The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), together with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF, have launched a Technical Cooperation Project to support women and youth groups in fishing communities around Lake Victoria. The project was launch in Masaka on 30th January .
The pilot project, dubbed Integrated Livelihood Support to Fishing Communities around Lake Victoria, will benefit women and youths groups in rural poor fishing communities in Kalangala, Kalungu and Masaka districts, with an aim of empowering them to diversify their income sources in fishing and fishing–related activities.
The two-year Project, worth US$277,000 will provide training and inputs to help beneficiaries to manage economically viable and sustainable interventions in their interest, including but not limited to aquaculture and value addition options for capture fisheries.
The project comes on the heels of MAAIF’s acknowledgment of the enormous challenges affecting fishing dependent communities, especially women and youth.
The groups are marginalized, poor and with limited sustainable sources of income, because of overfishing, decline in fish stocks, illegal fishing, poor fish handling facilities and increased post-harvest losses. Unfavourably high competition for fishing grounds, brought about by overcapitalization of fishing has also contributed to this dire situation.
To address some of these challenges, the Government of Uganda instituted management reforms aimed at boosting fish stocks. The reforms, which include regulating the number of fishing vessels and gears, instituting restrictive license fees and intensified monitoring, control and surveillance of fisheries activities, have greatly limited access to fisheries resources and facilitated exclusion of some members of the community from fisheries.
Speaking during the Launch of the cooperation, Agriculture Minister Vincent Ssempijja said some of the reforms have led to exclusion of a considerable number of fishers from the fisheries, and could potentially lead to increased risk of loss of livelihoods among fishing communities.
He further stressed the need for alternative livelihoods for fishing-dependent communities in the most-affected district of Mayuge, Namayingo, Masaka and Kalangala, where majority of the affected are women and youths.
The project will support interventions aimed at promoting legal fishing methods and gears to vulnerable groups, providing non-fishing livelihood options, efficient post-harvest handling and value addition technologies, economic empowerment of women and youth through SACCOs, as well as building the capacity of the beneficiaries to sustain the benefits.
The FAO Country Representative Antonio Querido said the project beneficiary communities will be supported to boost their incomes through additional streams resulting from alternative livelihood options that are at the same time expected to reduce pressure on capture fisheries resources.
“It is our sincere hope that this project will contribute to addressing inadequate diversification of livelihood options among the rural poor fishing communities, especially women and youth, as well as improving the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises,” Querido said.