Aswan, Upper Egypt – WorldFish, the Swiss Embassy in Cairo, and Aswan’s local community gathered to celebrate the successful completion of the Swiss-funded Youth Employment in Aswan Governorate (YEAG) project, that has provided training and business support to more than 1000 fishers during the period of July 2017 to December 2018. Members of Aswan’s community including fishers, fish processors and wholesalers, women fish retailers and fish farmers, fishing cooperatives in addition to representatives of Aswan governorate attended the closing ceremony. Among attendees were representatives of academia, research centres, Aquatic Union, Aquatic police, High Dam Lake Development Authority (HDLDA), the General Authority for fisheries resources development (GAFRD), Aswan Business Association as well as SMEs and private sector companies.
The YEAG project benefitted 1976 fishermen, fish farmers, women fish retailers and young entrepreneurs. The project supported the development of aquaculture, improved post-harvest handling and fish processing practices, and developed fisheries management in Lake Nasser, with the aim of ensuring better livelihood for beneficiaries.
Dr. Harrison Karisa, WorldFish Country Director said: “The major goal of 18-month YEAG project was improved nutrition and economic opportunities for the poor through sustainable expansion and management of aquaculture and fisheries in Aswan. The success stories of increased sale volumes and revenue from fishers, fish processors, retailers and fish farmers are evidence of the tangible benefits realised. This project is a testimony that, with right partnerships and a dedicated team, positive change can occur in a short time. WorldFish is thankful for the support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Government of Egypt and partners. We are confident that if policy and regulatory hurdles are tackled, more jobs and livelihoods will be secured …”
The Ambassador of Switzerland to Egypt Paul Garnier said: “The YEAG project represents Switzerland’s commitment to support Egypt’s aquaculture and fisheries sector which employs overall 250,000 Egyptians. This sector helps provide the Egyptian population with better quality and healthier fish at low cost. YEAG is both important for income generation and food security.
During the project, WorldFish jointly worked with different stakeholders: fishers, cooperatives, private sector and local authorities, on the Lake Nasser fisheries management plan. WorldFish provided the scientific evidence and research material for decisions on management options. More than 1000 fishers received 124 training sessions on best fishing and fish-handling practices. They learnt about best methods to use fishing nets and ice and the importance of maintaining good hygiene practices to protect their products from damage. Fishers cited increased fish volume, bigger fish size and better selling price as benefits realized from the training. The project placed 74 solar energy units in fishing camps in Lake Nasser. By introducing this practical and innovative solution the project helped reducing fisherman’s gas consumption and provided them with electricity for sewing nets during night time. The project team also provided technical expertise to help twenty-four farmers develop fish farming activities in Wadi El-Nokra, Wadi El Sa’ayda also known as El Shahama and Abu Simbel, Aswan region.
Around 140 women fish retailers in Aswan reported improved working conditions. They were provided with ice boxes, cleaning equipment, weighing scales and umbrellas; as well as trainings on fish filleting, cooking, salting, smoking handling, tanning, and project management. The use of ice boxes increased fish shelf life, so women retailers losses are reduced and improved the fish quality delivered to the end-consumer. Women fish retailers increased the volume of fish sold especially salted fish. Others who did not sell salted fish, started selling them. Lack of capital was mentioned as a main obstacle to launching businesses. By organizing women into cash-saving groups, they were able to generate capital and increase social solidarity among themselves.
Some women beneficiaries used the income generated through their savings to open fish shops and restaurants in areas of Heissa island, Nasserya and El-Hassaya and El-Mahmoudya. Amal Abdel-shafi, one of the women beneficiaries of the project and the main breadwinner of her family explained: “I received training on fish cleaning, filleting and cooking during the project. My dream is a fish restaurant. After completing the training and working as a sous-chef in one of Aswan hotels, I decided to open my own restaurant in El-Mahmoudya, Aswan. Before the project, I used to clean fish for clients and gained 5 pounds per kilo. Today, two months after I opened my own restaurant, I earn double the amount for preparing and cooking fish. I am now having more customers day after day.
To encourage young graduates, WorldFish moreover organized an entrepreneurship competition for fish smoking projects, including training on developing a business model. Winners received prizes to launch their first businesses: oven, cleaning equipment, etc. The first winner, Mostafa Nabil Mansour started his own fish smoking project.
Together, WorldFish and the Swiss Embassy have supported fisheries and aquaculture value chains in Egypt for almost a decade. Both have previously supported the sector in Fayoum, Kafr El-Sheikh, Beheira, Sharkia and Minya, in addition to Aswan.