Members of a South Sudanese fishing community have been empowered to provide food for their families and to increase their household incomes thanks to a donation of five canoes from GOAL, supported by funding from FCDO (UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office).
By Caroline Lavelle
The canoes, which will support the livelihoods of 125 fishermen and women, were made by young people on a skills training course at a GOAL-run vocational training centre. Having the canoes made locally rather than buying them from Ethiopia, as was the practice, reduces the cost and gives a further boost to the local economy.
Five groups of 25 local fishermen and women received the canoes along with fishing twines, nets and hooks under the FCDO RECOVER (Resilient Communities through Viable Economic Recovery) Programme. RECOVER targets almost 23,500 vulnerable households in Upper Nile and Unity states in South Sudan. In partnership with Mercy Corps and a local NGO UNKEA, with funding from FCDO, the project is building resilience by giving the communities the capacities and assets they need to cope with shocks and stresses.
The boats and supplies will help the fishermen and women navigate the River Sobat, which flows through Ulang County in the Upper Nile State and is rich in fish stocks.
The fishing groups will be able to fish for their own households and then sell excess at market. Profits made from the sale of fish will be shared among the groups, boosting household income. As well as fishing, the canoes are being used by communities to check and monitor flood water levels along the riverbanks as the rainy season draws to a close. Fishing activity will increase following the end of the rainy season in November.
The fishermen and women dry and preserve the fish they catch in the River Sobat. They have also received training from GOAL in fish preservation to ensure the fish maintain their nutritional value and stay fresh for far longer.
This intervention by GOAL is widely supported by local Ulang County authorities and communities as fishing is one of the main sources of food in the region.
Heavy rains since July across South Sudan have been devastating, with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reporting that more than 600,000 people have been displaced from their homes by flood waters. The majority of those displaced have moved to higher ground, with the hopes of returning to their lands once flood waters have subsided.
The donation of the canoes comes at a time when COVID-19 is having a huge impact on levels of hunger worldwide. The number of people confronting potentially life-threatening levels of food insecurity in the developing world expected to nearly double this year to more than a quarter of a billion people, according to the United Nations World Food Program.