Institutional Settings and Access to Assets in Rural Coastal Fishing Communities in the Volta Region of Ghana
In Ghana, the artisanal fisheries sector generates both direct and indirect employment for a large number of rural people who work as crew members, fish processors, traders, fish distributors and porters along the entire coastal zone of about 550 kilometres, stretching from Aflao in the East to Half Assini in the Western part of the country. Although the sector is legally an open access (de jure) to every Ghanaian, it is the state and provincial agencies that have prime responsibility for managing it. At the local level, traditional bodies of each coastal community have their own sets of rules and regulations concerning the sector. This paper examines how the formal and informal institutional settings intentionally or unintentionally influence entitlements (assets) and constrain/enhance access in fishing communities of Southern Volta Region. Fifty household heads from Adina, Agavedzi, Amutinu and Tetekorfe were interviewed in addition to eight opinion leaders. One focus group discussion was also held in each of the selected communities. The study revealed that fishing community members were not involved in decision-making and policy processes concerning the fishery management at the national level, and were as a result marginalized in terms of access to vital assets needed for their livelihood and well-being. Traditional rules and regulations of the fisheries resources also have a gender dimension and tend to marginalize women, denying them rights, entitlements and regular access to assets. The findings have implication for the discourse on poverty alleviation in rural fishing communities. It is therefore, recommended among others that there is the need to increase awareness and education on the rights of women and gender equity at both national and local levels in the country to enhance their access to assets.