The first executive bureau meeting of the Africa Women Fish Processors and Traders Network (AWFISHNET) was held in Dar es Salaam Tanzania in July, 2018 with support from the African Union InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) within the provisions of the EU funded Fisheries Governance project.
The objectives of fist bureau meeting were to:
- Take stock of the AWFISHNET Progress in the implementation of the action plan. Reflect on what has worked, what has not and why, and what can be done to improve. While learning from the one year existence, the bureau will also identify priorities and strategize on the way forward.
- To develop an AWFISHNET’s capacity empowerment program that responds to the needs of the members
- to develop resource mobilization strategy and map potential partners for AWFISHNET.
The meeting was attended by 10 current elected members of the AWFISHNET Executive Bureau who came from countries: Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Benin, Tanzania, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Algeria, and Cameroun. Also present were legal advisor Ms. Mrema from Sia Advocates, Tanzania and website designer Ms. Urio form HMT Media Limited.
The Deputy Chair, Ms. Jeriedayaro Patricia Uweheraka, welcomed participants to the first executive bureau of AWFISHNET on behalf of the network’s Chair. In her opening remarks she expressed her thanks to AU-IBAR for all the support it had given AWFISHNET right from its inception, noting that this was the first time women in fish trade across Africa had their own much needed united forum through which they could discuss, communicate and take action on their concerns. She also expressed gratitude on behalf of the women in AWFISHNET to the Tanzanian Government for hosting AWFISHNET, twice in a row, at its inception and this current meeting. She acknowledged the work undertaken by the legal and website consultants.
The meeting was officially opened by Mrs. Neema Respickius - Fisheries Officer, Ministry of Livestock and fisheries, Tanzania on behalf of the respective Tanzanian Director of Fisheries Ms. Fatima Sobo. She welcomed the participants to Dar es Salaam noting the privilege AWFISHNET bestowed upon Tanzania, in selecting it to host such significant and momentous continental meetings on Women and Fish Trade. As someone who worked in the fisheries sector, she appreciated the contribution of women to the sector and wished the women success in their deliberations.
The meeting deliberated on the following:
- The legal registration of AWFISHNET as a continental NGO in Tanzania.
- The development of a website for AWFISHNET
- Up-dates of AWFISHNET Country Activities since 2017 – the accomplishment, challenges and suggestions on the way forward
- A review of the status of implementation 2017-2018 AWFISHNET action plan.
- AWFISHNETs collaboration with SwedBio of Sweden and proposals for activities for the year 2018/2019.
- Development of Action and Resource Mobilization Plan 2018-2020.
Outcomes of the meeting
- Upon return, participants would obtain legal advice on whether or not AWFISHNET could legally be registered as a continental institution within their respective Member States.
- Seek advice on what options there are for establishing legal NSA continental networks under the auspices of other AU frameworks. For this, they requested the support of AU-IBAR.
Executive bureau to mobilize members to provide the additional information required for the finalization of the website and to ensure that it remains active with the next couple of weeks.
Review of the Action Plan 2017/2018 and Development of action plan 2018-2019
Based on the deliberations on the accomplishments of previous action plans and the national status reports, the following priority actions were identified for the 2018-2020 action plan:
- The need to booster the formation of national associations.
- The need to identify focal points in each country to ease communication and exchange of information between the main secretariat and members within Member Countries.
- Seek additional avenues for resource mobilisation particularly to support national activities, capacity building in phyto-sanitation, value-addition of products, access to more competitive local and regional markets, leadership and entrepreneurship skills.
- Develop TORs for national focal points and all executive positions by the next AWFISHNET general election to enhance the performance and accountability among elected office bearers.
- Set up a skype account to permit regular conferencing among office bearers and members.
- Develop a resource mobilisation plan for both the continental and national units that includes seeking support for fishing and fish processing companies particularly on capacity building and development of information notably film clips, the latter of which loaded onto the website are to cater for illiterate women in the respective national and vernacular languages.
- Harmonise reports and reporting to enhance the collation of information at national level, its synthesis and dissemination on the website.
Collaboration with SwedBio
- Five countries were selected to participate in the 2018/2019 Swedbio support program for the strengthening of national women’s fish processors and traders associations in the respective countries, namely: Algeria, Zambia, Republic of Congo, Benin and Tanzania.
- The AWFISHNET representative on Youth and Disability was nominated to represent AWFISHNET at the upcoming global fisheries meeting in November, 2018 at FAO-Rome, Italy to discuss the challenges faced by rural women in the fisheries.
- The next AWFISHNET general Assembly shall be held in November, 2018 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania as among the commemorative events of the World Fisheries Week.
- Provide for an interpreter at all AWFIHSNET continental meetings to ensure the full contribution of all participating members.
- Combine leadership training for all office bearers during the next General Assembly.
- Each country to start sending reports regularly and these shall be shared website.
- Executive to continue seeking additional avenues for resource mobilization and ideas to enhance institutional self-sustainability.
- Nominated countries to develop comprehensive work plans and budgets for the agreed upon activities and present these for review and approval at the next Bureau Meeting in November, 2018.
Closing of the workshop
Closing remarks Mrs. Uwheraka, the AWFISHNET Deputy Chair who extended her appreciation to the Government of Tanzania and AU-IBAR for the continued support to the women in the fisheries industry. She called on the Bureau to do their best to ensure AWFISHNET succeeds in meeting its objectives in order that the women in the sector are uplifted and fish processing and trade becomes a respectable job that women can undertake with dignity.
On behalf of the Director AU-IBAR, Dr. Nelly Isyagi acknowledged with appreciation the accomplishments of AWFISHNET since its inception. She reiterated continued support of AU-IBAR, given its mandate with respect to animal resources and the fisheries in particular. She thanked the people and Government of Tanzania for accepting to this AWFISHNET meeting.
Mrs. Respickius officially closed the meeting on behalf of the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, Tanzania. In her closing remarks she reiterated the support of Tanzania towards women fish processors and traders who were, in Tanzania too, significant.