Human Ecology

, Volume 46, Issue 6, pp 831–848 | Cite as

“Fish Rescue us from Hunger”: the Contribution of Aquatic Resources to Household Food Security on the Rufiji River Floodplain, Tanzania, East Africa

  • Marie-Annick MoreauEmail author
  • Caroline J. Garaway


Inland fisheries are essential to nutrition and food security in developing countries but remain undervalued. Worldwide, studies of aquatic resource consumption are rare. We use data from a monthly survey of 40 households in a Tanzanian village over 1 year combined with qualitative methods to analyse consumption of animal aquatic resources across wealth, seasons, fishing vs. non-fishing, and male- vs. female-headed households. We find that local freshwater fish are the most frequent source of animal protein, consumed on 57% of survey days. Wealth matters, with better-off households eating fish more often and in larger daily quantities on average. Middle-ranked households catch and sell fish more often, but all households double their consumption on average on days they catch rather than purchase fish. Female-headed households rely on gifts to increase consumption. Our results emphasise the need to preserve the livelihood functions of inland fisheries in the face of increasing threats.


Inland fisheries Rural livelihoods Biodiversity for nutrition Aquatic animals Rufiji River Tanzania 



This research was funded by grants to M-A Moreau from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, University College London, the University of London Central Research Fund, the Ruggles-Gates Fund of the Royal Anthropological Institute, the British Institute in Eastern Africa, and the Parkes Foundation. We thank the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology and our partners at the Institute of Resource Assessment of the University of Dar es Salaam for facilitating this research, Katherine Homewood and the Human Ecology Research Group at UCL for their intellectual support, and two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments. A special thank you to the families who participated in this study, and to our fieldwork assistants, Karim Tenge, Idaya Ungando, and Moshi Bora.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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