By Isatou Jawara
The West African Development for Artisanal Fisheries (WADAF), a sub-regional fisheries project which is currently implemented in seven countries which are members of the Sub regional fisheries commission (SRFC) West Africa, has organized a capacity building forum for local fishermen on how to develop action plan ahead of project funds disbursement.
The WADAF projects will be implementing various landing sites including Bakau, Tanji, Brufut and Jeshwang. The project will last for three years beginning in December 2015-2018 co-financed by French Development Agency (FDA).
The purpose of the project is to strengthen fisheries governance in West Africa and improve the lives of artisanal fisheries organizations as well as promote sustainable development in member countries of the fisheries sector.
The executive director of WADAF, Musa Mbenga, harped on the importance attached to capacity building, saying that there is need to build capacities of fishermen who are the sole beneficiaries of this project.
He said before taking up this responsibility, awareness creation should be there and the need to sensitize the grassroots communities about the benefit of the project is key.
“We must prepare a collective action plan before disbursement of funds starts and to prepare well before the project kicks start, the project will start before the end of the month, the start phase will kick off soon. We work according to rules and supervision of the project to implement it,” he said.
“The WADAF project was designed years back in Ivory Coast; its regional office is based in Dakar Senegal, being implemented in seven regional countries including The Gambia, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Sierra Leone.”
Dawda Saine, National correspondent for the WADAF project, strengthening the capacity of fisher folk in Africa, said the focus is geared towards developing their capacity of resources management, processing and also organizational management, communication and advocacy.
According to Saine, this project costs D4 millions dalasi and as soon as work plans are done, the project will kick – start implementation next month.
Speaking at the occasion, the representative from the department of fisheries Amadou Sanneh, said: “The Gambia is benefiting a lot from the WADAF project through capacity building infrastructure at the landing sites. They are also training our local fishermen on how to handle and manage fisheries resources. The action plan will involve proper handling of the landing sites.”
The Project Coordinator of WADAF, Aminata Mbenga, said the project aims to strengthen the professional skills of Artisanal Fisheries Professional Organization (AFPOs) as well as their autonomy in order to improve their capacities to influence public fisheries policies in the 7 countries covered by the Sub Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC).
According to her, the training is one of the flagship activities of the project. In this framework, twelve training sessions were organized for the benefit of 45 fishers, fish wholesalers and fish processors from AFPOs. 21 trained in the fish phase and 24 new leaders in the 7 countries of intervention of the project.
The president of Fish Smokers Association of Tanji landing site, Bintou Ceesay said they have benefitted from the WADAF project through support from NASCOM, a community based organisation supporting artisanal fishermen.
“Tanji landing site is the biggest fishing landing site in the Gambia; our fish smokers association have gathered around D150,000 which is deposited at the bank and we are currently setting up a credit union which will give out loans to our members.”
Haddy Gaye from Serrekunda Fish Market, lamented: “We lack a fish market at Serrekunda. Fish vendors display their fish on ground to sell which is not healthy. They sometimes spoil and we cannot sell them again,” she said while urging authorities to construct a toilet for them as they lack proper hygiene.