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Tanzania welcomes network for empowering women in Lake Tanganyika fisheries

FISH4ACP supports efforts for greater gender equality across the sardine, sprat and perch fisheries value chain

27 July 2022, Kigoma – The Tanzanian Women Fish Workers Association (TAWFA) chapter for Lake Tanganyika was launched, with support from the FISH4ACP project in collaboration with the Ministry of Livestock in Fisheries.

The TAWFA chapter will lay the groundwork for greater gender equality across the Lake Tanganyika fisheries value chain and promote women's participation in fisheries activities. It will also serve as a platform for connecting with other potential opportunities through the FISH4ACP project, which is in line with the National Plan of Action for the Implementation of Small-Scale Fisheries in Tanzania and the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA 2022).

The launch event was officiated by Stephen Lukanga, Acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, and was attended by Oliva Mkumbo, National Fisheries Sector Coordinator, FAO Tanzania, Yahya Mgawe, the chairperson of National taskforce team for implementation of national small scale fisheries guideline of FAO, representatives from local government authorities, fisher folks, fish processers and other stakeholders from across the fisheries value chain.

During the launch event, female processors discussed the challenges they face on a daily basis including financial constraints, a lack of leadership skills, a lack of family supports, a lack of trust from family and leaders, a lack of entrepreneurial and market skills, lack of technical skills in fish handling and processing. The gender specialist from the African Women fish workers Network’s (AWfishNET) Editrudith Lukanga supervised a focus group discussion in which women expressed their major concerns about the sector.

"We applaud the establishment of a TAWFA chapter in Lake Tanganyika," said Beatrice Mbaga, Chairperson of the TAWFA Tanzania. "We have a large number of women processors, but we have lacked a platform to unite and discuss our issues over the years. The TAWFA chapter will allow us to perform our activities in this water body properly and have our voices heard," she said. 

A number of activities were carried out in the run-up to the TAWFA launch, including the establishment of a gender desk at the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, and the FISH4ACP project has developed an upgrading strategy that includes a component that focuses on women's opportunities and constraints in the fisheries value chain, as well as how to address them.

The Lake Tanganyika fisheries value chain is entirely artisanal and the sprat, sardine, and perch value chain in Tanzania is one of 12 value chains chosen through a competitive process for program implementation. The value chain was selected in accordance with the Government Agenda for Making Lake Tanganyika Sprats, Sardines, and Perch, Strategic Export Products.

The FISH4ACP project has begun mobilizing groups of processors who have expressed an interest in learning improved processing techniques, and because the majority of the group members are women, it will be an excellent starting point for increasing women's participation in decision-making and organization.

"According to the FISH4ACP value chain analysis, Lake Tanganyika fisheries leads in exporting fisheries products from artisanal processors, with 87 percent being women," said Stephen Lukanga, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries. "The Ministry will support women in the fisheries sector through the TAWFA platform, which is directly linked to our ministry's gender desk, and all women's opportunities and challenges will be processed through that desk," he said.

Beyond fishing
"Connecting women processors in Lake Tanganyika is one big step ahead of what FAO would like to implement in this value chain through the FISH4ACP project," said Hashim Muumin, FAO Tanzania's FISH4ACP National Professional Officer. "Capacity building in various aspects of the value chain will follow, beginning with improved processing techniques, fish handling, a better business model, group organization and management, among many others planned to begin this year," he said.

FISH4ACP is a global fish value chain development initiative of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) implemented by FAO with funding from the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Through the FISH4ACP project, FAO is ensuring that better food, nutrition, production, and environmental plans are successfully implemented, in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), leaving no one behind.