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The ‘Fish Trader+’ model: reducing female fish traders’ vulnerability to HIV

Hüsken, S.M.C. ; Heck, S.
 
Analysis from research and practice in Africa shows that fishing communities are hardly reached by HIV-related services, education, and business services, partly because of the efforts and costs involved and a lack of good practice in reaching out to these often remote areas. At the same time, fish traders, especially women, travel regularly to remote fishing camps to purchase fish. Although female fish traders may be exposed to HIV, violence and abuse in their interactions and relationships with fishermen, economic necessity keeps them in this trade. Good health among fisherfolk is a basic mainstay of productive and sustainable fisheries, providing food and income to fishing communities and the nation at large.
 
However, these benefits are severely at risk as per-capita fish supplies in several African countries are declining, and fisherfolk are among the populations most vulnerable to HIV and AIDS. Under the regional programme ‘Fisheries and HIV/AIDS in Africa: Investing in sustainable solutions,’ WorldFish conducted a socioeconomic assessment in the Kafue Flats fishery in Zambia to identify factors related to HIV/AIDS vulnerability among people in the fishing communities, particularly female fish traders. The study identified a variety of factors, hence the ‘Fish Trader+’ model of intervention was developed to reduce female fish traders’ vulnerability to HIV by building on their economic rationale through the formation of savings groups. This article outlines the implementation of the Fish Trader+ model in Zambia and examines its potential to empower female fish traders so as to reduce poverty and vulnerability to HIV in fishing communities.