Promoting An Enabling Environment for Women Networks on Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in Nile Upstream - Lake Victoria, Tanzania
Published: 10 April 2023
The process has strengthened Tanzania Women Fish Workers Association (TAWFA)'s capacity through the provision of leadership training for its members, their capacity and commitment to engage in co-management systems that improve conservation outcomes, climate adaptation measures, and enhanced food security; and conducting elections of leaders from the districts.
In the years 2021 and 2022, the Environmental Management and Economic Development Organization (EMEDO) - a member of the Tanzania Nile Discourse Forum (TNDF) conducted a study on Women’s Role, Struggles and Strategies across the Fisheries Value Chain in the Lake Victoria—Tanzania. The study was prioritized through research conducted by Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries in 2020. In the Tanzania side of Lake Victoria, the current fish production figure is around 422,859.78 metric tons per year, with approximately 95 percent of fish sourced from small-scale fisheries and the remaining 5 percent from large-scale commercial fishing. The sector employs more than 4.5 million Tanzanians who engage in earning their livelihood from fish and related fish products. Women constitute a significantly big number of small-scale fisherfolk, which means it is a self-employed job and provides direct food security, nutrition and other multiplier effect to the community. Therefore, Tanzanian women have a big role in the fishing sector; and this prompted EMEDO to conduct the study on “Women’s role, struggles and strategies across the Fisheries Value Chain in Lake Victoria -Tanzania”, with the aim to understand the challenges, opportunities and other important spheres that surrounds them as women in fisheries.
The Study Objectives Were:
- To empower small-scale fisheries communities with a view to contribute to more sustainable and climate resilient livelihoods and food systems.
- To stir the implementation of FAO Voluntary guidelines for securing sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the context of food security and poverty alleviation (SSF guidelines), and to appreciate the need for empowering women in the sector;
- To promote dialogue and collaboration between and among small-scale artisanal fishers, fish farmers, fish workers, governments, and other key partners along the value chain; and to further strengthen their capacity to enhance sustainability in fisheries and aquaculture and to enhance their social development and well-being.
Findings From the Study Underlined a Series of Challenges Including:
Women in Mwanza wade through water to access fish boats to buy fish for resale.
- Poor infrastructure at landing sites and insecure fisheries resources which hugely affect women participation as they may not be brave enough to face some challenges as men do
- Women face time limitations due to their domestic duties overlapping with their fishing activities
- Lack of educational/training opportunities and development programs for women in fisheries unlike men
- Lack of access to financing, as many women have no collateral needed to access tangible loans. The interest rates on the loans is also high for the women to afford repayment.
- Pressure from the rapidly growing population with increased competition for access to fisheries’ resources
- Pressure from market competition and export markets that marginalize women to access the opportunities available in the market
- Climate change and other social, cultural, political, economic barriers and poor institutional frameworks.
The findings stirred the idea to establish a national network of women in fisheries namely Tanzania Women Fish Workers Association (TAWFA) in June 2021. The network has proven to be a safety net for women where they can rely on social capital including networks that increase trust, ability to work together, access to opportunities, membership for women groups in small scale fisheries and resilient approaches to address the adverse impacts of climate change.
EMEDO conducted consultative meetings with Tanzania Women Fish Workers Association (TAWFA) in the Lake-zone regions of Mwanza, Kagera, Mara, Simiyu, and Geita to identify the prevalent opportunities, challenges and disparities; and proposed for scalable solutions that will generate solutions for food security and climate resilience. Through consultations EMEDO engaged with the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock and Local Government Authorities to raise awareness on the challenges and jointly plan for promoting sustainable outcomes for households including food security.
Significance and Impact of the Interventions
TAWFA - Lake Zone leaders at a regional consultative meeting in Mwanza
The process has strengthened TAWFA’s capacity through the provision of leadership training for its members, their capacity and commitment to engage in co-management systems that improve conservation outcomes, climate adaptation measures, and enhanced food security; and conducting elections of leaders from the districts.
Regional and zonal level leaders who are focal representatives of the network have promoted the women’s bargaining power, as network members are now informed of the market across the regions.
TNDF has been contributing towards facilitation of capacity strengthening in TAWFA interventions through its member - EMEDO. In this particular project, TNDF is using its vast experience in network formation to support TAWFA. TNDF continues to participate in TAWFA stakeholder forums for knowledge sharing, expertise and visibility.
Women sorting small sardines/dagaa at Busekela landing site in Musoma, Tanzania
Environmental Management and Economic Development Organization (EMEDO) is a non -profit organization established in 2005. EMEDO is a member of the Tanzania Nile Discourse Forum (TNDF) and is based in Mwanza Region on the shores of Lake Victoria. EMEDO aims to reach out, listen and encourage voices, and advocate for needs of rural communities. The organization has grown organically in direct response to lessons learnt along the way, grounded in the conviction that real and lasting change depends on commitment, ownership and self-reflection. EMEDO’s main activities focus on enhancing capacities of community groups to effectively mobilise, having their voices heard, rights recognized and respected, and to influence local, national and international policies that affect their rights of access, use and control of natural resources for improved livelihoods. EMEDO operates under 3 thematic areas which are; Sustainable Fisheries Management; Water Sanitation and Hygiene, and Environmental Management.
Project Officer , EMEDO
Tanzania Nile Discourse Forum
Project Officer , EMEDO
Tanzania Nile Discourse Forum