Strength in Numbers: Fishing communities in India assert their traditional rights over livelihoods resources

Publication date

09 Jun 2011

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Villagers in the Tikamgarh and Chattarpur districts of Madhya Pradesh traditionally had the right to fish the region’s ponds, but had lost control of these valuable resources to landlords and contractors. Despite encountering violent opposition, the fishers began organizing to reclaim control of the ponds. They established village co-operatives and formed a federation that gave a strong voice to the region’s fishing communities. By 2008, fisher co-operatives controlled 151 ponds, with nine run by women’s groups. In 2008, their campaign persuaded the state government to revise its fisheries policy, introducing a new law that protects the rights of traditional fishing communities and contains provisions that should help to improve livelihoods in the drought-hit region.