The importance of riverine and floodplain fisheries for livelihood resilience in Africa

The livelihoods of rural communities depend primarily on the availability of and access to renewable resources, including water, land and living resources. These resources are components of ecosystems with complex and dynamic relationships. Holling (1973) and Gunderson (2000) have shown that these ecosystems have their own capacity or resilience to adapt to external pressures induced by humans and large-scale environmental changes. This capacity is found in other complex systems, notably in what Ostrom (2009) has called the ‘social-ecological system’, a concept which integrates resources, their uses and the governance frameworks established by their users. Indeed, resilience appears to be the fundamental mechanism to adjust complex systems on an ongoing basis, which is reflected in the way communities that depend on natural resources develop equally complex and dynamic use strategies. More recently, Quensière et al (2018) have demonstrated how this idea is particularly applicable to artisanal fisheries systems which are subject to a range of environmental, technical, economic, and political pressures.