Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2008-2009 shows that Nyanza Province has the highest HIV/AIDs prevalence at 14% followed by Western and Nairobi Provinces at 7% each. It also shows that women among the age of 15-49 have the highest prevalence rate of 8% compared to men of same age at 4%.
This and other socio-economic factors have reduced women in many parts of the country to be dependent on men in the society. The most vulnerable have been those who trade in fish along the shores of Lake Victoria in Nyanza and Western Provinces. As a result, a number of organizations have partnered to educate the residents on Aquaculture as an alternative means of generating income.
A view of ponds at a station producing fingerlings in Busia
The essence of initiating this project therefore is to use fish farming as a pathway to improved economic status for women in the two provinces, with a view to enabling them acquire better living standards.
The project particularly aims to empower women economically, enhance their capacity to actively participate in decision making in their society and also discourage injustices and exploitative behaviors facing them.
This pilot project is being implemented in four regions of the two provinces namely; Busia, Funyula, Migori and Nyatike, after a successful sight survey commissioned by Kenya Women Holding through the Ministry of Fisheries.
Kenya Women Holding is spearheading the project in collaboration with the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW), Men for the Equality of Men and Women (MEW), Practical Action and the Ministry of Fisheries.
The Association of Media Women in Kenya is in charge of producing 10 pre-recorded radio programmes on the project in liaison with the other partners, to be disseminated to the locals through 20 women groups.
This involves AMWIK training 40 radio listening facilitators selected from the 20 groups in target areas on basic skills on moderating the listening sessions and write brief reports on the discussions.
Women in Nyatike during a meeting on the project
The content of the programmes include information on issues of gender based violence, women’s rights and existing legal frameworks that address such issues;
the importance of respect and inclusion of women as partners in development towards gender equality and equity; fish farming and basic information on prudent financial management of resources availed by partners within this collaboration.
The project is coming at a time when the government is decrying the increased overfishing in Lake Victoria,
while laying the blame on fishermen who it says are using wrong fishing methods that have led to massive dwindling of fish stocks in the lake.
MoF representative George Owiti explaining a point during a meeting with the women in Sori Trading Centre, Nyatike.
George Owiti, an officer in charge of fish farming at the Ministry of Fisheries in Nyanza is however optimistic about the prospects of the project.
“The programme will ensure increased food security, improve health and nutrition levels, create more employment opportunities and therefore generate more revenue for the locals.’’
There is hope that the project will enable women in the areas to rear and sell fish without going through middle men and brokers along the lake, thereby reducing sex for trade and the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS scourge.
The partners also envisage that members of the groups who directly benefit from this pilot project will reach out to other community members through sharing direct of information as well as hold joint radio listening sessions.
Successful implementation of the project will also see it rolled out to other parts of the country.