Coastal communities that depend on small-scale fisheries (SSFs) are poorly understood. Designing policies to address their vulnerabilities requires an understanding of the socioeconomic context in which SSFs operate. Unfortunately, that type of information is usually incomplete and dispersed in developing countries. This study seeks to close this gap by comprehensively examining the socio-demographics, assets, livelihood strategies, food security, and poverty levels of a fishing village in the Colombian Caribbean, including both fishing and non-fishing households. We collected information in the village of Barú (Cartagena) through monthly surveys from July 2018 to September 2019. The analysis follows the sustainable livelihoods approach (SLA) to understand the households’ livelihoods. Our results show that: (i) SSFs play a double role in fishing households: self-consumption and income generation. (ii) SSFs play an essential role in food security for both fishing and non-fishing households. (iii) Livelihood diversification, including multispecies fishing and activities by household members in addition to the head, is key for diversifying risk and smoothing consumption. (iv) Fishing communities face significant restrictions in access to financial markets. (v) Although fishing households are better off than non-fishing ones in terms of income, they exhibit much lower education and literacy. (vi) The whole community lacks access to essential services such as health services and water or sewage.
Keywords: sustainable livelihoods approach; small-scale fisheries; assets; poverty; education gap; food security; Colombia