MagegoDeclining fish stocks and livelihood diversification among fishing households of Mfangano Isl

CHAPTER THREE RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 3.1 Study Site The study was conducted in Mfangano Island located in Suba District, Homa-Bay County of Western Kenya. Mfangano Island was selected on several grounds. First, it has a population which shares a strong cultural orientation and kinship ties in which the inhabitants have been living together for several centuries with those near the lakeshores deriving their livelihoods from fishing. Secondly, its geographical positioning in Lake Victoria presents a unique and interesting area of research: the Island is physically isolated and lies at the border of Kenya and Uganda right in Lake Victoria making it a strategic area that has for a long time thrived as a result of cross-border trade with Uganda in fishing activities. Finally, in spite of being the highest revenue earner from fisheries in the district, compared to agriculture, Mfangano Island has suffered from research biases, resource accessibility and poor infrastructural development. These have affected the ability of fishing households to diversify into other activities (Johnson, 2009). Most development initiatives within the district have concentrated on improving livelihoods of people engaged in farming and who live in the mainland of the district. Therefore, given the decline in fish stocks which had interrupted fishing households' livelihoods, several policy interventions had been undertaken by different stakeholders. Therefore, the site was suitable for this research to enable an understanding of livelihood diversification activities that fishing households were adopting in order to continue earning a living. In addition, livelihood diversification was being experienced in the area due to changes in the fish stock catches. 3.2 Research Design The study employed both qualitative and quantitative research designs. This was informed by the nature of the issues that were to be addressed in the study. Data collection was conducted through different methods which included: key informant interviews, household interviews and focus group discussion. The methods were important in providing rich data that was important for the study objectives. Furthermore, the use of both methods helped in checking biases that were inherent in either of the methods (Creswell, 2009). 23
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