Oil extraction and fisherfolk: Does Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Number One stand a chance in Ghana’s oil region?

Authors: Michael Acheampong*, University of South Florida, Fenda A. Akiwumi, University of South Florida
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Cultural and Political Ecology, Africa
Keywords: Ghana, Sustainable Development Goals, Fisherfolks, Political Ecology
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Directors Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number one states that access to resources is central to poverty eradication, especially among the world’s most impoverished populations. However, access by natural resource dependents is often hindered by competition between such populations and other more powerful actors. In Ghana, the oil industry threatens the livelihoods of fisherfolks through pollution and deterioration of aquatic ecosystem, and the restriction of access to traditional fishing grounds. Using political ecology as a framework and employing a mixed methods approach including surveys and interviews with fisherfolk, we argue that these threats hinder the achievement of SDG number one in communities within the oil exploitation zone. Cognizant of the unequal power relations that exist between competing interests, we show how exploitation activities impact local livelihoods. Implementation of exclusion zones is detrimental to the fishing industry and over 60% of surveyed fisherfolks reported a decrease in income since the start of the oil industry. Furthermore, the proportion of respondents that can currently meet their food needs with surplus has dropped by over 50% points from the period before the oil industry. For Ghana to meet the targets of SDG number one, it is imperative for the government to engage with fisherfolk to address their concerns and promote sustainable alternative livelihoods.

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