Potential strategies to address fishers problems in Lake Victoria, Tanzania
Local fishing communities riparian to Lake Victoria in Tanzania have since time immemorial exploited and highly depended on the fisheries of the lake. However their living conditions have been deteriorating despite an increase in the income generated from this fishery. Although there are a few successful fishermen, on average most of them cannot make their ends meet. Living conditions within the riparian communities are poor due to lack of sufficient sanitary, health and education facilities, and there is a very high incidence of diseases, illiteracy and poverty. Since the fishery of the lake turned commercial in 1980's due to the boom of Nile perch Lates niloticus, one expects the living conditions of these fishers and indeed the riparian communities to be changing. However, the reverse is what is being observed, WHY? This has been the concern of several people and of the ongoing Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project (LVEMP). As a way of partially addressing this issue, a survey was carried out in these fishing communities between January and March 2001 in the three regions bordering the lake on the Tanzanian side. The survey was undertaken to understand how fishers’ conceptualize their conditions and for them to suggest strategies to address this condition. Participatory Research Tools were employed to solicit fisher’s problems from their point of view as well as solutions to the identified problems. This paper presents and discusses the results of the survey and argues that among the various strategies proposed for improving fishers conditions, formation of fishers organizations seems to be paramount. This would be the starting point for solving the numerous problems identified
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