Fish pond improving women’s lives in Mwanza
Through support from the project, Government has incorporated and mainstreamed SLM principles in three (3) policies namely Water Resources Policy (2013), Fisheries Policy (2013) and Forestry Policies (2013). This has seen the construction of fish ponds in the districts where the project is being implemented.
- The group has so far harvested 41kg or fish which they have sold for about $100.
- A total of about 42,000 hectares has now been put to SLM across the 4 SLM targeted districts
- A total of 9452 hectors has been achieved in Mwanza districts.
- Mwanza has 12,000 direct beneficiaries and 7000 indirect beneficiaries.
- Projections show that the project would be able to achieve about 70,000 hectares under SLM by December 2015 through the adoption of land use planning and natural regeneration in most of the public and customary forest land
Tithandizane club consists of 11 members (women) who are managing a fish pond under the Sustainable Land Management (SLM) project. The group started in 2013 as a community club which looks at development programs of the area.
The group has so far harvested 41kg or fish which they have sold for about $100. The group is well-organized, with members having established a revolving fund to facilitate access to capital. Members of the club borrow this money at an interest of 20% which is payable per month, and with this, they have started small scale businesses.
Rosemary Chidutsa, a wife and mother of five, is one of the women who has a story to tell as far as the benefits of fish farming are concerned.
“Before we started this, I was finding it hard to support my family. I depended on my husband to provide for our household even though he does not work. We are both farmers, but we were not getting enough yield to support our family” explained Rosemary.
The topography of Mwanza district is mountainous and hilly with several areas having slopes of more than 12 degrees and no large areas of flat land. Mwanza district has mostly shallow and rocky soils which makes it hard for farmers to harvest enough crops, unless they have enough fertilizers and are practicing modern farming methods. As far as SLM is concerned, Mwanza has 12,000 direct beneficiaries and 7000 indirect beneficiaries.
Rosemary took a loan of $12 from the group and started selling vegetables. Now she has a capital of $50, from which she has managed to pay school fees for her daughter ($11.25 per term) who is in secondary school. “It is my wish to see my daughter finish school and get a formal job so that she can take up the responsibility of educating her siblings” she said.
Rosemary is also one of the members who are practicing irrigation farming, the pond is close to her garden such that she uses the water from the pond to water her garden. With this intervention, she is able to harvest twice a year. “This is planting season, most of the maize in the fields are not yet ready for harvesting. But as you have seen, I am harvesting the maize which I planted near the pond. I will sell some of it and buy some necessities for my family while we also eat some as we are waiting for the actual harvest time. My family never runs out of food these days” said Rosemary.
According to the UNDP Project Coordinator, Mr. Amon Kabuli, the importance of the project to the country’s economy cannot be over-emphasized. It is the basis for economic development as it addresses issues that are of critical importance to the power generation of the country whilst also preserving the livelihoods of many millions of people in the country.
Concurring with both Kabuli and Rosemary is the area’s Village Headman commended the good work that the women are doing in the area, “Let me commend the government and UNDP in particular for bringing such a programme to us. These women have really been empowered economically. We now eat fresh fish from this pond, said GVH Kapesi. “People’s lives have improved as they are able to buy and eat fish which was never the case before” added the Village Headman.
Livelihood approach to SLM such as bee keeping, fish ponds as a means of incentivizing conservation efforts in the communities is a viable strategy. Livelihoods approach to Sustainable Land Management is critical to enable communities continue getting income while encouraging or enhancing the adoption of land management.
A total of about 42,000 hectares has now been put to SLM across the 4 SLM targeted districts. Of these 16,796 has been achieved in Balaka district, while 13092 has been achieved in Blantyre district. A total of only 2,605 has been achieved in Neno while about 9452 has been achieved in Mwanza districts. However, according to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Management (Environmental Affairs Department) December, 2014 report, projections show that the project would be able to achieve about 70,000 hectares under SLM by December 2015 through the adoption of land use planning and natural regeneration in most of the public and customary forest land.