Inland Fisheries

Economic Role of Women in Fishing Communities: a Case Study of Koko, Nigeria. IDAF Technical Report No. 94.

Livelihoods, decent work & resilience

Koko fishing community is one of the major fishing communities in Nigeria. Activities within this sector are mainly controlled and affected by women. Because of the prevailing economic situation in Nigeria, many of these fishing communities face numerous problems, such as inadequacy of fish catches, spoilage, loss of income and others. In this context, this study was aimed mainly at an enumeration of sources of employment for women in the communities, a description of labour and time utilisation by women, a determination of women's daily real income and their daily activities in cash and kind and recommendations for improvement of the women's socioeconomic conditions. The study was carried out through the use of individual interviews, focus group discussions and use of secondary data between March and April, 1996. The results indicated that: women in Koko fishing communities were engaged in various income-generating activities including fishing, fishing-related activities, farming, petty trading, fashion designing, hairdressing, making of soap, powder,and other toiletries, selling of empty drums from the oil industry, mat weaving, oil prim extraction, sale of fire wood, pepper grinding, sale of locally made alcoholic drinks, kerosene, ice cream and government service the women divide their time between household chores and income-generating activities, sometimes spending up to 16 hours between both ftinctions. It is also revealed that women, children and other relatives participate in the daily household chores fish marketing and the marketing of other products is the most lucrative activity in the communities while production earns very small returns the daily real income of women is made up of income from various sources including primary and secondary activities. Also, activities in kind, though these do not directly attract income, are indirect income-generating activities for these women. For most of them, especially the fulltime house-wives, activities in kind are the only income-generating activities fisherfolk are aware of their dwindling fortunes due to inadequate capital to expand their businesses, low volume of catches and loss of income due to spoilage. These inadequacies have also negatively affected other sources of employment in the area. The study highlighted some of the problems confronting the fisherfolk as well as other categories of the working population. Some of these problems and suggested solutions include: Loss of income from fish spoilage. Technical assistance in the form of training workshops in the areas of fish handling Preservation and processing will go a long way to arrest the situation to the extent that fish spoilage due to poor handling and inadequate processing would be considerably reduced. This improvement will increase fisherfolk's income, resulting from their sales of better quality fish products e Low volume of fish production due to the lack of good working relationship and capital. This is why only 20% of the fisherfoiks belong to co-operative societies. Many of the respondents claim ignorance of the roles and functions of cooperative societies, yet it is one of the surest strategies for receiving help (financial, technical and training). Training in conflict mediation exercise would help to remove distrust and other conflict factors responsible for their lack of good working relationship. Once the conflict situation is remedied, they can come together to solve financial problems which must be undertaken through group credit and savings scheme. Training workshops on the benefits of co-operative membership is long overdue. It would assist the fisherfolk in their education vis-a-vis advantage in raising required capital and managing the funds for the purchasing of fishing nets, traps, canoes/boats and outboard engines. Transport and storage problems can be solved when people are organised into groups that cari be trained to build canoes/boats and storage boxes. Establishing trades co-operativc groups according to what they do is cssential. Using the laid down rules of co-operative societies, these trade co-operative groups will therefore use their official mandate to raise capital through their co-operatives to build and sell canoes/boats for transportation purposes. Carpenters and woodworkers trained and resident in the communities would be employed in constructing transportation canoes/boats for the use of the fisherfolk. Following closely with issues of transport and storage problems is the issue of lack of employment opportunities. Currently there are very few carpenters and woodworkers (only two men) in the fishing communities of Koko. Demand for transport canoes/boats as well as insulated ice boxes for the storage of fish products is a great opportunity for job creation for the unemployed members of the communities. Repairs and maintenance of transport canoes/boats and insulated boxes would be an essential section of the training programme to complement the life span of these activities. Therefore, more people would acquire the skills and be available to carry out orders resulting from the demand for canoes/boats and insulated boxes by the fisherfoiks. Those interested in acquiring this trade need no special skills except that they need minimum education, Their training programme will entail constructing items according to specified measurements. Thus, they need to learn how to carry out measurements, calculations, recording of information and reading instructions given to them. Service areas with low market demand for small scale enterprises (not fishing-related) such as manual mat-weaving and so on can be improved with decorative designs for local and export markets. These mats, in various sizes, will meet demands for gift items,curios, home floor and wall decor.