In the Barotse Floodplain in Zambia, where rates of poverty and hunger are high, fishing is an important source of food and income for the region.
But around one-third of the region’s total fish catch is lost every year. WorldFish research shows these fish losses affect female and male fishers, processers and traders in different ways, with women processors experiencing higher post-harvest fish losses and getting less returns on their financial investments than men.
Empowering women and men fishers, processors and traders
Small-scale capture fisheries—where fishers operating from the shore or small fishing vessels use simple methods to catch fish from inland or coastal waters—are an often irreplaceable source of nutrition and income in the developing world. Ensuring the sustainability of these fisheries will require coordinated, multi-scale and research-backed governance of ocean and inland aquatic systems that balance the needs and interests of all users.
In 2014, women accounted for about 50 percent of the workforce in fisheries and aquaculture, when the secondary elements such as processing and trading are included. This reliance is significant given that the sectors support the livelihoods of approximately 10–12 percent of the world’s population and are central to global food and nutrition security.
Fishing is often seen as a man’s domain, meaning in developing countries that women’s contributions often go unseen and women are excluded from decisions on small-scale fisheries governance. Dr Pip Cohen, Program Leader of the Resilient Small-Scale Fisheries Research Program at WorldFish, explains how WorldFish works to overcome these barriers.
In this short interview, Dr. Blake Ratner, Director General of WorldFish, explains why gender equity research is an important part of the organization’s work to strengthen livelihoods by improving fisheries and aquaculture.
In 2013, super typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) struck the Philippines. In the worst affected provinces of Leyte and Samar, over 5,500 people died and more than 1,700 people went missing. Shelters and property were washed out; and farming and fishing livelihoods were destroyed. This Catholic Relief Services (CRS) funded project focused on fisheries and aquaculture livelihood assistance for selected affected families by providing field-based technical training, funding support, and guidance. Participants received training in one of six livelihood options of their choice: blue swimming crab, tilapia, group, mud crab, seaweed or milkfish aquaculture.
Do women or men in the Barotse floodplain in Zambia experience higher post harvest fish losses? Why? And what’s the impact – both financially and physically to the fish? The answers to these questions, shown in this presentation, are helping WorldFish design and test appropriate innovations, including ways to overcome harmful norms, behaviours and power relations in the post harvest losses context.