Fishing for their Future

Two youths examine the fish they are farming in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. Photo: NCCK

Last year we told the story of Noah Errambona, a Burundian fisherman living as a refugee at the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya.  Noah had worked with a group of refugees at the camp to set up a fish farm in a pond built at Kakuma with help from PWRDF partner the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK).

In the year since we posted that story, Noah and the other 14 Darfurian and Burundian youth in his group have been busy.  They have harvested two generations of fish from their pond, catching over 120kg of tilapia, mudfish and cat fish that they had raised.  Even after the costs of buying the minnows and feeding them as well as repairing damage to one of the ponds, they managed to feed their families and have about 26,000 Kenyan shillings (about $350Cdn) in profit.  According to NCCK, “The demand for fish in the refugee camp and Kakuma as a whole is high, which makes this project more viable.”

Supporting groups like Noah’s is part of NCCK’s overall strategy to work with the refugees living in the camp to improve conditions there.  According to Jeannethe Lara, a development program coordinator with PWRDF, “NCCK believes that a community where people are empowered and engaged in development has less apathy and social ills.”  Micro-entrepreneurship is one key way NCCK is helping groups of refugees to build their own livelihoods and lives in Kakuma.

The Kakuma refugee camp was opened in 1992 in Kenya’s northern semi-arid region, and was designed to accommodate 70,000 refugees.  Today, over 180,000 call the camp home, many of them living there for years or even decades.  The isolation, frustration, depression, poverty, and lack of opportunity in a refugee camp like Kakuma often leads to alcoholism, transactional sexual activity and gender based violence.

PWRDF has funded NCCK’s work in Kakuma since it started, and continues to partner with NCCK to provide reproductive health and livelihood support, helping thousands of refugees to support themselves and to better understand health issues.

Additionally, the option of having a way to support oneself and one’s family brings hope to refugees, and is helping to lessen the problems of alcoholism, sexually based violence and depression.

Noah and his group are hoping this year to purchase proper fishing nets to minimize potential injuries as they fish.

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