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Improving the Livelihood of Fisher Folk


  
Nile River fishermen in Egypt face many problems and obstacles including a lack of fish, primitive fishing tools and difficulties to obtain licenses. They also lack social and health insurance and institutions that defend their rights. They live in poor housing conditions and the rate of illiteracy in the communities is high. The social situation and health of the poor fishing communities along the river is made worse by an increasing pollution of the Nile.

To contribute to the empowerment of the poor fishing communities and to address the problem of pollution of the Nile waters, BLACD started the project “Improving the Livelihood of Fisher Folk of the Nile River and Lakes” in 2004 with support from Christian Aid and the Ford Foundation.

 

 

One of thousands of fishermen who depend on the Nile to make a living


Establishing Fishermen’s Associations

At the outset of the project BLACD established Fishermen’s Associations in the four project areas to defend the rights of the fishermen. BLACD continuously works to build the capacity of the board members through trainings. In cooperation with the Fishermen’s Associations, BLACD assists the fishermen in obtaining licenses and appropriate fishing equipment as well as social insurance. 

BLACD works to raise awareness among the fishermen of incorrect fishing practices, such as using poison and electricity to catch fish. Through establishing a direct relationship between Fishermen’s Associations and concerned Governmental agencies, fishermen are encouraged to participate actively in preventing violations of their rights such as monopolization of fishing areas. BLACD further works to raise public awareness of the situation of fishermen and has for this aim produced a documentary film called “The Forgotten” and a non-periodical magazine called “The Fisherman and the River”.

 

 

Fishermen outside the Fishermen’s Association in El-Hawarta


Working with the Wives of Fishermen

BLACD has established women’s movements in three of the project areas with the aim of improving the situation of women in those villages and consequently to empower the fishing communities at large. Women who are members of the movements have received training on subjects such as human rights, women’s rights, gender, communication and how to work as volunteers in their communities. Women identify and discuss problems they see in their villages, such as lack of medical care and garbage removal, and have learned how to present complaints to Government officials to ask for their rights. 

BLACD further assists women in obtaining ID cards and birth certificates. Special efforts have been made to obtain official papers for women who were not registered at birth. So far more than 1000 ID cards have been issued and more than 200 birth certificates. The wives of fishermen have been offered small loans to start small income-generating projects to improve the standard of living of families and to prevent fishermen from resorting to bad fishing practices in order to gain an income. So far 270 micro-projects have been implemented by women in four villages.

 

 

Many wives of fishermen started micro-projects to contribute to family income
















Confronting Illiteracy

BLACD has opened 8 literacy classes for men and women from the fishing villages. Apart from learning how to read and write, students in literacy classes receive training on health, rights, accessory making and sowing. Day trips to nearby historical sites have been organized for the students.

Improving Housing

To further increase the standard of living of the fishing community BLACD improves the safety and condition of housing in the communities. In addition to repairing 215 houses, sanitary latrines have been installed in 250 houses and 326 families now enjoy piped drinking water in their homes. 

Advocating for the Protection and Development of the Nile

BLACD works to raise awareness of the problem of pollution of the Nile River and advocates for its protection. The organization has produced a documentary film called “The Cry of a River”, two awareness raising posters and a pamphlet dealing with the problem of pollution. BLACD further coordinates and cooperates with concerned Governmental agencies on limiting pollution and participated in setting up a local forum in Minya Governorate consisting of some civil society organizations, governmental agencies and one representative from the private sector to address the issue of how to develop and protect the Nile River basin.
 

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