Fish are a vital source of protein for people around the world. Yet, for poor rural communities living in drylands, fish can be hard to come by or prohibitively expensive. That’s why, with our partners, Africa Sand Dam Foundation, Sand Dams Worldwide (formerly Excellent Development) have supported self-help groups to establish small-scale fish ponds.

Not only will these initiatives provide a sustainable, nutrient-rich source of food, they will also enable farmers to generate an income by selling the surplus stock at local markets.

The Mumbuka self-help group started their first fish pond in May 2012 using the water harvested from their sand dams. They have plans to build even more in the future. Daniel Mutika, a self-help group member, said:

“The fish are very tasty and very sweet. If you get used to them you cannot eat any other food. By December, the fish will be mature and we will be able to sell them. We are going to establish a fish pond at each sand dam we have.”

Small-scale fisheries like these make an important contribution to food security, sustainable livelihoods and poverty alleviation. But, the one sure benefit is the nutritional and health value to be gained from eating fish. Fish, such as Tilapia, have a nutrient profile superior to all terrestrial meats. They are an excellent source of high-quality animal protein as well as an extremely rich source of Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamins (A, D & E) and minerals.

Josephine Musyoka, a member of the Kumina Wauni self-help group, said: “I hear that fish increases someone’s knowledge. I have seen that from the people of the lakeside. So first, when we have the fish, we will give them to our children and grandchildren so they can become very brainy and very strong. Then we will eat the fish because I don’t want to die any time soon. After that, we will sell the surplus to earn an income.”

The fish ponds we are supporting self-help groups to build will provide a vital sustainable source of protein, enable food security and create income-generating opportunities for whole communities.

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