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Asset or liability? Aquaculture in a natural disaster prone area

Karim, Manjurul, Castine, Sarah, Brooks, Alan, Beare, Douglas, Beveridge, Malcolm, Phillips, Michael
Ocean & coastal management 2014 v.96 pp. 188-197
harvesting, risk, issues and policy, rural families, households, income, aquaculture, risk management, mangrove forests, infrastructure, ponds, livelihood, food security, assets, fish, death, disasters, coping strategies, Bangladesh
Cyclone Sidr, which hit in November 2007, caused widespread damage and death among communities in coastal Bangladesh. A range of actions or ‘coping strategies’ were employed by households to ensure that their families had sufficient food and income resources to survive in the months following the cyclone. Coping strategies adopted by the households were categorized into three groups (i) food related, ii) income generated through selling assets, and iii) income generated though borrowing money. We found that the range of coping strategies adopted did not depend statistically on access to aquaculture assets, indicating that neither group (those with aquaculture assets and those without aquaculture assets) was better equipped to cope with the disaster. Aquaculture ponds were, however, important for supplying food and income in the post-disaster period and 78% of households were willing to re-invest in aquaculture despite the risk of stock losses and damage to infrastructure during recurrent disasters. It is concluded that aquaculture ponds are likely to provide a mechanism for coping after a disaster, despite the costs involved in repairing them. We recommend that aquaculture development be promoted for income and food security for rural families but that development occurs in areas that does not compromise other ecosystem functions i.e., mangrove forests. Risk management strategies, such as raising fast growing fish, which shortens the production cycle and allows for early harvesting, be embedded into policy reforms. We also recommend that a diversified livelihood strategy including non-farm activities be included in the reforms.