Climate & Environment

    Marine Biodiversity

    Food & Nutrition

Post-Doctoral Fellowships

United Kingdom

Integrating Aquaculture and Capture Fisheries to Combat Hunger in Sierra Leone and Other Parts of Africa

This research project is one of the selected projects from the Joint Call for Projects by the AXA Research Fund and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO) on Coastal Livelihood.
As the world’s population grows, more than one in every seven people suffers from chronic hunger and lack food to stay healthy.[1] Hunger and poverty are more severe in coastal areas of many African and Small Island Developing Countries[2], where climate change continues to impact on already fragile livelihoods. Sierra Leone is home to some of the poorest people on the planet. Approximately 60% of its seven million people live on less than $2 per day,[3] and 31% of its children are malnourished.[4] Three-quarters of Sierra Leone’s population is dependent on fish for food, putting a strain on wild fish stocks, which are diminishing due to climate change. Marine aquaculture could help supplement capture fisheries, improve food security, nutrition, and provide reliable sources of income. Integrating marine capture fisheries and aquaculture is crucial.

During her AXA Research Fund fellowship at the University of Leeds, Dr. Nwamaka Okeke-Ogbuafor will seek to unlock ocean-based solutions that will contribute to community resilience by eradicating hunger and generating income from fishing. She will gather the primary data in two stages. Dr. Okeke-Ogbuafor will use Citizen Science, an effective engagement through public participation, in the first stage to crowdsource ideas, questions, and the likelihood of support for various solutions, including implementing environmentally friendly aquaculture. The second stage of data collection will consist of fieldwork in the Bonthe, Tumbo, and Goderich case communities, building on the knowledge and ideas developed in the first stage.  Semi-structured face-to-face interviews and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) will be conducted in each case community, and data will be co-analyzed with stakeholders, including end users. The expected research outcome would be a co-created resilient marine food security policy that will build resilient food security and household income in coastal areas of Sierra Leone, and other African and Small Island Developing Countries where hunger and poverty are severe.

Dr. Okeke-Ogbuafor’s research project will also feed the climate risk insurance strategy to protect vulnerable coastal communities. The research will help close the data gap on climate risks by mapping out the effects of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture in various communities and how communities respond to these threats now and in the future. The findings aim to provide the first empirical data on which insurance companies can base their development of climate risk insurance and aid in improving community resilience.

December 2022

[1] FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO. 2022. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022. Repurposing food and agricultural policies to make healthy diets more affordable. Rome, FAO.

[2] Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are a distinct group of 38 UN Member States and 20 Non-UN Members/Associate Members of United Nations regional commissions that face unique social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities.



Find out more about the AXA-UNESCO Fellowships on Coastal Resilience



University of Leeds


United Kingdom