A report prepared by the GOM/FAO/UNDP Chambo Fisheries Research project
THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE CHAMBO FISHERIES OF THE SOUTH-EAST ARM OF LAKE MALAWI, THE UPPER SHIRE RIVER AND LAKE MALOMBE
FI:DP/MLW/86/013, Field document 13, July 1991
Marina Mdaihli & Steve Donda
For bibliographic purposes this document should be cited as follows:
Mdaihli, M and S. Donda. 1991 The role of women in the Chambo fisheries of the south-east arm of Lake Malawi, the Upper Shire River and Lake Malombe. GOM/UNDP/FAO Chambo Fisheries Research Project, Malawi. FI:DP/MLW/86/013, Field Document 13: 9p.
This report was prepared during the course of the Chambo Fisheries Research project. The conclusions and recommendations given in the report are those considered appropriate at the time of its preparation. They may be modified in the light of further knowledge gained at subsequent stages of the project.
The designations employed and the presentation of the material in the document do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal or constitutional status of any country, territory or sea area, or concerning the delimination of frontiers.
Map showing the project's working area and statistical divisions (minor strata).
FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
Mangochi, Malawi, July 1991
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Map of project area
3. THE ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE OF FEMALE HEADED HOUSEHOLDS IN FISHING COMMUNITIES
- TWO CASE STUDIES -
3.1. Female headed households in Namalaka
3.2. Female headed households in Chapola
4. FISHERIES - A SOURCE OF INCOME FOR WOMEN AT PRESENT?
Women in the project's working area are not actively involved in boat based fishing operations. Female participation in fish trading is low and appears to be a rather recent development. Only 15% of the fish traders are females. The main factors that prevent females from taking up those activities are the traditional patterns of labour division, the lack of start-up capital and the limited access to the resource. The majority of the female fish traders are heads of households.
Female fish traders are less targetted on Chambo, the most valuable fish caught in the project region. The economic performance of female and male fish traders who serve the traditional sector of the fishery is similar in terms of working capital, profit per fish trading trip, fish processing methods and equipment. Females are rarely found in the small group of rich fish traders with more than K1000 working capital and more than K600 profit per fish trading trip.
Apart from female fish traders, female heads of households in general would be seriously affected by a ban of gears, e.g. the Kambuzi seine net and the Nkacha net, which catches the smaller food fish such as Kambuzi. Kambuzi is a substantial part of the diet of the rural poors. Households, headed by females, belong to the poorest of the poor in fishing communities. In many cases they do not have a regular cash income, and if they do, their mean monthly income does not reach K20. Their crop production is very often only sufficient for 4–5 months after harvest.