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Aquaculture for improving productivity, income, nutrition and women's empowerment in low‐ and middle‐income countries: A systematic review and meta‐analysis

Constanza Gonzalez Parrao, Shannon Shisler, Marta Moratti, Cem Yavuz, Arnab Acharya, John Eyers and Birte Snilstveit

Campbell Systematic Reviews, 2021, vol. 17, issue 4

Abstract: Background A steady increase in the international production and consumption of fish has positioned aquaculture as a development option. Previous literature has highlighted the potential of aquaculture to improve economic, nutritional and gender equality outcomes, however, the evidence on the effectiveness of these programmes remains unclear. Objectives The review assessed whether aquaculture interventions increase the productivity, income, nutrition, and women's empowerment of individuals. We additionally aimed to identify barriers and facilitators that could affect the effectiveness of these interventions, and the cost‐effectiveness of such programmes. Methods We searched for experimental and quasi‐experimental studies focused on low‐ and middle‐income countries. We used standard methodological procedures expected by The Campbell Collaboration for the data collection and analysis. Results We identified 21 impact evaluations assessing the effect of 13 aquaculture interventions in low‐ and lower‐middle income countries. Twelve of these studies have a high risk of bias. Aquaculture interventions lead to a small increase in the production value, income, total expenditures and food consumption of participants. The limited availability of evidence prevented us from assessing other nutritional and women's empowerment outcomes. We identified barriers and facilitators affecting the programmes' set up, the participation of beneficiaries, and the level of productive activities. Insufficient cost data hindered full comparisons across programmes. Conclusions The review suggests a lack of rigorous evidence assessing the effectiveness of aquaculture programmes. Future research could focus on evaluating nutrition and women's empowerment impacts, promoting reporting standards, and the use of cost data to continue building quality evidence around aquaculture interventions.

Date: 2021
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