Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Fish for food project bonds East communities

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By BENEDICT TEMBO

The ‘Fish for Food Security’ (F4F) project has not only enhanced sustainable fish farming for people of Katete and Petauke districts in Eastern
Their praise for the German Technical Cooperation and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Zambia is thus not in vain. Through the fish for food project, villagers have appreciated team work and the art of fishing imparted by GIZ and WWF.

Petrol Jere of Makwenda village in Katete district is chairperson of the fishermen and acknowledges that the vilkagers never knew how to catch
“When GIZ and WWF started teaching us, that’s when we realised we were doing it incorrectly. Previously, we used to catch fish throughout the year, using improper fishing nets thus jeopardising our children’s future (by wiping out all the fish),” Mr Jere said

He is among the many fishermen that GIZ and have benefited from training in sustainable fishing by WWF.

“The lessons really helped and so we put in our all in learning. without those lessons we wouldn’t be good at fishing. We learned to fish only twice in a week (to allow the fish to breed) and the recommended size of the nets not to catch small fish (for continuity),” he said.
Mr Jere said such opportunities come once in a lifetime, hence the need to acquire the knowledge.

By fishing sustainably, Mr Jere and his members can sell some fish and retain the rest for consumption. “The money I get from the sells helps me to buy things I need at home,” he said.

Sustainable fishing has significantly improved fish stock which is now available in the dam all the time.

“You can even see the fish in the side of the dam. There is a guard to help with protecting the dam and allowing people to fish on the right days. Every chief has given rules on how to use the dams in their areas ,”Mr Jere says

Edwin Raphael Mbewe who is Ntambo dam chairperson in Katete is grateful to government for allowing GIZ, WWF and the ZGF to enlighten the community about the importance of dams.

“We are saying thank you to these organisations because there was ignorance. But because of their help, there is unity. People have learnt a lot lot and acquired knowledge of how to take care of dams, how to fish and how to work accordingly,” Mr Mbewe says.

He says these organisations have taught people in his area lot as there was no unity between the community and the headmen, even between the dam committee and fisheries and other organisations such as the Water Resources Management Authority, the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock and the Forest Department

“But because of GIZ and WWF we now have unity. They have connected us to people who we need and this has helped work well,” Mr Mbewe says.
Catherine Simukoko, a fisheries technician in the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock in Petauke district says the impact of fish and food security has significantly improved.

Mrs Simukoko says previously, the dam management committee had no knowledge of record keeping, accounting, leadership, and how to use correct gear. She says with implementation of the fisheries management, they are now seeing tangible impacts on the community such that fish production in dams has improved.

“The patrols around the dam by the dam management committees have increased resource mobilisation. The dam management committees are able to mobilise resources and able to maintain and manage the dams. This impacts are tangible,” Mrs Simukoko says. She says the committees are also able to sensitise the entire community.

“So this information is on every ear within the community, thus everybody is taking a role in managing the dams. The tangible results that have been seen in the communities is that food security has improved and catches have improved making fish available for customers to buy and for consumption to be high,” Mrs Simukoko says.

As a result, protein intake has improved starting from the children, thus reducing kwashokor in children.

“We have seen that fishermen, fish traders and value chain in trading of fish has equally improved and we can see that the traders are able to trade, pay school fees for their children and they are able to also improve their livelihoods through the sales of fish. We have seen the availability of fish in the communities through the work of the dam management committees,” she says

Ms Simukoko says these are the tangible effects they have seen as a result of the correct use of fish gear.

“Previously, it was very difficult for people to adhere to the use of correct fishing gear but we have seen communities graduating from the ignorance that they had because of the knowledge and capacity which has been given to communities through the GIZ and the WWF working together with the Department of Fisheries and other line government departments such as Department of Water Resource Management Development, the Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Forestry and others,” she says.

WWF Project Field Officer for Eastern Province James Mbewe says WWF Zambia has, since January 2021 been implementing the ‘Fish for Food’ in the eastern province of Zambia, funded by GIZ.

Mr Mbewe says the project focuses on the sustainable fisheries and natural resources management of small water bodies in the Eastern Province, improving food security, nutrition, and natural resources management.

He says to set a baseline for this work, WWF Zambia, with support from ZGF, conducted a capacity assessment of all the Dam Management Committees manning the various selected dams.

Mr Mbewe says the review endeavored to understand the current management and ecological state of the fisheries and to provide recommendations that would strengthen and promote vital co-management approaches involving communities, traditional leaders, fishermen, women, local authorities, government departments, and value chain actors through the functioning identified and selected dam committees and sustainable management methods.
“The Dam Management Committees included Vuu, Tigone, Chimwemwe Makungwa, Mapala, Rukuzye, Lumamba, Nthambo, Bikoko, Lusowe, Kalambakuwa, and Malipa.

The validation of the information from the capacity assessment report was conducted. This approach ensured that all the DMCs became well organised with precise needs that would enhance their efficiency,” he says.

Mr Mbewe says one of the critical needs for the DMCs is capacity-building training in various disciplines including, fisheries management, dam maintenance, Active Citizenship, Leadership, Inclusive Development, and Financial Management.

“However, WWF Zambia partnered with Zambian Governance Foundation (ZGF) to support conducting some capacity development training, including Active Citizenship, Leadership, inclusive development, and Financial Management where all the governance and organisational development pieces of training have been conducted.

WWF further partnered with the Department Water Resources Development provincial team to conduct Trainer of Trainers training for district Water, Fisheries, and Agriculture Extension Officers in Dam Maintenance with the mission to prepare the officers to lead the dam maintenance training at the community level (DMCs) in their respective districts,” he says

Communal small water bodies (dams) have proved quite useful; they serve as multipurpose facilities in rural communities across Zambia.
The dams, which are directly managed and used by the communities to water their gardens and livestock, and for household use, also provide fish- a major source of protein, to the communities.

The F4F ptoject is working towards sustainable rehabilitation of dam-based fisheries and strengthening dam committees for responsible management of fisheries in selected districts.

The 10 dams that the project is working on are all functional and have dam management committees that maintain and manage the water, fish resource, and reservoirs.

Last year declared by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA).
The Food and Agriculture Organisation is the lead agency for celebrating the year in collaboration with other relevant organizations including GIZ.

The main aim of IYAFA 2022 is to raise awareness of the role of small-scale fisheries and aquaculture, strengthen science-policy interaction, empower stakeholders to take action, and build and strengthen partnerships. The GIZ F4F project, together with partners including the Department of Fisheries and WWF Zambia held a small activity in the fishing community surrounding Rukuzye and Mapala dams in Chipangali district in Eastern Province recently.

IYAFA was taken to the fishing communities in Chipangali district on April 13 last year, under the theme: “Enhancing small-scale fisheries – Improving livelihoods”. While appreciating the role played by the small-scale fisheries in contributing to the nation’s food security, the fishing community also commends the work being done by the different organizations in the fisheries and aquaculture sector.

The event had several activities including role plays that focused on issues surrounding the management of dams in the two fishing communities and a picture charade relating to fisheries management.

The event attracted over 100 people that live around Rukuzye and Mapala dams.

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