Participatory approach leads to smart, informed decision

Participatory approach leads to smart, informed decision

PARTICIPATORY approach (PA) is a situation where a person in charge of solving a problem or designing an innovation involves people who are directly concerned by the result of their work.

PA is important to any community in the world, because it improves motivation, increases learning and feelings of ownership and enables community empowerment by raising awareness to various issues related to their environment and life in general.

They can raise awareness about the water or sanitation, protection of the environment and having in place the better infrastructures so as to grow their economy.

PA also enables the users to make the ‘smart informed decision’, about what will become their system. Examples of PA include community mapping, transect walks, focus group discussions, gender role analysis, use of drawings, posters, role-play, theatre and songs just to mention a few.

In implementing PA, there are various participation methods with varying degrees of stakeholder’s involvement, provision of information, public hearing, consultations, and collaboration in decision-making and delegation of responsibilities.

More importantly, PA is one in which everyone who has a stake in the intervention has a voice, either in person or by representation therefore everyone participation should be welcomed and respected regardless of color, tribe and political affiliations.

Tanzania, being one of the fastest growing third world countries, also needs the effective PA in implementing its business and other important development related issues.

According to the official data, the country has many natural water bodies, as well as several constructed fish ponds in which fishing is practiced. The major natural fishing bodies include the Indian Ocean, Lake Victoria, Lake Rukwa and Lake Tanganyika.

Even with this kind of natural endowment with large and productive water bodies, Tanzania continues to face serious challenges in its effort to develop the fishing industry.

One of those challenges is the illegal fishing which has contributed to the serious decline in fish stocks in the ocean as well as in the lakes.

Lake Victoria that covers an area estimated to be 68,800 square kilometres, for example, has suffered severe decrease in fish stocks due to pollution and environmental degradation, which are caused by human activities inside the lake, within the lake basin, and also within the surrounding catchment areas of East Africa.

Despite the challenges being experienced in the fishing sector, the fishing sector which in 2021 grew by 2.5 per cent, remains very important to people’s lives

According to the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, the fishing sector contributes about 1.8 per cent to the GDP and about 27 per cent of the animal protein consumed in the country.

Furthermore, the fishery sector in 20 employs about 194,804 full time artisanal fishermens, while other 2 million people make their livelihoods through various fisheries –related activities while there are a total of 31,988 growers of aquacultures.

The sector also contributes to family income as well as increasing food security and nutrition where fish accounts for 30 per cent of animal protein.

In addition, the industry provides employment to approximately 4.5 million Tanzanians in the entire value chain where direct employment for fishermen is 194,804 and aquaculture growers are 31,998. Also the industry deals with various activities such as boat building, net mending, fish processing, food vendors and other petty business.

According to a report by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 93.2 million tons of fish is caught through commercial fishing in wild fisheries while 48.1 million tonnes of fish is caught by fish arms annually.

With a population that is in excess of  over 44 million, the demand for fish in Tanzania is very high. This demand is expected to continue increasing with the increase in human population in the country, despite the earlier mentioned challenges that this industry is continuing to face. 

According to the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) 2021  report on the management of fisheries in Lake Victoria, the total available stock of Nile perch in the Tanzanian part of the lake, which was recorded last year, is estimated  at 165,439 tonnes, while the annual quantity of removal of Nile perch is estimated to be 101, 298 tones.

The challenges of fishing on the Tanzanian side are compounded by the fact that 50 per cent of operators as well as vessels carry out fishing activities without registration certificate. This, according to the report, makes management of fisheries extremely difficult.

Another major challenge, according to the report is the weakness in the fisheries monitoring processes. Monitoring by the Beach Management Unit and monitoring by the Local Government Authorities are poorly coordinated and this leads to increased illegal fishing which has resulted in annual decline in stocks of fish in Lake Victoria

However the laws governing the fishing industry are also weak and their dispensation is also too slow. When law breakers in the fishing industry are caught, the legal process that follows is not adequate in deterring the illegal fishing or even the pollution activities.

This weakness in law and poor enforcement compound the problem of dealing with fishing related crimes and this indirectly contributes to the continued decline in fish stocks.

Every person across the country; whether employers, employees, farmers, doctors, politicians and activists, must use PA to control illegal fishing.

This is due to the fact that, as a country we have been witnessing several fisheries related cases appearing as headlines in the local daily newspapers. These have been particularly reported on illegal fishing in Mwanza, Mara, Kigoma and Kagera regions.

We have also heard various remarks from our leaders during meetings, workshops and seminars focusing on the issue of illegal fishing and steps which will be taken against the culprits.

But in reality, speeches and good songs from political leaders have not done much in reversing the negative trend against illegal fishing.

Recently, the Minister for Livestock and Fisheries, Mr Mashimba Ndaki urged the general public in the lake zone regions to fight against illegal fishing and insisted that the government plan against that is to ensure fish stocks increased.

The minister urged the district councils to allocate budgets so as to purchase the equipment that will be used in controlling the country’s fishing resources against those who were involved in the illegal fishing.

 “The councils that are located within the rivers, lakes and seas should work closely with the ministry to control illegal fishing which is still a great challenge,” he said adding that the government would continue taking stern measures against illegal fishermen’s.

He urged the fishermen to ensure that they protect fish resources so that they are not damaged by the people who are involved in illegal fishing activities.

The same political song goes on as illegal fishing goes on. Other more effective methods need to be identified through participatory approach so as to end the matter

More participatory approaches are needed so that each one of us, citizens and leaders, political and religious, should work together so that they can successfully fight the illegal fishing businesses which are thriving now in the country.

We must endeavour to change the mentality of those responsible for illegal fishing activities so that they can appreciate the need for appropriate and sustainable fishing practices for the economy of the country for today and tomorrow.

Author: NASHON KENNEDY in Mwanza

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