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17.04.2019 | Blog

Go Fish

Droughts and deforestation marked the end for many herders in eastern Sudan. A Welthungerhilfe fishery project allowed them to start over.

Cattle Herders from Sudan Defy Drought by Turning to Fishing
Cattle herders from Sudan defy drought by turning to fishing © Welthungerhilfe

Droughts and deforestation marked the end for many herders in eastern Sudan: Their animals could no longer find anything to eat. A Welthungerhilfe fishery project allowed them to start over. Rather than living off of meat and desert, they now live from fish and water.

Fisherman in Sudan
Instead of driving livestock through barren landscapes, Yassir Saleh now pulls fish from a net. © Welthungerhilfe

Until recently, Yassir Saleh (31) did not care for fish. He comes from a family of cattle herders that moved to the sea in desperation. He used to live in the desert of the Red Sea State in eastern Sudan. Long droughts and deforestation had made his home practically uninhabitable. Besides mesquite, a resilient shrub that bears sweet fruit pods, nothing grew here anymore. Because of the wild shrubs, Yassir and other herders could barely find any more pasture for their animals. Hoping to find a better life, they moved to the coast.

How Welthungerhilfe supports Sudan

Modern Equipment Keeps Catch Fresh

A Welthungerhilfe fishery project in the administrative district of Agig makes it easier for former herders to start over at the sea. In a newly-established fishery cooperative, 250 members are dedicated to fishing.  Welthungerhilfe incorporated participants in the project from the very beginning. “We asked: What do you need? The answer was: boats, motors, nets and fishing rods. That is what we got,” recalls Adi Schuett, Welthungerhilfe head of project in Port Sudan. In order to prevent the catch from going bad, Welthungerhilfe also equipped the boats with coolers. The fishers can now spend up to five days in a row at sea while keeping the catch fresh. Back on land, the fish are picked up by a refrigerated vehicle and transported the 300 kilometres to Port Sudan.

The residents of Agig are gradually getting a taste for fish as well. Four restaurants have opened with support from Welthungerhilfe, and another four are expected to be financed by donations. Because a plate of fish costs only half as much as a meat dish, it sells out quickly. Many people are benefiting from the boom: the restaurant owners who receive a secure source of income, the people who eat more healthily and, of course, the fishers.

Market-based approaches

The Sea Offers Fish and Hope

Part of the fishers’ income goes to the cooperative for boat repairs and reserve funds, but on balance, everyone makes a good profit. Yassir Saleh is happy as well. The former cattle herder speaks for his friends, too, when he says: “Now, we don’t want to leave the sea anymore. Everything good comes from there.”

The success of the fishery project in Agig can be attributed to a well thought out concept and the fact that the beneficiaries were so closely involved. With further support, the project will offer even more people a bright future.

How Welthungerhilfe Supports People in Sudan

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