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Understanding the Fish Market System in Kyauk Phyu Township

Kyauk Phyu Township, Rakhine State
August, 2011

On October 22, 2010, Cyclone Giri made landfall on the western coast of Rakhine State, Myanmar, causing severe damage to houses, infrastructure, standing crops and fisheries. Rakine State had some of the worst poverty and social indicators in the country even prior to the cyclone, with chronic challenges including high population density, malnutrition and weak infrastructure.

The EMMA in Rakhine aimed to establish an understanding of how the fishing sector had recovered since the cyclone and to look at opportunities to improve efficiency within the market system. The assessment focused on the fish market system and subsistence-level fisherfolk who were affected by Giri.

Livelihoods in Rakhine are dominated by agriculture and fisheries, with a high percentage of households engaged in both sectors at different times of the year. Market linkages between villages and larger towns are relatively weak due to poor infrastructure connecting villages and high dependency on boats for transportation. Remote coastal communities rely on small-scale fishing for consumption and barter fish for rice. Licensing schemes largely exclude local communities to access fishing grounds. Men and women hold different responsibilities within the fish market system, with women usually managing cash and men generally responsible for production and decision making along the value chain. High interest rates and limited access to loans further constrains the local economy and increases the debt burden of local households.

The fishing sector has recovered since Cyclone Giri. However, small and medium fishers continue to face difficulties in earning enough income from their production due to structural barriers or insecurity of their fishing grounds. Overall there is much scope to improve market linkages between fishing communities and markets in towns.

The following responses are suggested as a way to improve the livelihoods and food security of the fishing communities: restoration and improvement of physical infrastructure, such as boats and storage facilities; strengthening human capital by improving the nutritional situation for households; providing cash grants, conditional cash transfers and other means of improving financial capital; strengthening networks with business, government, and NGOs; and advocating for more sustainable rehabilitation and management of natural capital.

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