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ASTF Project helping Lake Albert youth through cage fish farming

Fish cages provided by FAO under the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund (Photo: ©FAO)

Fishing is a major economic activity and a major source of livelihood for communities around Lake Albert in Uganda. Butiaba landing site, along the shores of Lake Albert in Buliisa District, Western Uganda, is not any different. There are youths, male and female, who rely mainly on fish catches from the lake for their livelihoods.  As the population at this landing site continues to grow, there is a growing pressure on this lake, shared by Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Sarah Namirimu, Fisheries Officer in charge of Butiaba landing site, says that there has been over fishing on the lake from both sides of the border with little control of illegal fishing.

As a result, fish stocks significantly reduced – so much that the fisher folk spend days and nights fishing on the lake and catch very small fish – Silver Fish, locally known as ‘mukene’, which they sell to factories that produce fish and chicken feed. This left many youth idle and unemployed.

FAO, with funding from the ASTF, engaged the youths in the communities around the lake in cage fish farming in zoned areas on Lake Albert.

According to Jacob Olwo, FAO National Fisheries and Aquaculture Officer, the need for cage farming was also instigated by the fact that the project’s targeted youth did not have land to practice aquaculture.

“Majority of our target groups don’t own land. We also didn’t want to take them away from a place they have called home for years,  so we conducted an assessment to identify spots that support cage farming on the lake,” says Olwo.

The youth were organized in groups of twenty members each and trained on cage fish farming by FAO technical personnel.  FAO also provided ten cages, fish fingerlings and feed to cater for the first phase.

The cage fish farming interventions on Lake Albert are under cost sharing basis with the groups in a four phase process. This means that,  in the first phase, FAO provided 75 percent support while the two groups ( Butiaba Fishers and Farmers Development Association (BUFITA) and Butiaba Young Fishers and Traders Association (BUFIDA)) provide 25percent. In the second phase, FAO and the groups will each contribute 50 percent while,  in the third phase,  FAO will only provide 25percent support. In the final phase FAO will not give any support.

This move is aimed at creating ownership for sustainability after the project ends – an arrangement that the members of the two groups agreed to and are in support of.

Oscar Uvon Mohamed, a member of BUFITA, says that he had abandoned fishing to ply the ‘boda boda’ (motorcycle taxi) trade because there was no more fish in the lake. Now he looks forward to the first harvest of the fish in the cages for his group.

“We plan to sell our fish once matured and we will use the money to acquire more cages.  I am also saving earnings so that in future I can buy my own cages and continue fish farming because the money I earn from ‘boda boda’ is not enough,” says Uvon.

The Fisheries Officer says the FAO support is timely and it intervened by engaging mostly young men and women who have been unemployed.

Under the project, more groups will be supported under the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture plan that seeks to make Butiaba an aquaculture park.

“Our plan is to make Butiaba an aquaculture park by being able to make our own feed because we have all the raw materials required. We also want to make our own hatchery so that we can produce our own seed and restock Lake Albert,” Olwo concludes.

 

Useful link

Kenya and FAO collaborate in reducing malnutrition, improving food security and enhancing youth employment

 

Contact: Agatha.Ayebazibwe@fao.org , Communication, FAO-Uganda

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