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Sun-dried fish production to build resilient coastal communities in Somalia

Sun-dried fish production to build resilient coastal communities in Somalia
Apr 2018

In May 2017, following decades of civil war and political upheaval, coupled with persistent and worsening drought effects, nearly half of the Somali population (6.7 million people) faced acute food insecurity. With one of the least-developed fisheries sectors – averaging one per cent of the county’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) – and the longest coastline in continental Africa, Somalia’s fisheries sector has great potential to fundamentally influence its national food security.

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) fisheries programme in Somalia contributes to improving livelihoods and food security. This promising practice explores one aspect of the fisheries programme in Somalia, which focuses on training youth and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to sun-dry fish for income generation and household consumption. The quality products are packaged and marketed into inland city markets, the fresh offcuts are cooked and eaten daily. Offcuts become a sort after commodity and have played a role in significantly improving the nutrition status in the IDP communities involved. Sun-drying of fish has been piloted in the northern coastal town of Bossaso, where IDPs are expanding new communities and face a dire need of livelihood assistance to support their predominantly female-headed households. Activities are being well recieved by coastal communities of Puntland and disadvantaged communities of the coastal city of Berbera, Somaliland.

What is sun-dried fish production and how does it contribute to building resilient livelihoods?

Sun-drying of fish requires a low initial investment while efficiently creating value-added and shelf-stable fish products for income generation and consumption. In Somalia, this practice is particularly effective given the ideal climate for natural drying, as well as the abundance of underutilized small pelagic fish. Skills in sun-drying fish have existed historically; however, 30 years of civil war has degraded the skill base, eroding access to the markets. This programme is building resilience amongst youth, IDPs and women of female-headed households through training in an improved sun-drying method, providing knowledge and empowerment to diversify household diets as well as incomes.

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