The Co-Management programme was introduced in Lake Malombe in attempt to resurrect the failing fishery. Representatives from the local area were elected to form the institution known as the Beach Village Committee, or commonly referred to as the BVC.
Problems and Purpose
The democratic innovation used in Lake Malombe was community driven development (CDD), which is a frequently used participatory and community-based approach to development[i], by transferring power to local institutions. More specifically, CDD in this case was implemented in the form of a Co-Management programme to facilitate the rehabilitation of the fishery and significantly improve catches. This arrangement allowed local representatives to work cohesively with the government as equal partners, making decisions and changes to the Malawi fishery, together.
Background History and Context
In Malawi, a centralised management of Fisheries dates back to the beginning of colonisation by the British Empire, introducing the first fishing regulations in 1930[ii]. After almost 75 years of oppression, Malawi gained full independence in 1964, however, centralised fishery management continued through the mandated Fishers Department[iii]. The centralised approached brought about many challenges including defiance of regulations and a lack of scientific knowledge attributable to the management process[iv]. Inevitably, this led to a dramatic decline in fish stocks and fish catches throughout the 1980s which is incrementally detrimental; Lake Malombe produced 17% of Malawi’s total fish production[v], thus with catches declining, peoples health and livelihoods will also deplete. As a result, the Malawi Government shifted to a decentralised management approach, necessitating the Co-Management programme in Lake Malombe.
This Co-Management project is part of a much larger study run by the Institutions and Governance Program at the World Resources Institute named ‘Institutional Choice and Recognition: Effects on the Formation and Consolidation of Local Democracy’. The project aims to evaluate local institutions in developing countries and their effects on local democratisation process’ on interventions such as natural resource management[vi]. There were two locations chosen by the Malawi Government for this pilot study to take place: Lake Malombe and Lake Chiuta. However, Lake Malombe is regarded as more important due to the importance of fishing in this location and the severe decline of fish stocks in this area[vii].
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
This project was setup in the late 1980s by the Malawi Government (MG), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The Co-Management programme in Lake Malombe was implemented as a multi-donor funded project, with the main donors being the German Technical Foundation (GTZ), the UNDP, the Overseas Development Administration (ODA) and the World Bank.
The main government unit related to the Co-Management programme in Malawi is the existing Mangochi District Fisheries Office. This governmental unit headed the operation as there was no pre-existing structure among the fishing community which would have made it difficult to partake in the new management regime. The role of the Fisheries Department was to create the community-level institutions (as previously mentioned, the BVCs), and to create and train a committee, as the fishing communities had no pre-existing structure to help with the new management regime. Funds raised from the donor projects were initially used to pay the sitting allowance for the BVC meetings, however, eventually this was financed through revenue from the gear-license fees, under the revised Fisheries. Furthermore, the Fisheries Office were in charge of the supervision of the extension staff living in the fishing communities, known as the community liaison officers. The Fisheries Department acted as a facilitator in the introduction of the new CDD initiative, while the fishery extension officers were responsible for facilitating the formation of the
Since the Cold War ended in the late 1980s between America and the Soviet Union, there nuanced demand for political democracy and transparency in return for those offering development aid. Hence, the sole purpose of the donors investing in the Co-Management programme in Malawi was to lead to political empowerment of user communities in the management of fisheries, and hopefully resulting in the recovery of the fishery
Participant Recruitment and Selection
The Co-Management initiative in Lake Malombe was open for anyone to participate in, however, participants must be part of one of the of two key partners: the DoF (local based fishery staff in the community liaison unit) and the BVCs, the local representatives with local leaders as their advisors. There are 31 BVCs around Lake Malombe and Upper Shire River and served of the purpose of representing the interests of the fishing communities. The BVCs formed through the training of fisheries assistants and fishers by the Department of Community Development. Committee members were trained on the biological basis of fishing regulation and took part in the general capacity building[viii]. Anyone in the community can become a representative in the BVC, whether they are involved in the fishery or not. However, one must be elected and attain approval from the village headmen (VHM) and the fisheries extension workers[ix]. A group of 10-14 members are selected to form the committee[x], this is a relatively very small amount of people representing a large proportion of people, in turning raising concerns over the inclusivity of the programme as very few citizens from the community are able to participate. Additionally, approximately only 30% of members of the BVC were fishers, alluding that there is a lack of representation for the fishing community, as committee members who are not fishers will not understand the priorities for actual fishers in the community
Furthermore, the process of electing BVC members led many people to question the transparency of this project the purpose of the BVCs was to represent the fishing communities interests, and hence derive their power from the community. However, it has been stated that BVCs feel as though they derive their powers from the government instead, in doing so isolating themselves from their ‘constituency’[xi]. Moreover, the DoF facilitated the introduction of the new participatory management regime. However, many fishers claimed that the election process for the BVC was heavily biased; the fisheries extension officers facilitated the creation of the BVCs and allegedly manipulated the elections so that their favoured candidates gained a place on the BVC, rather than those most favoured by the majority of fishers, therefore creating more doubts towards the transparency of this project. The theory behind this manipulation by the extension workers if that they wanted to create a BVC with a strong fisheries management ethos (the DoF’s primary objective) instead of appointing those who stand for alternative views, contrary to the DoF, who would potentially bring innovative and differing opinions Thus, this severely limits the democratic good ‘considered judgement’ as everyone elected onto the BVC has very similarly views, opinions, and morals, thereby incrementally limiting the scope of discussion and potential for new, ground-breaking ideas.
There were several Ministries and Departments that have acted as advisors to the programme; The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD) provided technical support on tomato production; the Department of Wildlife aided bee and guinea fowl production to offer the people an alternative income generating activity (IGAs), while the Forestry Department assisted the BVCs and fishers in establishing woodlots to process fish and build boats in the future Within the Co-Management programme in Lake Malobme, extension was considered a key component and thus, these agencies assisted as experts in these areas, as the DoF nor BVCs had little knowledge on these areas.
Methods and Tools Used
The overarching participatory process used in the Lake Malombe programme is community driven development, also commonly referred to as CDD. This initiative aims to empower the citizens through the devolution of power to those involved and direct participation in the project. More specifically, the particular method which was implemented in Lake Malombe was a co-management programme. Co-management is a branch of CDD and is described as the partnership between the government and those with vested interests in the fishing industry; the knowledge of the resource users (the fishers) work in conjunction with the capacity of the government who are able to provide the necessary legislation to advance the fishing communities desires into actual law. This creates incentives for co-operation between both partners which will create a positive outcome, generating more efficient, equal, and sustainable management schemes.[xii]
The formation of BVCs was so the committee could serve as representatives of the fishing communities. Therefore, the BVCs engaged in negotiations with the government and many responsibilities were devolved and became shared between the government and the BVCs However, many roles are still the responsibility of the DoF if not shared with the DoF, therefore the Co-Management in Lake Malombe is often considered largely consultative due to the power constraints the BVC face In order to recover the fishery, the project focussed on increasing co-operation, improving dialogue and discussion between the DoF and the fishing community, and hoped to improve the level of compliance with regulations The BVC would frequently attend meetings with the DoF to discuss changes to be made and new laws and regulations. Sitting allowances were funded by the donors, which paid the members for attending, as well as covering medical expenses and medical insurance
The approach of using the democratic innovation, Co-Management, was chosen by the Malawi government due to the failing centralised management system of fisheries which had led to the serious decline in catches and stock in Lake Malombe. This community-based method was chosen to act as a remedy, with the hope that through including the local fishing community, their knowledge and expertise could be utilised to create a new, successful management system which would reignite fishing in Lake Malombe.
What Went On: Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction
Through the devolution of power from the government to the BVCs, they became solely responsible for the issuing on transfer letters and allowing fishers from other lakes to come and fish in Lake Malombe. Additionally, sharing responsibility with the government, BVCs were also responsible for collecting licensing fees, monitored stocks and message delivery, and were involved in enforcement. The DoF also consulted the BVCs on the formulation of regulations, review of Fisheries Act, and the Fishers Policy However, as aforementioned, many jobs continued the responsibility of the DoF.
The regulations for the Fishery were developed through negotiations between the BVC and th DoF, however enforcement was carried out by the Fisheries Department Through the local communities involvement in deciding regulations, this significantly improves popular control, through the BVCs direct influence on the fishing laws. The BVC obtain a lot of power through successfully including their views and the opinions of the fishing community into the regulations, creating high levels of popular control. It has also been stated that fishers now view the regulations to be more legitimate since the involvement of the BVC and higher level of compliance have been noted.[xiii]
Before the initiation of the Co-Management programme, beach chairmen were responsible for many roles that the BVC are now in charge of. The chairmen were informally appointed by the village headmen and dealt with issues affecting acceptance and expulsion of fishers from the beach and minor conflicts between fishers and non-fishers, which are now dealt with by the BVC.[xiv]
Prior to the Co-Management programme, there was no link between fishers and the government, which prevented the desires of the fishery from being communicated. Now, through the BVC, the link between the two groups now exists. The improved communication has decreased hostility from the fishing community towards the government and fisheries inspectors. Additionally, this is said to have improved violations to regulations[xv].
The local radio station, the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, was utilised as a means to disseminate fishery extension messages. The radio station was report on regulations such as controls of water hyacinth, fishing methods, closed seasons, licensing, and fish processing methods. This was the primary method in which members of the fishing community would receive information regarding the new procedures under the Co-Management programme
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The necessity for the implementation of Co-Management in Lake Malombe was due to the concerning decline in stock and falling number of catches. Research revealed that up until 1995, three years after the project started, catches in the Lake were still declining. There was an improvement in catches throughout the year of 1996, however, from 1997 fish catches began to decline again.[xvi] Therefore, this initiating of a Co-Management programme unambiguously did not meet the intended outcomes of the project, as catches did not return to the pre-1980 levels.
There are many reasons that this programme was not successful. One is that the regulations were not enough to address the problem of overfishing and that the policy needed to go further in order to stop people. Fishers were still using the banned, under-meshsized nets and fishing within the closed season, and that the programme needed longer to function optimally and show its full impact. Additionally, other causalities included external factors such as environmental factors or the weather, which is out of the projects control, which have been affecting low productivity.
The BVC played a large role in initiating regulations. Two of the major decisions that the BVC played a part in were the changing of the closed season for nkacha and kambuzi nets, as well as the banning of matemba seine nets from Lake Chilwa being used in Lake Malombe. However, the BVC had very little autonomy and most of the tasks they implemented were made alongside the Fisheries Department. Nonetheless, through the involvement of the BVC in decision-making, it led to increased compliance among fishers, decreased violations to regulations and less hostility towards government bodies
Analysis and Lesson Learned
There was a general consensus that the co-management programme did not change anything about the sharing of benefits from the fishery. Most people felt that gear owners benefitted the most and suggested that loans should be available for non-gear owners to be able purchase the necessary equipment.
Following this project, the local communities felt that the arrangement between the BVC and Department of Fisheries should continue. This was due to the levels of trust that had been built between the local community and the Department of Fisheries which had also led to improved compliance of regulations. However, some improvements to the co-management programme were suggested: study visits, greater powers to the BVC and giving incentives to the BVC, such as loans for buying nets and paying BVC members Kangachepe.[xvii] Co-Management alone was not enough to solve the problem of fisheries in Lake Malombe.
These levels of efficiency in this project vary greatly; this project is very cost-effective, however lacks efficacy regarding the actual outcome of the programme. There is very little cost to this project as the main outgoings are to the BVC and DoF for staff allowances while attending meetings and government vehicles, hence the costs are relatively low and were financed through donations to the project Although, donors were meant to be used as a short-term solution to these expenses and fisheries license fees were to be diverted to cover costs associated with running the BVC, however, this was never enacted.
Further, this project is not very transferable. The concept of CDD is highly transferable and would work in many locations and many problems where the inclusion of local/specific knowledge is beneficial. However, due to the failure of CDD in Lake Malombe, I would be hesitant to suggest its benefit in problems relating to natural resources or with governments that are not willing to devolve much power to the participants, as was the case in Lake Malombe.
Community Driven Development (method)
[i] Fung, A., & Wright, E. O. (2003). Deepening democracy: Institutional innovations in empowered participatory governance. London: Verso
[ii] Donda, S., & Njaya, F. (2007). Fisheries co-management in Malawi: an analysis of the underlying policy process. Food security and poverty alleviation through improved valuation and governance of river fisheries in Africa. WorldFish Center.
[iii] Kachilonda, D. D. K. (2014). Investigating and Expanding Learning in Co-Management of Fisheries Resources to Inform Extension Training. Rhodes University.
[iv] Hara, M. M., Donda, S. J., & Njaya, F. J. (2007). Evaluation of Lake Malombe co-management, paper presented at Fisheries co-management workshop, Penang.
[v] Njaya, F. J. (2001). The Challenges and Potential of the Fisheries Co-Management Programmes in Malawi: Case of Lake Malombe Participatory Fisheries Management Programme. Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations.
[vi] Hara, M. (2006). Nesting Participatory Fisheries Management Within District Decentralisation: Case of Mangochi District, Malawi.
[vii] Davis, C., (2004). Co-management in Malawi. Ottawa: National Library of Canada = Bibliothèque nationale du Canada.
[viii] Sen, S. and Raakjaer Nielsen, J., (1996). Fisheries co-management: a comparative analysis. Marine Policy, 20(5), pp.405-418.
[ix] Donda, S. J. (2000). Journey to sustainable fisheries management: Organisational and institutional limitations in fisheries co-management, the cases of lakes Malombe and Chiuta in Malawi.
[x] Scholz, U. F., F. J. Njaya, S. Chirnatiro, H. Hummel, S. Donda and B. J. Mloko. (1998). Status and prospects of participatory fisheries management: Programmes in Malawi. In Petr, T. (Ed.) Inland Fisheries Enhancement, FAO Fisheries Technical Paper No. 374. FAO: Rome. Pp 407-425.
[xi] Hara, M.M. 2001. Could co-management provide a solution to the problems of artisanal fisheries management on the Southeast Arm of Lake Malawi? (PhD thesis). University of the Western Cape. Cape Town. South Africa.
[xii] Pomeroy, R. S. and M. J. Williams. (1994). Fisheries co-management and small-scale fisheries: A policy brief. International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management, Manila.
[xiii] Hara, M., S. J. Donda and F. Njaya. (1999). An evaluation of the Lake Malombe co-management programme. Paper presented at the International Workshop on Fisheries Co-management, 23-28 August, Penang, Malaysia.
[xiv] Donda, S. J. (2000). Theoretical advancement and institutional analysis of fisheries co-management in Malawi: Experiences from Lakes Malombe and Chiuta. Unpublished PhD. Thesis.
[xv] Jaya, F. J, S. J. Donda and M. M. Hara. (1997). Fisheries co-management in Malawi: Lake Chiuta revisit case study. Working paper WP27 from ICLARM available http://www.co-management.org/download/chiuta.pdf
[xvi] Hara, M., Donda, S., & Njaya, F. (2004). AN EVALUATION OF THE LAKE MALOMBE CO-MANAGEMENT PROGRAM.
[xvii] Kachilonda, D. D. K. (2014). Investigating and expanding learning in co-management of fisheries resources to inform extension training. Rhodes University.