With the aim of fostering gender equality and better integration of women in aquaculture activities, VicInAqua partners organise round tables in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. On 16 April 2018, partner STIPRO (Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Research Organisation, Tanzania) organised a round table entitled "Empowering women in sustainable aquaculture: What are the issues". The event gathered 18 experts from women fisheries associations/networks, fish farms active in hatchery and fish cultivation, fisheries and aquaculture associations, aquaculture research organisations and local and regional government representatives responsible for fisheries and aquaculture aspects.
Ms. Lanta Daniel and Mr. Musambya Mutambala of STIPRO welcomed the participants and introduced VicInAqua, its aims and the purpose of the round table. Ms. Joyce Mamkwe, Senior Fisheries Officer of the Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries of Tanzania and Mr. Enock Mlaponi, representative of the Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute (TAFIRI) briefly explained challenges linked with aquaculture, gender balance and (waste) water treatment in Tanzania. The participants were then divided into 3 mixed groups to discuss the following:
- What is the status of women in aquaculture?
- What is known about RAS and water re use?
- What are the constraints faced by women in Aquaculture and how to overcome them?
- What kinds of training that are mostly needed by women in the field?
The discussion outcomes were then presented by a member of each group. Currently with families located in the region, income generated from the aquaculture is mostly consumed for home expenditure rather than reinvested back to the aquaculture activities. Moreover, many of the women still don't know how Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) work as they are used to ponds for aquaculture. The idea of wastewater reuse for agriculture was received pretty well by the participants, especillay concerning wastewater streams coming from habitation. However up to now, local women don't seem to fear water scarcity as they consider that Lake Victoria provides them with enough water for aquaculture and futher activities.
The participants underlined specific constraints to the acceptance of RAS in the region:
- The lack of land ownership and difficulties in getting loeans makes small farmers or entrepreneurs not confident into investing into such a technology.
- Women still experience strong difficulties in accessing information and training on aquaculture, especially when it comes to advanced solutions like RAS.
- The lack of spares needed for aquaculture infrastructure in the area means fish farmers have to travel a long time to find them. Women as family caretakers can't afford to leave the family unattended for so long.
- In general, fish farm entrepreneurs lack provision of good fish hybrids.
The participants formulated following recommendations to help overcoming these constraints:
- increase the numbers of and inform more about seminars and trainings for women to boost up their knowledge in different areas of aquaculture; these would include e.g. Record Management, Fish Feed, Facility Management Best Practices;
- find a way for women entrepreneurs to get loans at the lower interest; and
- land issues should be re-evaluated by the relevant local and regional authorities to give women an equal chance to men to own land.
The round table organisers finally thanked all participants for their reach contributions and input. The outcomes of all VicInAqua round tables on Gender & Aquaculture will be gathered and analysed by the VicInAqua team, before being validated in the frame of an expert panel. You can find more information on these events and how to get involved here.