By HENRY OWINO
Kenya is hosting for the very first time conference on Ecofish programme starting on 5 to 6 February, 2020. The venue of this meeting is situated at The African Union, Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), Museum Hill, Westlands, Nairobi, Kenya.
The high level conference is organized by Programme Steering Committee of the EU-funded Ecofish Programme in collaboration with AU-IBAR.
The purpose of the meeting is to enhance ownership and effective collaboration among the stakeholders and development partners of the Ecofish programme.
The Ecofish Programme’s objective is to enhance equitable economic growth by promoting sustainable fisheries in Eastern Africa, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean (EA-SA-IO) region.
The focus of Ecofish is on strengthening the capacities of these regional economic and fisheries organizations to ensure better service delivery at the national and local levels.
This is because the fisheries sector contributes an estimated 6% GDP to the agriculture sector in Africa, employing some 50.0 million people of which 12.3 million represents direct employment.
According to the World Bank, on average, fish and fish products account for 18% of animal protein intake by African consumers. While men are usually involved in fishing activities, almost 60% of the fish processing and marketing activities are carried out by women.
Small-scale marine and inland fisheries are of major importance to the livelihoods of rural communities. The governance of the fisheries sector varies widely among countries and across the region.
The “Contribution of Sustainable Fisheries to the Blue Economy of Eastern Africa, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean region (ES-SA-IO)” popularly called the Ecofish Programme is an initiative funded by the European Union under the 11th EDF cross-regional envelope of the Regional Indicative Programme for the Eastern Africa, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean (EA-SA-IO) Region 2014 – 2020.
Ecofish is the successor of the 10th EDF SmartFish programme, and will be implemented over a five year period from September 2019 to September 2024.
A total of 19 countries are the ultimate beneficiaries of the cross regional Ecofish programme. These are Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, DR Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The strategy of Ecofish is to build on the existing architecture and processes of the regional cooperation and integration to uphold sustainable fisheries in the EA-SA-IO region through improved fisheries policy and management frameworks, thus transforming the fisheries sector in the region.
The direct beneficiaries of Ecofish are five duly mandated regional organizations (DMROs), four regional fisheries bodies (RFBOs), and fishing populations of the EA-SA-IO region.
The DMRO are COMESA, EAC, IGAD, IOC and SADC. Ecofish is working with two inland fisheries bodies thus Lake Tanganyika Authority (LTA) and Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO). The other is two marine fisheries bodies namely the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) and the Southwest Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission (SWIOFC).