SMALL-SCALE fisheries are an important livelihood and primary protein source for villages surrounding the 11 dams of the rural communities in Eastern province of Zambia, yet many are overfished and thus require effective and scalable sustainable fisheries management solutions.
Fish for Food Security in Zambia Project, being implemented by GIZ under the “One World – No Hunger” Initiative (SEWOH) of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), uses radio to educate and create awareness on the nutritional value of fish and sustainable fisheries management in small water bodies in Eastern province by engaging the duty bearers in debate, under a component of Radio Program in Eastern Province.
Fish for Food Security in Zambia (F4F) project aims at improving the access to sustainable fish products of the people facing food insecurity through the development of the aquaculture sector in selected districts in Luapula Province and to sustainably rehabilitate dam-based fisheries, including the strengthening of dam committees for a responsible management of fisheries in selected districts in Eastern Province.
The Senior Advisor – Sustainable Fisheries Management, Mazuba Mwanachingwala of GIZ Chipata Office says, “Under the Fish for Food Security in Zambia (F4F) project, radio has become a dominant platform for communication across Eastern Province, with selected rural based radio stations that support the extension education efforts, especially using the local languages to communicate effectively and directly with small-scale rural farmers.”
The experience with rural radio has shown the potential for sustainable fisheries management extension to benefit from both the reach and the relevance that local broadcasting can achieve by using participatory communication approaches. This contributes in assisting artisanal fishers and fish farmers in operating sustainably and efficiently, while curbing illegal fishing and climate change; and enables the local communities to benefit from improved and sustainable livelihoods in fishing and fish processing, as well as gaining access to a broader range of fish products.
“Fish for Food Security in Zambia (F4F) Project views radio as a key platform through which many rural and marginalised fishing communities can express themselves and engage with different stakeholders to resolve the fishery community’s development challenges, and propel themselves out of poverty and improve nutritional status at their households,” the Senior Advisor – Sustainable Fisheries Management, Mazuba Mwanachingwala, affirmed.
“Therefore, the aim of the Radio Program in Eastern Province is to compliment a series of trainings which have been planned throughout the Fish for Food Security in Zambia (F4F) Project period. Communities around the selected dams are being sensitized on sustainable dam fisheries management and other fisheries related topics. The Radio Program in Eastern Province also has a nutrition component on the importance of diverse diets with a focus on fish,” The Senior Advisor said.
The Senior Advisor added that, Fish for Food Security in Zambia (F4F) Project is also focusing on women in the fish value chain, and helps to combat hunger, climate change, malnutrition and poverty, creating linkages between food and income security, environmental and natural resource conservation, education and women’s empowerment.”
In Eastern province the project’s focus is on sustainable fisheries management of small water bodies and targets to work with 11 dam management committees, and each one oversees a dam fishery. To achieve this, Fish for Food Security in Zambia (F4F) Project under the Radio Program in Eastern Province component contracted KHUMBILO AgroEcology Media Services, to provide media consultancy services.
Ruth Phiri – the Business Manager of KHUMBILO AgroEcology Media Services said that the main objective of the media consultancy assignment was to develop and air radio episodes with selected radio stations in Eastern Province: Radio Breeze FM in Chipata, Radio Chikaya in Lundazi, and Valley Radio Station in Nyimba.
“The radio episodes included 6 radio drama episodes, 6 live radio shows, 6 field based recordings; radio jingles; and editing and airing of 6 pre-recorded radio programs focusing on topics like: fisheries resource, co-management, community involvement, fish value chain, financial literacy and Environmental problems; and Cultural practices/myths/traditions that affect DMCs,” Ruth Phiri – the Business Manager of KHUMBILO AgroEcology Media Services further explained in Lundazi district.
Ruth Phiri added that the Community Radio Listening Groups (CRLGs) approach that KHUMBILO AgroEcology Media Services facilitated, creates an interface between the radio stations, duty bearers (especially the experts featuring on the live radio shows) and the marginalised fishery communities to identify and implement solutions to their development challenges, such as environment degradation and biodiversity loss, due to climate change in small water bodies.
The Community Radio Listening Groups are a group of people /participants who meet regularly over a given time to listen to audio programming and discuss issues and challenges; and then review awareness and content of programmes aired on a radio station.
Ruth Phiri said, “So far KHUMBILO has established and trained 136 Community Radio Listening Groups around the villages surrounding the 11 dams reaching out to 467 participants on how to handle and operate the solar radios; of which 171 are female and 296 are male and distributed some solar powered radio sets in 6 selected districts thus: Lundazi, Chipangali, Katete, Kasenengwa, Petauke and Nyimba in Eastern province of Zambia.”
The Community Radio Listening Groups approach has proven to be one of the best models for genuine village level engagement, creating platforms where fishery communities engage with their duty-bearers featuring on the live radio episodes to demand accountability and support in the sustainable management of fishery resources through information sharing as a quick effective feedback mechanism and is highly appreciated by local community members.
“The benefits of the Community Radio Listening Groups in the local communities are that, confidence in self and local leadership, especially for the rural women farmers is enhanced. Speaking in public enables rural women farmers to increase their confidence and power. The other aspect is the solidarity and dialogue, as the differences are resolved through dialogue and exchanging views, sometimes between rural women who never speak in public or are involved in community dispute resolutions,” Ruth Phiri said.
While both Lundazi and Petauke District Fisheries Officers, Catherine Kamanga and Oriet Nawa Mundia acknowledges that radio provides the needed reach, frequency, and access to rural areas, making it a promising, appropriate and powerful tool for extension agriculture services for the fishery communities. Besides, ownership and patronage are relatively high compared to other media forms, particularly in rural household’s settings.
“The fish production has increased in the dams. Before the project, it was difficult to buy fish from the dam because everything was been sold to people who prepaid the fishermen.” Elizabeth Ndhlovu testified, “Thanks to GIZ through these radio programs. We are able to eat fresh fish straight from our dam,” Elizabeth Ndhlovu gave a round of applause with a smile of gratification across her face.
And in Kasenengwa district Makungwa Dam Management Committee (DMC) Secretary, Whatson Nyangu consents, “The communities are appreciating the value of these radio programs, serving as an extension education tool, that widely lies in its ability to reach illiterate local communities and provide us with information relating to all aspects of sustainable fisheries management and agriculture production in a language that we understand.”
“A lot of the local people are now coming together and listen to these educative radio programs and the group membership is increasing fast from 15 members to 30 or so. The most interesting topics are centered on the environmental and nutritional benefits of fish, proved to be of great interest,” Makungwa Dam Management Committee (DMC) Secretary added.
Each Community Radio Listening Groups are estimated to attract 30 Active Radio Listeners, per session/episode. It’s therefore, no doubt that 4,080 direct listeners’ are able to access the information on sustainable fish resources management from the 136 established and trained Community Radio Listening Groups.
Ms. Ruth Phiri, the Business Manager of KHUMBILO AgroEcology Media Services also shared, “The lessons learnt are that, the local language programming has made the community members to feel a great sense of ownership when the radio programs were aired in their local languages, than when broadcasted in English or any other language. The broadcasting in the local languages also enables community members to develop a sense of identify and expressed themselves freely.”
Meanwhile, the notable challenge is that, some traditional leaders such as the headmen, are holding onto the radios, as personal property. This makes it difficult for the Community Radio Listening Groups to access the facility when they want to use them for the intended purpose. This is affecting the listenership of the groups, as most of the radio episodes are not properly followed, because the Community Radio Listening Groups are not meeting as planned.
Without raising some eye brows, Fish for Food Security in Zambia Project makes a distinction that, radio is a very powerful tool and truly a farmer’s friend; because it reaches a wider audience quickly and it allows the rural people especially women farmers to interact with one another more easily than television viewers or newspaper readers.