By: Robert Owiny
A seasonal stream in the outskirt of Yumbe Town Council, Yumbe district in West Nile region of Uganda is ironically an impediment to evolving unplanned infrastructure within the town, thanks to the conservation efforts by the Environment Department. On a positive note though, communities of Dodoronga village who surround this watercourse take advantage of the flowing and logged aqua by planting fast growing vegetables such as cabbages, tomatoes, carrots, onions, etc. which they supply to Yumbe town market and earn cash to support their households.
Apparently, attempts by private individuals and businesses to reclaim this spot and turn it around for construction of settlements have hit a dead end owing to a strict watch from the line department of Environment at Yumbe District Local Government. Swaibu Solo Andama the District Environment Officer said, the district is on course to discourage dampening of this natural feature on account of providing ecological balance.
In order to gain more from this stream, a disadvantaged but organized group of 96(60f,36m) members are now introducing commercial fish farming at the sideline of the wetland. They expect to produce fish for both internal and external markets. The group is being supported through a World Bank funding of the Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project(DRDIP) under the Office of the Prime Minister.
The Dodoronga Fish Pond investment idea came from the Community members who wrote a sub project proposal costed at Ugsh57 million and shared to DRDIP management through the focal point persons at the district. On assessment by the technical project team, the project was seen as viable and approved for funding thus, Gulu University Faculty of Agriculture was contracted as technical implementing partner to support this community initiative.
Tiko Kasim Noah, the group Chairperson Project Management Committee(CPMC) who offered a piece of land adjacent to the stream said the group is determined to create wealth out of fish farming. Rukia Chandiru, a group member noted that the fish Pond project will boost their group savings and enable members to support their children in school besides settling other household requirements. Another group member, Zaitun Ijovi, shares the same aspiration as Chandiru, adding that she will be able to start up her family business after receiving savings emanating from sales of fish.
Gerald Degu Iwe, the Aquaculture Research Scientist and Technical Field Coordinator who represents Gulu University in this project site said the Pond measures 640 Square meters (36 by 20 meters). It is anticipated to accommodate up to 6,400 mad fish pieces. Mr Iwe added that the pond is of both economic and environmental importance to the community, and that future proceeds from sale of fish will boost household income for the group members. Fish production cycle is between nine to 10 months and Mr. Iwe said the gate price for one kilogram of mad fish in Yumbe is about Ugsh15,000.
DRDIP support for this investment covers; construction of the pond, procurement of fry and initial feeding costs. The funding also caters for administrative costs for the group members and capacity building activities.
The District Environment Officer is hopeful that DRDIP support to Dodoronga fish Pond sub project will stimulate further restoration initiatives for the wetland. “We shall want to ensure prolonged flow of water so as to support the activities within the area”, said Andama. Andama also observed that the district has already built capacity of the group on wetland restoration and come up with a Community Wetland Action Plan that will guide on preservation interventions.
Fishing plays a significant role in food provision, employment opportunity and cash to households. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that the fisheries sector contribution to Uganda’s GDP stands at 2.39%. Last year, Uganda earned up to USD 136,823,740, from fish and fish products.
DRDIP is a five-year World Bank funded regional project intended to address the impacts of protracted presence of refugees on host communities within five IGAD countries; Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia. In Uganda, DRDIP is being implemented in 15 districts of; Adjumani, Moyo, Obongi, Yumbe, Koboko, Terego, Arua and Madi-Okollo in the West Nile sub region, Lamwo in Acholi and Kiryandongo, Hoima, Kikuube in Bunyoro Sub Region. Others are; Isingiro, Kamwenge and Kyegegwa in the Mid-Western part of the Country. END