“Far from disadvantaging the poor, small-scale aquaculture and fisheries form the mainstay of the livelihoods of millions of poor people across Asia Pacific”, says Graham Haylor Director of the regional STREAM Initiative. “The special role played by fish as an essential component of poor people’s diet and livelihoods has been almost ignored. So much so that planning, policy and support to this sector has been very limited.”
It is often assumed that poor people don’t have the technical knowledge to manage natural resources effectively. However, there is increasing evidence that the poor actually know a lot about managing their resources, and that this knowledge is undervalued or ignored.
“The problem is that there is little documentation of successful management. There are few opportunities for discussion between stakeholders and so awareness of successful practice is very low. Even when effective policies and ways of working have been developed, they are poorly shared around the region. There is a need to improve learning and communication on aquatic resource management”, says Dr Haylor.
Enter ‘STREAM’ - the ‘Support to Regional Aquatic Resources Management’ Initiative. ‘STREAM’ is a coalition of development partners including the Network of Aquaculture Centers for Asia Pacific (NACA), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Volunteer Services Overseas (VSO) and Department for International Development (DFID).
Dr Haylor says that the STREAM Initiative aims to identify aquatic resource management issues that affect the livelihoods of the poor. “It will monitor and evaluate different management approaches, extend knowledge and encourage networking between sectors and countries.”
STREAM will help with learning and communications to support agencies and institutions. This is intended to utilize existing information more effectively, better-understand poor people's livelihoods, and enable poor people to exert greater influence over policies and processes that impact on their lives.
FAO will assist fifteen Asian governments to participate in STREAM through its Technical Cooperation Programme. This will include provision of direct financial assistance and equipment as well as support to technical cooperation and field missions between participating countries.