The fisheries sector in the Gambia: trade, value addition and social inclusiveness, with a focus on women

This analytical report - part of UNCTAD’s activities on trade, gender and development - is intended to accompany the Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS) Update for The Gambia: Harnessing Trade for Growth and Employment, carried out under the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) for trade-related assistance for Least Developed Countries.

It sets out a detailed analysis of the fisheries sector and its prospects for value-addition and social inclusiveness, with a focus on women. The intention is to capture all the information generated through the DTIS Update process, and disseminate this knowledge to a broader audience.

Case study on the Gambia

The relationship between trade and gender is highly contextual and country-specific, as the gender effects of trade depend on the specificities of individual economic sectors and countries. However, it is at times possible to extrapolate some general patterns that are likely to be found across countries.

The Gambian case study points to three critical dimensions that should be taken into account when promoting fish-export-oriented policies as a pro-poor strategy:

  1. The existence of gender-specific patterns in the processing and marketing of fresh and cured fish products.

  2. The resultant, gender-differentiated impacts of a commercial, export-oriented strategy in the fisheries sector.

  3. The need for trade policy responses that are gender-specific and redistributive.

The fisheries sector is a critical entry point for poverty alleviation in The Gambia. It provides a source of revenue and foreign exchange earnings for the country; but also contributes importantly to food and livelihood security, particularly for the poor.

The sector is the third largest food provider - after agriculture and livestock - and plays a significant role from a nutritional standpoint, being the main supplier of animal protein in the diets of most Gambians.

In the sector, men and women tend to produce rather distinctive products, operate on different scales, and serve different markets. This results in rather specific gender-based trade patterns throughout the chain.

Women are the predominant dealers involved in the domestic marketing of fresh and cured fish products; while export of the frozen and smoked-dry products is mainly carried out by men.

The acknowledgement of these gender dimensions is critical when designing policies geared towards upgrading the fisheries sector in The Gambia.