The African Development Bank has revived an important aquaculture project in the Mountain District of western Cote d'Ivoire, and last week launched the women and youth component of the project to build electricity systems.
The project to reactivate the Dompleu aquaculture station is led by the public company Cote d'Ivoire Energies and implemented by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Bank first financed the project in 2000, prior to its interruption by the country's political and military crisis between 2002 and 2011.
"This is an opportunity for our people. They have to seize on it to strengthen social cohesion by increasing income for women and youth. Several ponds have been created in the region. There were problems in the past. Now, these activities need to be restarted," said Karim Diarra, prefect of Danane in Cote d'Ivoire's far west.
The Bank is providing $1.07 million in financing for the women and youth empowerment component, and the success of the project will justify greater resources in the future, said Raymond Kitandala, an energy expert with the Bank.
"This project is an important part of the rural electrification of the region," said Kitandala. "When the project is complete, 20,000 households will be supplied with electricity. However, accessing electricity requires financial resources, which is why electricity cannot be limited to residential use alone. It has to be used to create revenue-generating activities."
The Dompleu station, covering four hectares, will be operated by about 100 youth from the region. Each year, it will produce 500,000 tilapia fingerlings at the fish hatchery and 150 tonnes of tilapia for local, national and sub-regional markets.
In addition, groups of women and youth will be trained to start agricultural activities, particularly manioc and rice cultivation. They will produce 600 tonnes of acheke and manioc flour and 400 tonnes of husked rice annually.
Samy Gaiji, resident representative of the FAO in Cote d'Ivoire, emphasised the importance of investing in women. "It's a catalyst for local communities," he said.
More than 6,000 women and youth will be involved in the project and will help develop value and processing chains in Mountain District, Gaiji said.
"Cote d'Ivoire has the right conditions for aquaculture production and to meet its domestic needs. The FAO will do everything it can to help the project succeed. But this project will only succeed if the target groups take ownership of it," he said.
Alexis Adélé, Communication and External Relations Division