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Support for participatory development and sustainable management of inland fisheries in Benin

The project aims to strengthen the capacities of fishing communities in the Ouémé Valley to improve fishing techniques and reduce poverty.

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Lead Applicant Organization Name

Amis de l’Afrique Francophone- Bénin (AMAF-BENIN)

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small NGO (under 50 employees)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

www.amafbj.wixsite.com/amafbj

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 3-10 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Cotonou

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Benin

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Ouémé Valley region, located in Benin, on 47,008 ha, i.e 470 km^2 with five municipalities (Adjohoun, Bonou, Dangbo, Aguégués, Sô-Ava)

What country is your selected Place located in?

Benin

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

We have been working in this region targeted by the project since 2012 as part of our actions to conserve biodiversity and wet ecosystems and to improve the living conditions of communities.

 Our almost continuous presence in this region has enabled us to identify the problems linked to fishing activities, which do not allow the sustainable exploitation of fishery resources. The fishermen who were approached recognized the problem and tried to justify it. The fishermen were invited to a consultation and expressed expectations for a reorganization of their activities, expectations relating to the sustainable exploitation of fishery resources and the reduction of poverty. All these expectations are taken into account by this project. Fishermen and their organizations, as well as community women who market the resources, will be involved at all stages of implementation. This will guarantee real appropriation of the project's achievements as well as long-term commitments.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

The Benin being located in an intertropical zone, its climate is hot and humid, with relatively two rainy seasons and two dry seasons in its southern part. This southern part of the country and in particular the coast concentrates economic activities as well as a high proportion of the population. This situation accentuates the deterioration of the coastal zone, which is already undergoing the increasing effects of pollution due to oil, waste, coastal erosion as well as rising sea levels. The Ouémé Valley region which is part of the South of the country is located between 6 ° 35'21 '' and 6 ° 53'66 '' north latitude and between 2 ° 21'26 '' and 2 ° 28 ' 01 '' east longitude, is a very important step in the migratory process, breeding or wintering places for many aquatic species. The various ecosystems (aquatic, semi-aquatic and terrestrial) that constitute it, provide ecological and ecosystem functions and services, and it therefore constitutes a biological and economic reserve for the riparian communities. It shelters indigenous and local communities "toffin and Wémènou" generally fishermen and farmers. It is home to the largest lakeside village in Africa "Ganvié", also known as "Venus of Africa" located on Lake Nokoué. The Ouémé Valley offers multiple economic activities, such as agriculture, fishing, animal husbandry, hunting, exploitation of non-wood forest products, tourism, etc. Rivers are used for river transport, irrigation, harvesting of fishery resources, etc. The Ouémé Valley is an important component of Ramsar Site 1018, a wetland of international importance and a Key Biodiversity Zone (ZCB). It is made up of Lake Nokoué, Ouémé-Sô, the Cotonou Channel, the Totchè Canal, the Porto-Novo Lagoon, mangroves and flood plains. The Ouémé Valley plays a very important socio-economic role by providing most of the national fishery production and many other food resources in Benin and West Africa (Roche International, 2000; Abou et al 2007; Lalèyè et al. 2011).

Because of its great landscape quality, the Ouémé Valley is a place of relaxation and leisure. Traditional dances and cults in Bamè, Bembè or Hozin, sacred sites, religious beliefs, etc. are moments of intense discovery. The rich flora and fauna of certain localities including swamp forests and community reserves of Bamezoun, Houèkè, the sites of Vodounto, the lakeside village of Ganvié, etc. are observed in the region.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)

470

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

901000

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Benin which appears to be an economic paradox thanks to its advantageous geographical position (proximity to Nigeria, link between West Africa and French-speaking Central Africa) and having significant resources to develop a diversified economy and prosperous, unfortunately evolves with weak and insufficient growth and far from significantly raising the standard of living of its population. Beyond the cyclical factors, the weak growth of the Beninese economy is a reflection of its structural constraints linked in particular to the poor diversification of sources of growth. The economy is dominated by agriculture and services, with dominance by the cotton sector, which is the country's main export product, accounting for 40% of official exports. Aquaculture remains an underdeveloped sector in the country.

For the fisheries sector, the reforms undertaken concern the strengthening of the institutional and legal system for fisheries management, the draft framework law as well as the development of a strategic agricultural recovery plan which includes the fisheries development program and of aquaculture (PADPA). These reforms, which have become necessary, to take charge of the inland fishing sector threatened by the overexploitation of the main resources, are still struggling to materialize, due to lack of means and lack of commitment on the part of the public administration.

The constraints of the fisheries management system relate to the poor mastery of fishing techniques, the lack of appropriate materials and equipment, the lack of a training center for close qualification training for fishermen that can allow sustainable fishing and compliance with the laws, difficulty in conservation of fishery products by the actors, lack of communication and social marketing for the promotion of products, difficulty in accessing reliable information in terms of support for local development. Inland fishing, the main source of national fishery production (80%), is subject to the use of gear and the practice of destructive fishing for resources. In addition, there are environmental constraints (silting up the channel, pollution, climate change). All these factors, which combined with overfishing and climate change, accelerate the overexploitation of fish stocks. This may ultimately lead to an irreversible deterioration of the Beninese ecosystem and fishery resources if appropriate measures are not taken into account quickly. In addition, and like the other countries of the Gulf of Guinea, Benin is facing the effects of climate change, which combined with overfishing are accelerating the degradation of fish stocks and consequently making the situation of thousands of fishermen more fragile.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

The project to support participatory development and sustainable management of inland fisheries in Benin aims to strengthen the technical and financial capacities of fishing communities to improve the management of their fishing activities and reduce the current and future impacts of threatening climate change their livelihoods. The project aims more particularly to strengthen fishing activities and improve the incomes of fishermen to reduce poverty and achieve food security among rural communities in the Ouémé Valley and Benin in general, through training and support for modern equipment that respects the environment.

 The overall objective of the project is to make a contribution to improving food security, promoting economic empowerment of fishing communities and local employment, and ensuring the sustainable exploitation of fishery resources. More specifically, it aims to increase fishery production and the income of fishermen and improve the nutritional situation of the population, and to stop the negative vicious cycle of climate change, the depletion of aquaculture yields and the degradation of natural resources in wetlands in southern Benin and, in so doing, strengthen the climate resilience of local communities. This objective will be achieved by using a sustainable approach which integrates climate-friendly fishing techniques which focus on: i) the sustainable exploitation of fishery resources (thanks to the restoration of degraded wet ecosystems (in particular mangroves and humid forests), including reducing the use of traditional fish traps called "Acadja"; ii) improving fishery management (through improving the technical capacity of fishermen), including support for adequate materials and equipment (boat, nets, paddle, etc.); iii) sustainable satisfaction of basic production, processing and marketing needs (through monitoring, control and surveillance, and widespread awareness of best fishing practices) in order to reduce pressures on resources, poverty reduction and building climate resilience.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

The implementation of the project will intensify fish production throughout the Ouémé Valley region and in Benin through the improvement of fishing and fish farming techniques. This will allow permanent availability of fishery resources, including increasing the income of local communities which ensures their economic empowerment, improving their living conditions and ensuring food security for the Beninese populations and West of Africa in general. We will also see the reduction of poverty and the reduction of the effects of climate change, as well as the capacities of communities to resist the effects of climate change.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Our vision addresses the six interconnected themes as follows:

Environment:

The development of fishing is confronted with a certain number of problems of which the most worrying are the destruction of the forests and the aquatic vegetation which causes everywhere the erosion of the banks and consequently participates in the filling of the body of water for reason of practice from Acadja. This situation is compounded by overuse of the various water bodies. Also, the rapid increase in the fishing population has resulted in overfishing, the symptoms of which are already noticeable: increased fishing effort and the widespread practice of devastating gear and methods. This leads to massive destruction of the mangrove ecosystems, the erosion of the banks, the multiplication of conflicts between owners of acadja, open water fishermen, navigation problems, etc.

The present project which aims to restore degraded ecosystems, general awareness and reorganization of fishing activities is a solution to these environmental problems.

Diets:

The fishing sector in Benin is quite similar to the situation in the rest of the world. It provides direct and indirect jobs to around 600,000 people; most of them live in coastal areas in labor-intensive artisanal fishing communities.

Fish provides up to 32% of all animal protein in the diet. Inland fishing, unlike sea fishing, is the most important fisheries sub-sector in the country, providing up to 75% of national fish production. The project will increase fishery production and ensure food security.

Economy:

The Benin with an almost rectilinear sea front with a length of 125 km and a vast hydrographic network made up of 4 main rivers, the sector of fishing and aquaculture plays an important role in the economy of Benin with a contribution of 3% to GDP. It employs 15% of the total active population and 25% of the active population in the agricultural sector. It represents around 600,000 jobs and provides almost 30% of the total amount of animal protein consumed. It thus constitutes one of the levers of action of the Strategic Plan to revive the agricultural sector (PSRSA) which aims at a total production of 56,000 t to meet the needs of the population in fishery products. Also, fishing represents an important sub-sector in the economy of Benin. It generates many jobs, supports several people upstream and downstream and provides enough animal protein.

Culture:

The Fishing in Benin is an activity reserved for certain indigenous and community groups called "Xla and Toffin" who practice fishing as a cultural and worship activity. Because of this historical and cultural aspect, fishing in Benin is a traditional fishing which uses almost the same materials as modern fishing with a little noticed variation and which is related to the culture of the different practicing peoples. Fishing is an old practice, based on traditions and cultures whose knowledge is passed on from generation to generation. Also, in the fishing community the Negro-African influence was preponderant and continues to deeply mark the reality of fishing in everyday life. In other words, the transmission of fishing knowledge is based on the observation of the practice of the ancients. In general, fishermen do not fish precisely out of a taste for fishing; they make a job that seems more affordable to them because of the reality of the area where they live.

Technology:

Fishermen have very little adequate equipment for the development of aquaculture in Benin. This project will provide professional materials (regulatory net, small boat, refrigerator, etc.) and simple teaching materials, manuals or calendars, mainly using easily understandable drawings and diagrams, including by the population of fishermen whose rate of literacy is low.

The Project will carry out experimental trials to improve techniques relating to the production of clari fry, the development of farmed food, and the management and harvesting of farmed fish. The experiments will mainly be carried out on the sites in collaboration with key fishermen and fish farmers.

Policies:

In the fisheries sector, the reforms undertaken concern the strengthening of the institutional and legal system for fisheries management, the draft framework law as well as the development of a strategic agricultural recovery plan which includes the fisheries development program and of aquaculture (PADPA). Also, the Government Action Program (PAG), puts the promotion of continental aquaculture at the center of the listed priority actions. This project strives to help achieve this goal.

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