Livelihood Diversification and fishing communities in Ghana’s Western Region
This report was prepared by the WorldFish Center to provisionally identify livelihood diversification opportunities in coastal communities in Ghana’s Western Region. The best options for livelihood diversification generally relate to further development of existing activities. Occasionally, there may be opportunities to significantly ramp up an existing but hitherto small activity, in response to a sudden change in circumstances. Developing more generic livelihood skills (such as improved education, business development skills) coupled with the provision of generic business services (e.g., information centres, micro-finance) will improve individual abilities to identify and seize new livelihood opportunities in a range of sectors. An overview of the coastal economy yields some insights as to where future growth might lie, which, when coupled with some knowledge of fishing community assets (land, finance, education, social networks), will give some indication as to where prospects are best. The existing foundation for the economy in Western Region can be summarised as fish, port services (Takoradi), gold (inland), tourism (coastal), timber (inland) and oil and gas (new) – plus a strong agricultural base. Those sectors with a significant coastal presence are: fish, oil and gas, tourism and port services. Port services are not explored because most of them relate to Takoradi – rather than the many fishing communities with the greatest need for livelihood diversification. A large share of those living in fishing communities have a weak asset base – and are most likely to find livelihoods in micro-enterprise and labouring. Opportunities that require capital investment or land (sports fishing and aquaculture have been mooted) will not be options for (most people in) the fishing communities. Both could create employment opportunities but neither is likely to have high labour demands. What opportunities does this situation offer for livelihood diversification in coastal areas? There appear to be three possible routes: (a) generic support improve abilities to identify and seize livelihood opportunities (without being prescriptive about particular sub-sectors); (b) tourism (growing), and (c) oil and gas (new). Tourism is growing and if planned and managed well, could create significant and well-distributed livelihood opportunities in the region. Oil and gas is potentially quite problematic since the goods and services it uses are rarely purchased locally – except when unskilled labour is used for construction. To generate local employment opportunities in the region, a concerted and early collaborative effort will be needed to learn from experience elsewhere and apply best practice in Ghana. Fish is quite pervasive in Western Region’s coastal economy – in the sense that it creates thousands of jobs, directly and indirectly related to fishing. A really explicit and focused effort (requiring a convergence of political will and action) to develop oil or tourism in a way that created significant local employment could encourage people to exit fishing, leaving a less-crowded sector, more amenable to gradual change (with a more educated younger generation shifting into other sectors and places).