By MMW Team
Media Matters for Women (MMW) is helping to build a women-owned fish farming project in Kamakwie, a remote and impoverished area in the Karene District in northwest Sierra Leone. The goal is to empower women to pursue their own business opportunities.
Since 2010, MMW has produced and distributed podcasts designed to inform rural women and girls about health, human rights and other important issues. MMW recently expanded its reach into Kamakwie, which has no medical clinics, no schools and few businesses. Families struggle with malnutrition and food insecurity. Some pregnant women have had to swim across a river to get medical care.
As in many parts of the country, businesses are dominated by men, and women lack the confidence and knowledge to seek economic opportunities. MMW is working with experts to support women-led aqua-farming activities. We offer the opportunity to acquire innovative technological and business skills to create financial independence. This helps women to understand their power and impact, which helps to ensure the project’s success.
The women involved in the project are enthusiastic about it, according to MMW Senior Journalist Alinah Kallon, in part because of its long-term viability. The fish will expand their diets and lead to potential profits.
“They’re really happy,” Kallon said. “They say it’s an opportunity to get new knowledge, to learn something new.”
After initial reluctance, the women were thrilled to be managers of the project. “One of the women told me that putting them in charge of the project united them for the first time,” Kallon said.
MMW podcasts that accompany the project will focus on fish farming and business skills, but other podcasts will focus on broader issues designed to empower women with financial independence, environmental awareness and nutritional information to address serious malnutrition and food insecurity issues.
MMW has ensured the fish farm project remains women-owned by setting up bank accounts in their names, training five women and 12 young girls in fish farm operations and providing a continued MMW presence in Kamakwie – a Listening Center.
The women take on various roles with the project, including as fish pond managers and marketing once the fish are harvested. They also have commitments from the Ministry of Agriculture to provide support, and from local banks, should they need loans for long-term sustainability.
The men of Kamakwie are generally supportive of the project because the women already do most of the farm work and housework.
MMW provided the tools and training, but now the women are ready to run the project and design new ponds and ways of distributing the fish. As the project grows, more Kamakwie women will be able to join.
In addition, MMW staff will lead weekly group discussions to educate community leaders and families about the value of gaining dietary protein from fish.