Small-scale coastal fisheries contribute directly and indirectly to the food and nutrition security of fisher households. Fishers can apportion part of their catch for home consumption, or use income earned to purchase staples or other desired foods. Fish are an important animal source protein, and rich in micronutrients and lipids essential for the cognitive development of children and for adult health. Despite these contributions, food insecurity remains prevalent in many low and middle income fish-producing countries, and fish has been largely absent in the development of strategies to reduce micronutrient deficiencies.
This paper reports findings from an exploration of the factors leading to food and nutritional insecurity in three coastal communities in eastern Indonesia, focusing on the contribution of fish to the diets and nutrition of women and children. The research was undertaken as a mixed-methods case study. The study found that over fifty percent of mother-child pairs failed to meet the minimum recommended dietary diversity for a nutritionally adequate diet, and, while fish was the main animal-source food in mothers’ diets, the introduction of fish to diets of infants and young children was delayed due to fears of allergies and illnesses.
Given the emerging trend for ‘nutrition-sensitive interventions’ to improve the livelihoods and wellbeing of fisher households, these results highlight the need for analysis of intra-household sharing of fish, and the development of culturally-appropriate strategies to improve the quality of complementary foods in infant and young child diets. Such research and strategies will help maximise the impact of future livelihoods interventions programmes.