By Edward Mukaro
STRONGER institutional collaboration and coordination amongst all parties in the Technical Cooperation Programme between the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) for enhanced community resilience and sustainability of small-scale fisheries of Lake Kariba, has been described as critical for the nation to effectively implement the fishery project, which is expected to help spur economic growth, while eradicating poverty.
The FAO responded to the government’s appeal of support in ecosystem-based management and utilisation of inland fisheries resources.
Currently, approximately 80 percent (%) of the country’s fish production comes from Lake Kariba, showing the importance of the waterbody.
However, recent studies have shown that the Lake Kariba ecosystem and communities that depend on the fishery resources for livelihoods are vulnerable to climate change.
Addressing delegates who attended the launch of the cooperation between government and FAO, the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Mangaliso Ndhlovu said, “What we have achieved so far in putting together this project is just the first lap of our team run. After we close this launching program, a few hours from now, let’s bear in mind that this is only the beginning of a challenging and exciting journey.
A bigger word awaits us all – the word is implementation. And when we talk of implementation, we mean stronger institutional collaboration and coordination amongst all parties (Government, communities, and FAO) concerned.
Our listening skills as implementers will also be put to the test as we continue to provide space and opportunity for wider community participation and social dialogue as building blocks,” said Hon Ndhlovu.
The Cabinet minister stated that, while all beneficiaries appreciate the partnership, the project is also in line with the country’s economic blueprint.
“The Technical Cooperation Programme between the Government of Zimbabwe and the FAO is highly appreciated by all beneficiaries as well as government.
“It has been fully aligned to our National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) as it addresses a number of specific needs in the areas of training in post-harvest processing and handling marketing, with a particular focus on existing and active women networks,” he said.
He added that the project comes at a point when people’s livelihoods are deeply compromised by climate change, when livelihoods and employment are threatened by disasters and when crops fail and hence no savings and other means to protect resources.
Speaking at the same occasion, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority director-general, Dr Fulton Mangwanya, expressed high hopes of the project’s capability of rejuvenating small-scale fisheries and operations given the FAO’s expertise.
“FAO has voluntary guidelines for securing sustainable small-scale fisheries and the guidelines were adopted by the FAO member countries in 2014. Based on the guidelines, a request to support Lake Kariba’s Small-Scale Fisheries was sent to FAO.
“We thank the FAO for approving the request for enhancing the community resilience and sustainability of Lake Kariba’s small-scale fisheries as it will enhance resource management and encourage the involvement of fishing communities in the management of fisheries of Lake Kariba,” said Dr Mangwanya.
He added that apart from their (small-scale fisheries) vulnerability to climate change, they also experience other challenges that are socio-economic in nature.
Fisheries in Lake Kariba also have weak institutions, which reportedly resulted from the unsuccessful implementation of co-management structures, while there is also a serious challenge of limited resources to support their operations.
The objectives of the launch were held under the theme: “Setting the stage for successful and sustainable management, development and utilisation of the small-scale fisheries of Lake Kariba and Zambezi River, Zimbabwe.”
By Edward Mukaro