Fishing in the Luangwa River has been less and less fruitful over the years – the Zambian border is being nearly depleted. Elizabeth Chileshe is a 30 year old woman who managed to overcome this problematic situation thanks to… a piece of land! Here’s an overview of her inspiring journey.

Learning curve and dedication

For a long time, the low fish stocks has been threatening the livelihood of Elisabeth, her family and her entire community in Kakaro Fish Camp, along with some other communities of the Luangwa River. In view of this desperate situation, inspired by training programs offered by the Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries Project with the support of the European Union (EU) through the ECOFISH program, she decided to set up a venture in vegetable farming.

This insightful program is delivered by ActionAid Zambia, in partnership with Keeper Zambian Foundation (KZF) and Zambia Social Forum (ZAMSOF). Its aim is to teach sustainable integrated fishing and farming, alternative livelihoods advocacy, Sexual Harassment, Exploitation and Abuse (SHEA) and entrepreneurship to the inhabitants of the region.

Today, after a year of collaboration with ActionAid Zambia, she can proudly boast about her garden of spinach, rapeseed, onions, and cabbage – seasonally planned to ensure sustainable growth. This helps her secure a source of food and income for her family as a supplement to fishing.

An exemplary lead

Like Elizabeth, many others felt empowered with new knowledge from the training sessions they received. Members of the camp started gardening and growing crops to sustain themselves during the annual fish ban from December to March as well as provide an alternative source of food and income.

Kakaro Fish Camp is now an example for the entire fishing community. Not only has their gardens reduced the poverty level and improved food security, it has also allowed the inhabitants to send children to school and look after them – especially girls, often victims of sexual assaults and early childhood marriages.

From depleted rivers to fully stocked fish ponds

Besides vegetable farming, as another approach to increase food security, the Kakaro Fish Camp area has built a fish pond on the Luangwa Riverbank. An asset that many people have been impressed with, motivating them to build their own!

Thanks to the training sessions of ActionAid Zambia, Elisabeth, along with two other members of the fish camp now have the knowledge, capacity and responsibility of training others: they are assisting several other communities in the area, helping them prepare and dig their own fishpond.

A great achievement for Elizabeth, who can now fish and farm to make ends meet!