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THE FUTURE IS AN ANCIENT LAKE

Traditional knowledge, biodiversity and genetic resources for food and agriculture in Lake Chad Basin ecosystems






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    Spirulina: a livehood and a business venture 2011
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    Spirulina is a micro-algae and as such has been growing naturally in our environment for millions of years, it is a tough plant able to withstand harsh growing conditions, in fact the micro-algae cell never really dies it goes dormant when weather conditions are not favourable, and as soon as these change and the environment is once again suitable for growth, spirulina begins growing and reproducing again. Naturally growing spirulina can be found in high alkaline lakes and in general it is said that where flamingos are, spirulina is sure to be found. The Mexicans where the first to discover its wonderful health properties and in the 16th Century the Aztecs around Lake Texcoco were known to feature it on their dinner tables. In the 1940’s a French phycologist discovered spirulina to be growing in Africa; Lake Chad and the lakes of the Rift Valley in Eastern Africa were the main areas where spirulina thrived. The Kenembus tribe of Chad harvest the algae from the lake and dry it in the su n in a cake shape form, which is locally called “dihe”. This is sold to the markets and has become a staple diet for some of the communities living around Lake Chad. In a study on the correlation between poverty and malnutrition 10 countries were taken as examples. Of those 10 countries 9 were found to have a direct link between poverty and malnutrition – Chad was the only country that was poor but had no malnutrition. Modern day technology allows us to grow spirulina in man-made machines called Photo Bio-Reactors (PBR) – these machines are ideal to grow the algae in conditions where the natural habitat would otherwise not permit the cell to normally grow. Although briefly mentioned in this study PBRs are not ideal to grow and harvest spirulina in the ESA-IO region for primarily two reasons. Firstly the initial start-up costs are too high – and although most PBRs promise high yields in micro-algae production in reality only some are able to achieve those promises. Secondly most of the region is favourable to spirulina growth without the use of expensive machines and it can be cultured and harvested fairly easily in man-made basins and ponds. Spirulina is a highly nutritious natural substance, which has in recent years gained, once again, interest in both developing and developed countries. It is very in high protein content; yields 20 times more protein per acre than soybeans, 40 times more than corn, and over 200 times more than beef make it an ideal food supplement for ever yone. More awareness needs to be raised so that people understand what spirulina can do, its high protein, vitamin, mineral and micro-nutrient properties are good for both the ill (HIV/AIDS), malnourished children and infants and for the health conscious. In some cases spirulina has been incorrectly marketed as a medicine giving people, particularly the ill, false hope – in fact spirulina is a food supplement whose main benefit is the boosting of the immune system.
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    Assessment of IUU activities on Lake Victoria 2012
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    Fishing all over the world is a major source of food for humanity and a provider of employment and economic benefits to those engaged in the activity. However, with increased knowledge and the dynamic development of fisheries, it should be known that world living aquatic resources, although renewable, are not infinite and need proper management, if their continued contribution to the nutritional, economic and social well-being of the growing world’s population is to be sustained. Lake Victoria i s Africa’s largest and most important inland water body with a total water surface area of 68,800km2. Lake Victoria contributes significantly through its fishery and generation of electricity to the economic benefits of not only the riparian states, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, but also to the neighboring countries and the world at large. Lake Victoria is arguably the most important single source of freshwater fish on the African continent, contributing significantly to national and regional econ omies and livelihoods of the regions inhabitants. Although not often associated with inland fisheries, Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and the trade of illegal fish has threatened the biological, social, financial and cultural integrity of the lakes resources and those that depend on them. Given that Lake Victoria’s living resources are shared amongst the three riparian states, a regional fisheries body, the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO) was formed in 1994 though the technical assistance of the FAO to manage the fisheries resources in Lake Victoria as a single ecological entity. Within the LVFO mandate, the identified areas of IUU fishing are considered in the form of: Illegal or misuse of fishing gears; illegal fishing, fish landing, processing and trading; unregulated fishing number of boats, fishers and gears (capacity); unregulated, unreported or undocumented domestic and regional fish trade; fishing and landing undersize fish in undesignated landing sites; and fishing during closed seasons or in the closed breeding areas or critical habitats. The decline of Nile perch stocks suggest that fisheries management and compliance structures within the three riparian states and at LVFO at the moment are at various levels of disarray, hence allowing IUU fishing to continue thriving unabated. Since the introduction of Nile perch into Lake Victoria in the 1950’s it has been the focus of an intensifying commercial fishery. In 1980, a total of 4 439 to ns of Nile perch were harvested, a decade later over 338 115 tons of Nile perch were landed annually. From 2000 to 2010, and average of 253 404 tons of Nile perch are caught. Despite relatively consistent landings reported by the LVFO, total biomass of Nile perch decreased from 1.4 million tons (92% of total biomass in Lake Victoria) in 1999 to it lowest recorded estimate of 298 394 tons in 2008 (14.9% of total biomass in Lake Victoria). Currently, as of 2010, the Nile perch biomass was estimate d at 18% of total biomass in Lake Victoria, which equates to 367 800 tons. Although a slight increase in biomass between 2008 and 2010 was observed, Nile perch biological indicators suggest that the fish is in a critical survival state. The average size of Nile perch has decreased from 51.7 cm TL to 26.6 cm TL, according to hydro acoustic surveys suggesting that a significant portion of total Nile perch biomass is less than 50 cm TL (legal size for export). It was reported by the LVFO stock asse ssment team that in 2006 and 2008, less than 2% of the Nile perch biomass was in fact greater than 50 cm TL. The size at first maturity of male and female Nile perch is also decreasing, this common amongst fish populations that are stressed (or overexploited). Despite the biological indicators, which suggest legal size Nile perch are less than 2% of total Nile perch biomass, the average number of fishermen increased by 33% between 2000 and 2008. During the same period, Frame survey and MCS compl iance missions noted a marked increase in the number of illegal gears being deployed to target undersize Nile perch. The number of vessels increased by 37% and the use of outboard engines increased by approximately 50%. It has been reported that motorized boats are more efficient, catching about 25 kg of fish per day, compared to 10 kg caught by non-motorized vessels. The increase in use of illegal gears, motorized vessels and fishermen suggests that fishing for Nile perch is still profitable. P reviously driven by lucrative export prices for Nile perch, fishers now target undersize illegal Nile perch for the lucrative domestic and regional trade, which is estimated to exceed the export trade by volume and value. This shift in fishing for undersize Nile perch will effect government revenues earned from the export fishery. The Nile perch fishery over the last decade contributed 0.6% less to the Tanzanian GDP, similarly, a decrease in export trade of Nile perch from Uganda of 14% occurred between 2007 and 2008, resulting in a 0.1% decrease in GDP contribution. By not controlling fishing effort targeting illegal, undersized and immature Nile perch, economic and social hardships will worsen. Current fisheries management both regionally through the LVFO, and nationally amongst the riparian states is inadequate, with respect to Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS). MCS is a collection of activities and tools intended to support fisheries management in fighting IUU fishing, and forms the framework on which accurate, informative and dynamic fisheries management decisions can be made. MCS is critical at all levels of fisheries management. Within the Lake Victoria region, co-management has been implemented through the establishment of Beach Management Units (BMU’s). A BMU is a community-based organization, which is legally accepted as a representative of a fishing community and is mandated on a voluntary basis to engage in MCS initiatives. Lake Victoria has 1 087 registe red BMU’s according to the harmonized BMU guidelines, agreed upon amongst the member states and the LFVO. Although the inclusion of community based management and MCS is critical in contributing to effective management of Lake Victoria’s fisheries resources, many challenges exist, including amongst others; geographical isolation of fishing communities, social issues (families of BMU members may partake in illicit activities), political interference (revenue collections, or election voting), corr uption, conflict of interests (BMU members are often fishmongers and fish traders) and lack of representation in higher management committees. Although advances in MCS technology have revolutionized fisheries management amongst many ESA-IO countries, the sharing of regional resources and capacity is fragmented and not effectively harnessed by the LVFO. Database management systems are not working effectively, data collecting, analyzing and dissemination are unreliable and time inefficient, respec tively and appropriate MCS tools for example net gauges are not available. The RWG-MCS reported that between 2004 and the end of 2008, a total of 4 605 suspects were apprehended, 12 126 beach seines, 9 550 small seine nets, 27 703 monofilament nets, 248 843 kilograms of immature Nile perch (249 tons) and 254 589 illegal gillnets were confiscated. These data are unreliable; furthermore they were not quantified in terms of definition of the item (how long were the nets that were confiscated 80 met er, or one kilometer, this has a profound effect on CPUE), of financial loss to fishers and traders versus the opportunity costs of MCS. The valve of court fines are insignificant especially if one considers the amount of uncontrolled fishing effort, uncontrolled illegal gears used in Lake Victoria, and the increasing value in the trade of immature fish on domestic markets. Also, there is no indication as to whether the court penalties and fines imposed on the same offences in the three partner states have any reference to the same severity across the region, or are recycled back into MCS initiatives. It is therefore difficult to determine whether the RWG-MCS interventions from 2004 to the end of 2008 were beneficial, as little to no comparative data exists. The LVFO depends highly on donor funds to support MCS and management initiatives, including training, capacity building and technical expertise. When donor funds are not available, regional MCS stagnates, which is a major concern. Operation Save the Nile perch is one such example. The EAC Council of Ministers in 2009 launched the ‘Operation Save the Nile Perch’ (OSNP), which required each of the three member states to contribute US$ 600 000. The goal of the initiative was to target illegal fishing and to curb the trade in undersize Nile perch currently threatening the economic integrity of Lake Victoria. The target of OSNP, as ratified by the Council of Ministers was to have fisheries illegalities in the lake, based on th e 2008 frame survey data as bench mark, reduced by 50% in June and 100% by December 2009. Currently as of 2011, Kenya has paid the required funds, with Tanzania only contributing 31% and Uganda zero resulting in less than half of the required funds paid in by from the member states. This undermines the legitimacy of ‘Operation Save the Nile Perch’ and political will and MCS operational capacity. The aim of this report was to assess the state of IUU in Lake Victoria, and to support the SMARTFISH programme in assisting the LVFO and established MCS committees to implement joint regional MCS trainings, by conducting a short cost benefit analysis of enhancing existing regional MCS initiatives and by evaluating past and present regional action plans to deter IUU fishing on Lake Victoria. An action plan was developed through a participatory workshop between the LVFO, national states and the MCS-RWG, held in Jinja, Uganda from the 5th to the 7th of October 2011.
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    Book (series)
    Evaluation of the FAO response to the crisis in the Lake Chad Basin 2015‒2018 2021
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    Forty-nine million people live in the Lake Chad region, exploiting its rich natural resources and relatively constant supply of water, fodder and fertile land all year round. The area used to be a food production hub, with local markets supplying produce to Cameroon, Chad, the Niger and Nigeria. However, poor natural resource management, poor coordination across the different countries of the region, and the widespread impact of climate change have contributed to the significant deterioration of the Lake’s natural ecosystem capacity. Agricultural soils and pastures have been widely degraded, leading to a huge reduction in food productivity and, thus, job opportunities, especially for the youth living in rural areas who account for a high percentage of the population. Conflicts and tensions have created a conducive context for young people in search of income and opportunities to join the Boko Haram terrorist movement originated in Nigeria. This evaluation was conducted to address FAO’s response to the Lake Chad Basin crisis, including interventions conducted in 2015‒2018, as FAO published the Lake Chad Basin Crisis Response Strategy (2017–2019) to address the needs of the identified 6.9 million people affected by soaring food insecurity in the Lake Chad Basin in early 2017. The objectives of this evaluation were to analyse FAO’s responses to the crisis at operating level, with a focus on efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability, while assessing the relevance and consistency of the regional approach from a strategic perspective. The evaluation team visited many of the areas concerned, and at the end of each visit they organized a debriefing session with the respective FAO country team to share information gathered and collect complementary data and analysis to inform its deliberations. This helped to ensure transparency in the data collection process and to maximize the learning process. For FAO to support the food security and nutrition of communities in the Lake Chad region effectively, a regional strategy focused on supporting the resilience of communities is relevant and appropriate. Complementary to FAO’s country-based programmes, a regional strategy bears the potential to devise interventions that adapt to the cross-border nature of issues that each country faces and would allow supporting a more cohesive and collaborative way of working. Based on the Regional Response Strategy (2017–2019), FAO should revise its strategy and approach by incorporating governmental objectives, and translate it into an operational action plan, in line with other partners’ strategies in the region.

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