Striking the balance: food sovereignty and the question of aid

After running the London Marathon last year, I have to admit I felt smug. 26.2 miles – not everybody can do that. However, I was abruptly removed from my high horse when I spent the next three months living in rural Madagascar. There I met fishermen who thought nothing of running the sixteen miles from town to the sea, and sixteen miles back – carrying their catch! – every morning before lunchtime.

The fish in the seas on the coast of the Anosy region in south-east Madagascar, where I was based, are more than just food. They are livelihoods, a way of life. In a region where 90% of people live below the poverty line, and where over 50% of children in some villages suffer from growth defects caused by malnutrition, the nutritional value of fish is near priceless. However, it is also completely out of the financial reach of most people.

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