Groups donate Sh6m fishing gear in fresh plan to empower women

Echo Network Africa (ENA) Chief Executive Officer Dr Jennifer Riria after donating a boat to women at Litare Beach in Mbita Sub-county. 

Women in Homa Bay County have benefited from assorted equipment for cage fish production worth Sh6 million. The donation was given to 100 women under a programme in undertaken by Echo Network Africa and Menonite Economic Development Associates of Canada.

The beneficiaries hail from Litare, Wakula, Kaugege and Mrongo beaches in Mbita sub-County.

The plan is to make them self-reliant while plying the fishing trade so that they don’t become victims of exploitation. Among the items they received were motorized boat for carrying harvested fish, solar coolers for preserving fish, machines for processing fish feeds and solar lamps.

Earlier, the women had received the fish cages in which each beach got one cage. The cages are used for rearing fish in Lake Victoria. 

The equipment is aimed at making the work easier for women to undertake fish cage farming. It also means they will no longer have to depend entirely on fish brought by fishermen.

Echo Network Africa CEO Jennifer Riria, Menonite Programmes Manager Walter Tinega and Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga’s representative Jack Obonyo distributed the equipment to the women at Litare beach in Rusinga Island yesterday.

Economic wellbeing

Dr Riria said they came up with the project to improve women’s economic wellbeing. “We started this project to enable the women in these beaches get a stable source of income.”

She said the project will cushion women from sexual exploitation by enabling them to produce fish on their own.

“What predisposes women to sexual abuse by fishermen is poverty. But this projects makes women custodians of fish hence good money. Once women are empowered, those who want to abuse them will not get the opportunity,” said Dr Riria.

Tinega said they had trained the women on how to handle the equipment. They are expected to produce desired tons of fish using their cages.

“We have also trained them on financial management to ensure they plan well and get maximum profit from the aquaculture project,” Tinega said. Obonyo, who read Governor Wanga’s speech, said the county government will support the project to ensure its sustainability.

“Aquaculture is an important project since it boosts food security. The county government will support the project,” Obonyo said. Women who will benefit from the project welcomed more initiatives aimed at empowering them economically.

“We used to beg men to give us coolers for storing our fish but today, they are the ones who seek our assistance. The project has reduced exploitation,” said Ms Esther Otieno, a cage fish farmer at Litare beach.

Ms Monica Auma, farmer, said the project enhances their financial stability. This, she said, had cushioned them from financial vulnerability.

“We can produce our fish on our own and this reduces poverty which has historically made women vulnerable to various forms of sexual abuse,” said Auma.