Participatory extension for empowerment: Paradoxes unboxed in the fishery sector

Henry Y. Goltiano


The study looked at levels of participation in the extension approach of the NGO tapped to implement coastal resource management under the Fishery Sector Program and the Fisheries Resource Management Project (FSP-FRMP) in Leyte, Philippines and whether participatory extension led to the empowerment of fishers. The Spearman Ranks Correlation Test showed that participation and empowerment were correlated with correlation coefficient rs=0.30125, which represents weak correlation. Respondents’ participation and empowerment levels were low due to several factors that included demoralizing attitude of local government officials, disruption in FSP-FRMP implementation, overassertiveness of NGO staff, squabbling among program implementers, and fisherfolk’s sense of the futility of their efforts. Respondents saw participatory extension as a hollow process that pretended to give small fishers control over management of fishery resources, when in fact the elite continued to dominate. It was concluded that participatory extension may or may not promote empowerment, depending on several factors. Participatory extension was inadequate in bringing about true empowerment, because true empowerment calls for the revamp of socioeconomic-political structure that acts against the interest of poor fishers. With externally-initiated development programs being time-bound, NGOs implementing them are forced by expediency to accomplish fund-provider-set targets on time, thus disregarding time-consuming participatory processes.

Keywords: coastal resource management, NGOs, indifference, FSP-FRMP, catalysts to participation, barriers to participation

Annals of Tropical Research 45(1):36-60(2023)
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