Testing resilience thinking in a poverty context: Experience from the Niger River basin
Resilience thinking is an important addition to the range of frameworks and approaches that can be used to understand and manage complex social-ecological systems like small-scale fisheries. However, it is yet to lead to better environmental or development outcomes for fisheries stakeholders in terms of food security, improved livelihoods and ecological sustainability. This paper takes an empirical approach by focusing on the fundamentals of resilience thinking to evaluate its usefulness in developing relevant management interventions in small-scale fisheries in the Niger River Basin in West Africa. The paper presents the outputs of a participatory assessment exercise where both fishery communities and local experts were involved at two different scales. The resilience frame used was designed to facilitate the identification of socially defined thresholds that help delineate the desirability of the current system configuration and provides a diagnosis framework that tailors management solutions to problems in local context. The analysis highlights some key contributions from resilience thinking to the challenge of diagnosis in small-scale fisheries management in developing countries, as well as important contributions that emerge from taking a pragmatic and critical approach to its application.