Marked by its barren lands due to persistent droughts, the arid expanse of Sudan’s Red Sea State is home to Beja pastoralists. While poverty is deeply rooted in the lives of these people, the ECOFISH programme has partnered with the SOS Sahel organisation in order to breathe new life into the forgotten art of fishing.

Hidden treasures

For generations, the Beja people have roamed these lands as nomads. With fewer places for animals to graze and not enough food, the community realised they couldn’t rely solely on land alone. Despite the proximity to the bountiful Red Sea coast, fishing remained an untapped resource.

Recognising the potential of the coastal communities, the ECOFISH programme, in partnership with SOS Sahel, devised a bold solution to address the systemic challenges affecting the region.

Sailing towards prosperity

With the goal of improving economic resilience and food security, the project set out to equip the fishermen with the tools, knowledge, and resources they needed to thrive in an ever-changing environment. Indeed, modernising the artisanal fishing sector along the northern Sudanese Red Sea Coast was key to empowering the local fishermen.

Training became the cornerstone of change. Artisan fishers, once confined to shallow waters, could now use new techniques and practices for deep-sea fishing. Onboard handling techniques, fish preservation methods, and the use of modern navigation devices became their allies in the quest for a better future.

Waves of empowerment

Because women play an integral role in the fishing communities, they were trained in fish processing techniques, equipped with tools, and empowered to take their place as equal partners in the fishing industry.

Another riveting aspect of the programme is its approach to partnership. By engaging local communities as active participants in the development process, the project shattered the traditional donor-recipient dynamic. Through cost-sharing mechanisms and collaboration with private-sector suppliers, fishermen became stakeholders in their own success, contributing 42% of the costs of fishery packages.

Stream of success 

The outcomes were truly remarkable. Production quality soared, with zero fish price loss recorded for the first time. Access to funding services became a reality for 128 fishermen, unlocking new avenues for growth and investment. Finally, 435 fishermen who were once tethered to traders, gained newfound independence. Ali, a weathered veteran of the sea, is one of them.  With the project’s support, he transformed from a struggling fisherman into a savvy entrepreneur, his boat now laden with bountiful catches that sustained not only his family but also his dreams for the future.

These initiatives have not only transformed livelihoods but also gave a new purpose to the community. Through perseverance, innovation, and a shared commitment to change, they have cast a net of hope, drawing in a future filled with promise and possibility.