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Poverty and Reefs

4.6 Summary

There are a wide diversity of approaches that have been used in association with reefs and reef-dependent livelihoods. In the main these have been used to address biophysical aims and so evidence for their effectiveness in addressing livelihoods issues is less obvious. There is, however, a growing recognition that greater levels of involvement of reef-dependent communities in identifying and solving problems is the way forwards. However, these approaches in the main still view participation as a functional approach and few initiatives are addressing reef-related issues with a people, let alone, a poverty focus. For participation to increase success in terms of poverty reduction it must engage reef-dependent people in an equitable way – it must understand that the community is not homogenous and that the poor are often difficult to ‘see’ and engage in the development process – it must also consider the powerful influences of patronage and external market forces and attempt to engage with these creatively to transform them into positive influences.

A key part in future changes will be more systematic approaches to understanding the complexity of people’s lives and to responding to the challenges they face. Halting reef decline in an equitable and participatory fashion is not sufficient to change people’s behaviours and enhance livelihood security. Support must be given to help people change themselves and reduce the risks associated with changing. Solutions must be developed together, be locally acceptable, build on strengths and opportunities, while recognising threats and be dynamic in the longer term. Support must also come from government services to enhance safety nets which need to be better targeted to the poor.
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