This document will help the reader understand the complexity of coastal livelihoods. It focuses on the emergence of alternative livelihoods (also known as alternative income generating activities – AIGs), examining the role they have played in contributing to sustainable natural resource use and management in marine and coastal environments. The document ends by recommending a number of steps that can be followed to help practitioners working with coastal communities identify appropriate interventions to achieve sustainable coastal livelihoods.
The need for sustainable livelihoods for coastal communities in the Western Indian Ocean is critical. Population growth rate continues to increase, while marine resource stocks continue to dwindle. Even where suitable fisheries management systems are in place, there are simply too many people fishing too few fish. Alternative livelihoods are seen as essential for both the development of coastal communities and for the conservation of marine and coastal biodiversity and ecosystems. This study looks at the emerging literature on alternative livelihoods in order to build a better understanding on what benefits and opportunities exist with the introduction of alternative livelihoods in coastal areas. The study has been conducted under the IUCN Western Indian Ocean Marine Biodiversity Conservation Project in order to document experience and best practice in the WIO region on implementing alternative livelihood projects.