My name is Festus Massaho; I was born and grew up in Kibuyi village alongside Lake Victoria in Mara Tanzania. Fishing was a livelihood activity. Currently fishers across all ages in my community do not get enough fishes. The situation is getting worse as years go by. In its official study, IUCN reported that there is continuous decline of fish species in Lake Victoria and the risk of species extinction is higher. As this activity is close to my heart, I established Blue Victoria Organization to respond to this alarming situation as an attempt to address the same. The Organization works in freshwater biodiversity conservation, fisheries and aquaculture, climate change and knowledge bank. Kindly join me in setting up and managing Indigenous Community Conservation Areas in Lake Victoria for freshwater biodiversity conservation.
Kibuyi bay is a bay found in Lake Victoria in Tanzania side. This bay is in Mara region in the district of Rorya. It covers three wards which are Nyamunga ward in Kibuyi village, Kyang’ombe ward in Muhundwe village and Baraki ward in Bitiryo village. The bay consists three wetlands which are kibuyi wetland, Muhundwe wetland and Bitiryo wetland. Those wetlands are important sites for fish breeding, birds, reptilians and amphibians. It is easily to see fish stools in wetlands.And also it is the home of many species including crane birds which IUCN listed as endangered species. In the bay you may find easily multiple fish species including those have been listed as endangered fish species in the basin. Also in shallow water of the bay it is common to find more groups of juvenile fishes roaming together than in the coastal waterfacing directly the main lake. This holds significant reason that the bay is breeding site for many freshwater biodiversity.
Despite the importance of this bay, there are a number of destruction activities of natural resources found in the bay. This includes mass burns of the wetlands, illegal fishing methods i.e. bottom trawling, using chemicals that are poison, using mpuku ( a local tool made to produce sounds in water which cause fish to run towards the fishing nets), and using prohibited fishing nets. This has lead to massive decrease of freshwater biodiversity in the lake.
Google image of Kibuyi Bay
Freshwater Biodiversity in Kibuyi Bay
Fish species are declining in the bay and in the Lake Victoria basin. In a very rare occusions, fish species like carpfish, trunkfish, pangasius,bagrus ( and other fishes known in local names as soga, mbofu, and ngere) can be found as it used to be thus making the risk of extinction REAL.The ongoing decline in freshwater biodiversity is impacting livelihoods of the rural poor in the bay mentioned above. Freshwater fishes are particularly important for provision of food (human and animal), and the Lake Victoria fishing supports household livelihoods of millions of people in the basin. Freshwater plants have diverse uses, including for medicine,food, construction and handicrafts. Thy constitute an important resource, since many communities either lack access to or cannot afford market goods. Todate, the IUCN report has shown that 22.6 % of fishes in the lake has been classified as Critical Endangered (CE), 1.7% Endangered (EN), 1.3% Vulnerable (VU), 12.42% Near Threatened (NT), 33.3% Data Deficiency, 28.2% Least Concern (LC), and 0.4% Extinction (EX)
Ethnical groups in Kibuyi bay
Community in Kibuyi bay has been divided into seven clans groups, which are Abhasubha, Abhakitaga, Abhanyambwe, Abhakanyama, Abharyaga, Abharimba, and Abhatunda. Each clan has its leadership. They meet together each monthly since time in memorial, a practice they inherited from their ancestors. In their meetings they discuss issues related to development including economic development for individuals, ceremonial issues such as initiation rites, and punishment community members for any misconduct.
Indigenous Community Conservation Area (ICCA).
ICCA Indigenous and community conserved areas (ICCAs), or indigenous peoples’ and
community conserved territories and areas, are spaces de facto governed by indigenous
peoples or local communities with evidently positive outcomes for the conservation of
biological and cultural diversity. In ICCAs, the continuation, revival or modification of
traditional practices in protecting and restoring natural resources and cultural
values in the face of new threats or opportunities. The ICCA consortium provided three characteristics for identifying ICCA;
- There is a closed and deep connection between a territory or area and indigenous people or local community. This relationship is generally embedded in history, social and cultural identity, spirituality and / or people’s reliance on the territory for their material and non material wellbeing.
- The custodian people or community makes and enforces decisions and rules (eg access and use) about the territory, area or species’ habitat through a functioning institution.
- The governance decision and management efforts of the concerned people or community contribute to conservation of nature (ecosystem, habitats, species, natural resource), as well as to community wellbeing.
Establishing ICCA in Kibuyi bay
In introducing ICCA concept in Kibuyi village, Mr Festus Massaho, a Co founder and Executive Director of Blue Victoria met with his clan Abhasubha in one of their monthly meeting. Mr. Massaho introduced an idea of conserving the bay. He explained why fishes are not found easily in the bay. He provided few copy of a scientific report produced by IUCN (is in Swahili version) which had very detailed information on the status of fishing in the Lake Victoria basin and its negative outcome as far as decline fish species in the lake and its warning for species extinction if no any measures to conserve them is not done timely.
Members of the meeting were exited with the idea and were willing to take measures necessary to conserve their bay. One of clan member Mzee Bilingi said “Our son brought to us a useful idea for our resources, we all knows that our life depend on fishing. The fact that fishes are vanishing is indeed a bad thing, the only choice we have is to go with our son’s idea”. In order to get a buy in in the whole area, this idea need to be introduced in all seven clans group of Kibuyi village.
Mr. Massaho showing IUCN report during his clan meeting.
ICCA is the new conservation approach to be implemented for freshwater biodiversity in Lake Victoria. We are novice in conservation issues. Our knowledge and skills for conservationmerely depend on both passion and technical knowledge acquired through use of internet resources. Thus, we need support in the following technical areas;
- Mentorship program for freshwater conservation,
- Leadership program for freshwater conservation,
- Organization Development,
- Fulfilling needs that will be raised by local community during strategizing meetings,
- Financial supports
Are you ready to contribute in of the need above? Reach out to us
Whatssap / Call +255 759 682 826
Hi Catherine, thanks for replay. I will keep updating for ICCAs and I will be sharing fisher stories in this platform.
You and your team you did good thing to bring small scale fishers around the world so that they can speak and share ideas for their works