The seasonally flooded depressions in the Inner Niger Delta (known as mares) represent a critical fishery resource for the inhabitants of the village of Komio, and at present, access is open to all residents. A proposal to build stocked fish enclosures in the main village mare presents potential benefits and risks. On one hand, overall productivity in the mare could be significantly increased, providing important sources of protein and cash during the annual drought period, when few livelihood activities can be performed and when village livelihoods are at their most vulnerable. Enhanced productivity in mares may also decrease local household pressures for seasonal labor migration. On the other hand, a resulting increase in the value of these mares may encourage elite capture of project benefits or rentseeking by certain village leaders of the landowning Marka ethnic group. As Bozo and Somono fishers appear most dependent on fishing income, clarification of access rights and mare fishery impacts on livelihoods is of particular concern to avoid negative externalities created by the pen aquaculture pilot program. Additionally, it may help us understand the potential for free-riding and theft that would undermine the project.
This research employs a triangulation between documentary, qualitative and quantitative data collections. To situate our assessment of mare stocking impacts, we review the literature describing the historical institutional context for mare and river fisheries access. Using qualitative interviews and focus group discussions, we provide evidence of how local institutional and leadership capacity for equitable common property resource management have evolved since the introduction of irrigated farming systems (known as Périmètres Irrigués Villageois or PIVs) in the 1990s. From household survey data we describe the livelihood strategies of the different ethnic groups’ in this community, and the specific roles that mares play in them. We conclude with a discussion of probable benefits for different stakeholder groups, and offer suggestions for avoiding problems of elite capture and free-ridership.
Russell, A.J.M.; Coulibaly, S.; Sinaba, F.; Kodio, A.; Joffre, O.; Sheriff, N. Institutional histories, seasonal floodplains(mares), and livelihood impacts of fishstocking in the Inner Niger River Delta of Mali. WorldFish Center, Penang, Malaysia (2010) 23 pp. (CBFC Working Paper No. 5)