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AFSPAN Project gets Underway

The first meeting of the Aquaculture for Food Security, Poverty Alleviation and Nutrition (AFSPAN) Project has concluded in Penang, Malaysia, hosted by the WorldFish Center from 10 to 13 September.

The inception workshop was convened to allow technical and country partners to discuss the work programme, identify in-country data gathering requirements and to develop implementation strategies for the project.

Understanding aquaculture's role in food security, poverty alleviation and nutrition

Information on the direct and indirect socio-economic impacts of aquaculture is limited in most developing countries. While aquaculture is often advocated as a tool for rural development, there are large gaps in the existing research base and many issues such as the contribution of aquaculture to human health, nutrition and micronutrients critical child development are often simply overlooked. As a result, aquaculture is often overlooked as a possible development assistance intervention, or conversely, may be introduced in inappropriate circumstances.

AFSPAN's goal is to develop methodologies that can be applied to understand the 'big picture' role of aquaculture in a development context. The project seeks to build an inter-disciplinary framework for a wholistic assessment of aquaculture across a broad range of indicators, incorporating food security, poverty alleviation and human nutrition issues and the linkages between them. It is anticipated that a better understanding of the role of aquaculture will permit more effective targeting of aquaculture-related development assistance interventions.

Developing the framework

The crux of the workshop was a joint review of the work programme by all partners, including discussion on prospective case studies and data collection arrangements. The project is being implemented through a set of nine work packages investigating different aspects including the role of aquaculture systems, social and cultural issues, nutrition, trade and markets and international cooperation. These will contribute to the development of an integrated analytical framework for quantifying the contribution of aquaculture in a broad development context. The work programme will operate across twelve developing and low-income food deficit countries, with the involvement of 20 partner organisations.

Lucy Towers

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