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Publication | 24 April 2019

Fish as the “bank in the water” – Evidence from chronic-poor communities in Congo

Global Food and Nutrition Security

Small-scale fisheries in developing countries are often perceived as being a low-productivity and backward informal sector. As a result they are rarely considered in poverty reduction programmes and rural development planning. In this paper, we investigate the dual role of fish as a food and cash crop through data collected in river fisheries in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Fishing in this very remote rural region of DRC is operated both by men and women, as part of a household multiple activity livelihood strategy. The data shows that poor households rely heavily on fishing for their supply of protein-rich food, in particular through women’s subsistence catches. Fishing also appears to be the main source of cash-income for the majority of households, including local farmers. Based on these findings and a review of the literature, the paper argues that small-scale fisheries can play a fundamental role in local economies, especially in remote rural areas where they strengthen significantly the livelihoods of people through their role in both food security and cash-income generation.