“Cross the river in a crowd and the crocodile won’t eat you.”
As this African adage aptly points out, a community can deal with different challenges when uniting forces. Mr. Sinyungu Evans Makandauko firmly believes it. He is a citizen of the Sesheke District in southern Zambia and leads a Community Level Fisheries Committee (CLFC). Ten similar groups have been established by ActionAid Zambia (AAZ), in association with Keepers Zambia Foundation (KZF) and Zambia Social Forum (ZAMSOF) in Sesheke District. The ultimate goal of these institutions is to improve access to food and the livelihoods of vulnerable small-scale fishing communities.
To ensure the effective and sustainable development of this project, it is essential that fishermen properly manage the fishery resources available to them. However, they cannot strive for it alone: the whole community must contribute.
This is where the CLFCs become significant. Indeed, these committees attempt to show the ropes to fishermen so that they adopt practices that promote sustainable management of fisheries as a resource. Subsequently, the committees provide them with the required tools to educate their fellow citizens. By doing so, the fishermen become empowered leaders, with a set of skills that motivates them to bring about positive change in their communities.
The committees engendered an undeniable positive impact on the Sesheke district. “Nowadays, fisheries issues are no longer solely of fishermen’s concern. Most of our traditional leaders are also convinced of the importance of the matter. They now work together with us and have, among other things, helped us to make a difference at the level of local authorities,” explains Mr. Makandauko.
This collaboration quickly led to concrete on-site action. For instance, they conducted a patrol in the fishing camps within the area, resulting in the confiscation of seven gauze nets and 1,200 meters of monofilament nets, all of which were then destroyed by court order.
Today, the fishery resources in this district are co-managed by the authorities, the fishermen’s groups, and the communities. While everything started by encouraging the use of adequate fishing equipment, there is no doubt that the objectives of these initiatives will be broadened over time, to eventually develop fishing as economic leverage and a sector that will strengthen the food security of communities in Zambia