The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: UN Boss Hails Women Conservation Project

A women's fish farming project that emphasises conserving biodiversity on Lake Victoria, has been hailed by the UN Development Programme Administrator, Helen Clark.

The project, in Kigungu village in Entebbe, incorporates waste disposal and water pollution and minimizes loss of biodiversity. Jane Nakitto, the general secretary of the 30-member group, says before they started fish farming, they were mining sand from the lake and cutting down trees. Then Environmental Women in Action for Development (Ewad) came to the village and taught them about conserving the environment and still earn a living from it.

The women were given trees for planting. They asked to start a fish pond because it was difficult for them to catch fish in the lake - a job reserved for men. The fish stock was also dwindling.

"We stopped mining sand and decided to conserve the environment. Ewad gave us the young fish to put in the pond and they helped us construct the pond," Nakitto says. The pond contains Tilapia, Nile Perch and Cat fish.

After six months, they sell the fish at Shs 6,500 a kilogramme and make a profit of Shs 5m in this period. They put this money in their Misoli Village bank and together with extra savings as a group, lend out the money to anyone at a lower interest rate than commercial banks. Clark agreed that fish farming is a good way to guarantee supply of fish to the women all year round as fish stocks in the lake had been depleted.

"I'm very excited to see ladies have new ways of earning a living with a bit of consistency. Uganda is emerging with potential and we want to be as inclusive as possible so that communities have sustainable livelihoods," Clark said.

She also visited a fish-smoking house which was constructed with support from UNDP. Clark was in Kampala to deliver a keynote address at the Commonwealth Local Government Conference at Munyonyo.

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