The first project I came to in Zambia, was the Inyambo fish farm. Located within the western province of Zambia, in a village of 10,000 Lozi people, is a project that stands to strengthen the community, and also help to conserve fish stocks in the Zambezi River. Lozi literally translates to mean water people, and it is surely a fitting name to a people so tied to the river. A large village, they live very much traditionally, and fish daily along the Zambezi. However, due to overfishing, fish stocks are rapidly declining, leaving people with less food, and even deeper ecological issues. Locals have been using mosquito nets for fishing, which is catching everything from the river, greatly disturbing the ecology of the river. Having approached AWF because they could tell that their fish stocks were declining, AWF has come in and trained elders in workshops for agriculture and conservation, and is now building a fish farm. The fish farm is still under construction, but already it is proving to be very beneficial to the community, with pumps giving them water access. Villagers are now able to get water from different taps, instead of getting it straight out the river, greatly reducing injuries due to crocodile attacks.
Six nursery fish ponds are now being finished, which will act as the breeding sites. From these ponds they will collect the eggs from the female fish’s mouths’, and transfer them to facilities inside where they will grow. Once they are at a certain age, they will then be placed in another series of ponds, with the adults finally being harvest in yet another set of ponds.
Chickens will provide droppings which will be transferred into the ponds for nutrients, and the whole process will likewise propel the system forward. Water is pumped in from the Zambezi, going to two outlets within the community, and then continuing to the fish farm. When completed, the water will circulate through the building for the hatchery, and into the different ponds. The ponds will then all drain into a larger pond so that the water that the fish are using does not go back into the Zambezi and harm the natural environment. Already, this larger pond is hosting a colony of White fronted Bee Eaters as well as some King fishers.
[caption id="attachment_1896" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Local hired workers dig out the first pools in order to lay down plastic for the bottoms which will be then covered with soil"][/caption]
They will sell the fish at various stages to farmers around the country, and also sell the adult fish to the local community for food so that they do not overfish the Zambezi. This fish farm will provide the community with a renewable source for food all year long, leaving sections of the river clear from fishing to help the fish in the wild repopulate the area. The money that is made from the project will go directly back in to the community, with the Trust (elected leaders chosen from the community to represent the people on a grass roots level) deciding what the community needs, and putting the money made towards helping to implement the solutions.
"Africa has been an integral influence on my dreams and my life from a very young age. An Environmental Studies major and senior at Ursinus College, I travel back to Africa with a more focused view, learning about and documenting the various AWF projects in the Kazungula Heartland. Through my work I hope to make a difference in this world, and spread awareness of key environmental and humanitarian issues."
AWF Blogs bring you to the African Heartlands, where conservation benefits both wildlife and people alike. The blogs are written by our staff - men and women who have dedicated their lives to Africa's wildlife, people and wild lands.