (micro)politics, history, social relations and human-nature interactions at the village, mandal/taluk and district scale. At the same time the methodology will also be sufficiently practical so as to be carried out in a reasonable amount of time with minimal training in a wide variety of circumstances while still maintaining its integrity.

While the idea of bottom up data driven governance is gaining momentum in policy making circles in India, a number of existing initiatives rely on purely quantitative data (often for logistical reasons). Being able to combine this quantitative data with the qualitative methodological framework that this project will develop, may hold the key to conducting holistic assessments and developing sector-specific developmental reforms.

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