Conceptualisations of fisheries development in Eastern Africa over time and between actors

Author(s): Blandon, A., Daw, T., Haider, J., Stone-Jovicich, S.
In: Marine Policy, DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2019.103512
Year: 2019
Type: Journal / article
Theme affiliation: Marine
Link to centre authors: Daw, Tim, Haider, Jamila
Full reference: Blandon, A., Daw, T., Haider, J., Stone-Jovicich, S. 2019. Conceptualisations of fisheries development in Eastern Africa over time and between actors. Marine Policy, DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2019.103512


Since the late-2000s, there has been a growing discussion around development aid approaches that reflect complexity concepts, such as adaptive and iterative project management. Fisheries development interventions deal with particularly complex realities. They also illustrate the changing problems and prescribed solutions of development “paradigms” over time, which have yet to be systematically analysed in a fisheries context. This study analyses documents from 11 World Bank fisheries development projects from 1975 to 2017 in Eastern Africa and interviews with 13 project designers and implementers. The conceptualisation of the fisheries development “system” – the perceived problems, causal links and proposed solutions – was captured in each document and interview. The documents showed a clear difference in the variables and consequential links most frequently mentioned before 1995 and after 2000, moving from a narrow sectoral approach with tangible interventions such as infrastructure, to a more holistic approach pushing for softer solutions such as stakeholder engagement. While this suggests a change in the institutional World Bank paradigm, the contemporary interviews were not necessarily consistent with this shift. Interviewees’ conceptualisations also differed between each other, which may have implications for project implementation. A range of concepts related to complexity thinking were found and coded in both interviews and documents, particularly documents from recent World Bank projects. While this shows some evidence of actors and institutions incorporating complexity concepts into their narrative, concepts of adaptation, unpredictability, non-comparability and feedbacks were poorly reflected, showing the current gaps if approaches such as adaptive management are to be taken up.


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