A crash course in changing the world.
The case study refers to the management of fishery resources of two man-made reservoirs in Burkina Faso, namely Bagre and Kompienga. The total production from the two fisheries is about 2,500 t/y, i.e. about a quarter of national fish production. The fishery sector contribution to the economy is minor. However, the Government has placed particular attention to the administration of this sector since the beginning of the 90’s to implement its national policy and strategies regarding the sustainable management of renewable natural resources. The strategies include notably the promotion of community-based management (‘gestion des terroirs’) and a better internalisation of environmental issues in decision-making.
The institutional innovation in the fishery sector, and in particular for the management of Lakes Bagre and Kompienga, has resulted in the recognition of a specific legal regime for the two lakes (i.e. the ‘Périmètres aquacoles d’intérêt économique’ - PAIE) which gives the possibility of establishing joint management authorities. The management authorities will be responsible in particular for the formulation and the follow-up of fisheries management plans consisting among others in developing fishing effort control mechanisms. The composition, the mandate and the rules of procedure of the joint management authorities (called ‘Comité de gestion des PAIE’) will be soon clearly defined by Ministerial decrees.
The institutional process has started in the beginning of the 90’s and has consisted in several steps. These included notably: changes in global policy orientations regarding the management of natural resources (‘Plan d’action national pour l’environnement) ; designing of a new fishery policy ; formulation and implementation of a sectoral development plan ; revision of the fishery-related law (‘Réforme agraire et foncière’, ‘Code forestier’) ; organisation of a national conference on the fisheries sector ; and preparation of participatory fisheries management plans for Lakes Bagre and Kompienga.
The FAO Fisheries Department has assisted the Government in reaching several steps of the institutional process. At present, FAO is assisting the fishery administration to formulate the participatory management plans on Lakes Bagre and Kompienga. The process by which fishermen communities have been associated to the preparation of the plans have mainly consisted in conducting surveys in the field of social sciences. The planning exercise will be terminated during the first half of 1998 and will be sanctioned by the holding of two workshops aimed at discussing and adopting the plans. The workshops, one for each lake, will group together representatives from the administration and fishery-related institutions and from the different communities concerned directly or indirectly by the fisheries.
As in other Sahelian countries Burkina Faso has suffered in the 80’s from severe droughts with dramatic human and ecological consequences. In Burkina Faso, the problem has been addressed by promoting the construction of small-dams and reservoirs, and by encouraging rational management of renewable natural resources. The construction of reservoirs such as Bagre and Kompienga, initially constructed for hydro-electric and agricultural purposes, has incidentally allowed the development of fisheries. This has had considerable impact on the wh*** fishery sector. However it has also generated socio-economic problems which can be summarised as follows:
- The newly-created fisheries have been mainly colonised by migrant fishermen from neighbouring countries, while marketing of products has been rapidly controlled by traders from the capital city. This has generated frustrations within the native population freshly deprived from their lands due to the construction of dams, and who could neither enter the fisheries nor capture a significant part of the added value ;
- Fishing behaviours depicted by migrant fishermen have been governed by short-term interests in the exploitation of largely open access resources. The lack of the evolution of self-management mechanisms which could have evolved over the years might be explained by the lack of integration of fishermen communities in the social environment and their very precarious living conditions.
- Gradually, both national fishermen from other parts of the country as well as young people from the local population have started to enter the fisheries. Competition among ‘foreigners’, native people and non-native but national people has consequently increased and sometimes generated conflictual situations. Problems regarding fishery resources management as well as problems of a political nature have been hence progressively aggravated leading the administration to reconsider its fisheries management strategy for the lakes.
- Since the creation of the lakes, the administration has promoted a top-down approach by imposing fishing regulations which were not forcely based on scientific and socio-economic considerations and by allowing a de facto free access. Until recently, this strategy could be considered as efficient in terms of the development and management of the lake fisheries during its colonisation period. Nowadays, the Government is aware that the strategy has to shift from a top-down to a bottom-up approach in order to internalise socio-economic considerations and to establish effective and cost-efficient effort control mechanisms in partnership.