At the fishing port of Gbétsogbé in Katanga on the coast, there are many women fishmongers and fish processors whose activities contribute enormously to food security.
Organized in cooperatives and in a union of women’s cooperatives, they buy fish from fishermen which they resell to end consumers fresh or processed.
These women fishmongers and fish processors, however, face the problem of financing in their activities, a situation aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
They are obliged to take loans from microfinance institutions but at very high interest rates (15 to 18%). These rates are very difficult to bear in an artisanal fishing sector where the actors are very vulnerable.
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In response, a project “Support for the response to COVID-19 in the agricultural sector in Togo” has been launched by FAO to support women fish processors in Katanga and fishmongers in the fishing port of Gbétsogbé.
The goal is to help them empower themselves through the “Caisse de Résilience” methodology.
Preliminary work was carried out by the FAO and which made it possible to identify a total of 17 fishmonger cooperatives at the fishing port which were grouped into 08 village savings and credit associations (AVEC) and 16 fish processing cooperatives in Katanga grouped into 06 WITH.
A project with high added value
In order to better support these VSLAs already formed, the project organized from June 21 to 23, a capacity building workshop for two women per association who will be responsible for providing facilitation for the animation of the VSLAs.
For three days, beneficiaries and trainers worked to build the capacities of 30 women from the artisanal fishing sector on the resilience fund approach and village savings and credit associations (VSLAs) with a view to their appropriation.
“The objective is to enable the beneficiaries to become independent in their activities. The women we train have already had capacity building in relation to fish processing. With the village savings and credit associations, we want to equip them on the financial side with the resilience fund approach. After this phase, we will do a third social side which can concern social peace, peace at home, etc.”, indicates Gnandi Tabe, in charge of monitoring and evaluation of projects at FAO-Togo.
In the resilience fund approach, FAO supports beneficiaries on three pillars: technical, financial and social. The VSLA is the pillar of the resilience fund approach.
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“We expect that after a few months, these women will create dynamic VSLAs that save income in order to support their fish conservation or processing activities. The objective is to reduce vulnerability in this very strategic sector for the fish economy. country”, underlines Kossi Sena Adufu, in charge of the resilience program at the FAO Africa regional office in Accra (Ghana).
The project enabled beneficiaries to be equipped with cooperative savings systems with low interest rates. An update that should allow them to flourish in their activities.
“We thank the FAO for this project. We have learned how to contribute to each other, women and save it. These funds can be used to offer loans to members of our village savings and loan associations with an interest rate of 5% that we decided together. Our work requires a lot of financial resources. With our resilience fund, we can apply for loans from banking institutions in order to continue our activities in good conditions”, testifies Amy Fiatepetfish processor.
“It’s an approach that will really help us to make loans between members. I’m very happy with this project, especially the interest rate on loans set at 5%. It’s really an opportunity for us women of the fishing sector”, adds Adjoavi Togbenou, general secretary of women fishmongers at the fishing port.
In the process, documentation kits on how to develop the resilience fund approach were offered to women beneficiaries.