Processing is the least profitable segment of the Value Chain (worth USD 591 profit per processor per year and largely carried out by women as a component of the FISH4ACP Project aimed to empower women around the Lake Tanganyika and surrounding water bodies, it was revealed here.

Hashim Muumin is FAO Tanzania's FISH4ACP National Professional Officer discloses that more attention will be paid to gender constraints and opportunities, allowing the increased participation of women and increased share of direct value captured by women. “To this end, leadership training for women, awareness raising on gender equity, and a gender study will be conducted to support the design and implementation of upgrading activities in a gender sensitive manner,” articulates Hashim Muumin in an exclusive interview to mark the world women day in 2023.

According to FAO Tanzania’s FISH4ACP, the Project is making sure that there are enough gendered based Beach Management Unit (BMU) leadership that are immediate community leadership in each fish landing sites in Lake Tanganyika or any other water bodies. The Project has also invested quite a number of awareness and communication materials for conservation of the lake and behavioural changes activities that will help to reduce gender related challenges in Lake Tanganyika fisheries value chains.

Furthermore, the Project also is focusing on climate changes adaptations techniques specifically on processing techniques that uses less firewood or using green energy which is less costly and environmentally friend.

Apart from raising awareness of water level that causes drowning of major fish landing sites in Kigoma, the project agreed to focus on supporting 10 BMUs in Lake Tanganyika coast where a special focus will be invested on training on conservation of the lake, monitoring control and surveillances (MCS), community management techniques and improving compliance of fisheries regulations in Lake Tanganyika.

In another development, the project launched Tanzania fish workers association, Lake Tanganyika chapter in 2022 which is good platform that unite women in the sector and help to fight for their rights and even join effort in accessing potential markets for their processed products and credits for improving their businesses. Currently, the Project is also finalizing gender constraints and opportunities in Lake Tanganyika fisheries which will come with strategies to reduce those challenges facing women and youth in fisheries sectors.

The challenges identified during the world women day (March 8th, 2023) related with many others upsetting this fisheries value chain including gender based violence, sexual harassment, family burden, theft, divorce, early pregnancies, child marriage, lack of access to credits, land ownership, access to markets and security.

Contrary to the women setbacks, there are some glimpses of opportunities they can boast to attain including the existence of FISH4ACP Project, supports from the Government especially Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, as well as an establishment of TAWFA and willingness of microfinancing institution to provide friendly credits with less interest rate.

For self-management, TAWFA is like any other association with its own constitution and standard operating procedures that help women organizations to operate smoothly around water bodies. However, they get strong supports from Gender desk of the Ministry of Livestock and fisheries as well as other development partners including FAO and the Nature Conservancy (TNC). Besides, FAO supported the establishment and initial trainings on women’s right and leadership, thus, Processors and women in fisheries are joining the association willingly.

According to the group leadership, special joining fees will be set by leaders and members that will help to support their movement. This is just beginning and project believes that is for development sustainability initiative and always better future for TAWFA association since they have all supports they need to reach when they want to go and achieve.

During the world women day the TAWFA Lake Tanganyika Chapter had capacity building interventions including training of TAWFA leader and women training on their rights, performing demonstrations aimed at awareness creation on gender-based violence and constraints. More training was focused on opportunity study in the Lake Tanganyika and training on better techniques for reducing post-harvest loses in Lake Tanganyika.

Additionally, the Project plans to train women and other actors in better business model across Lake Tanganyika fisheries value chain, train women in different aspect that seemed as challenges, unlocking gender opportunities that are in project level, train women in improved processing methods and building facilities for processing fisheries products from Lake Tanganyika.

So far the Project has identified 96 groups of women in Lake Tanganyika that are willing to accept improved technology brought out by FISH4ACP in Tanzania. Some members of the groups have started to receive trainings across the three regions (namely Kigoma, Rukwa and Katavi) and currently, the project has plans in place to support the women based organizations to implement their action plans developed during the trainings.

Also project is going to give additional trainings on better processing technology that will help to reduce post-harvest loses in Lake Tanganyika fisheries value chain. Additionally, Better Business Model (BBM) is something that women in Lake Tanganyika will be trained in the coming months where they will be able to come up with business plan for accessing credits in their local microfinancing institutions. After training and accessing credits, women will be able to buy improved processing facilities that will help them in producing quality products for the premium markets exist in Tanzania and regional markets,” FAO Tanzania’s FISH4ACP National Professional Officer, Hashim Muumin elaborates in an exclusive interview with CPC Blogger.

According to Muumin, the project is going to develop further strategies that will help to reduce gender related challenges and also improve gender issues in Lake Tanganyika fisheries value chain. So far over 500 women were directly beneficiaries of the project through trainings and project plans to reach to over 10,000 women through different trainings including on fish processing and handling techniques, leadership, organizations, women rights, business models, access to credits and marketing. Some of them will benefit with processing and handling facilities.

People in Lake Tanganyika received the project with good hope that is going to provide better processing technologies that will help them in reducing post-harvest loses that has been there for ages. Women are very strong in Lake Tanganyika, they are buying 95% of the products from the lake and over 87% of processors are women, in other words they runs the fisheries business of the Lake, lets us join effort in supporting more women and girls in fisheries sector.


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