A total of 17,500 poor rural households in six regions of Eritrea will benefit from a financial agreement signed today between the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Eritrea to boost coastal and inland fisheries.
The total cost of the Programme is US$32.1 million of which IFAD is providing a US$15 million grant. It is co-financed by the Government of Germany ($5.9 million), the Global Environment Facility ($7.9 million), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations ($0.5 million), the Government of Eritrea ($1.4 million) and by the beneficiaries themselves ($1.3 million).
The financial agreement for the Fisheries Resources Management Programme (FReMP) was signed in Rome by Michel Mordasini, Vice-President of IFAD; and Fessahazion Petros, Ambassador of Eritrea to Italy and Permanent Representative Eritrea to Rome-based UN agencies, in the presence of Arefaine Berhe, Minister for Agriculture of Eritrea.
Eritrea has substantial and relatively underexploited marine and fisheries resources that have been underutilized for decades compared to neighbouring countries. These resources exist in an unpolluted, underexploited and under-capitalized marine environment. The Programme intends to invest both in large fisheries and small pelagics.
The Government of Eritrea has been making significant investments in the inland regions by constructing water retention dams in the inland regions. It has established 330 reservoirs, of which 70 are stocked with different fish species.
However, the inland fisheries resources have are hardly been exploited because local communities are generally not aware of the nutritional benefits of and they lack fishing skills and equipment, apart from the fact that traditionally they are not fishers. The Programme aims to positively change this situation by raising awareness, imparting the right skills and enabling the communities (especially youth and women) to acquire equipment for fishing, fish processing and marketing.
“This innovative programme will ensure that the country’s marine fishery resources are utilized in a sustainable manner to improve the livelihoods of Red Sea coastal communities,” said Eric Rwabidadi, IFAD Country Programme Manager for Eritrea.
“Moreover, inland fisheries and aquaculture present another great investment opportunity to increase fish production, incomes, nutrition and employment, especially for youth and women,” he added.
FReMP will support the establishment of infrastructure, and technologies for production, post-harvest operations and marketing of both marine and inland fisheries. In addition, it will promote the development and capacity building of cooperatives and other enterprises and ensure that they have access to the requisite tools to undertake economically viable and sustainable fish-related businesses.
Specifically, the programme will target 15 water reservoirs to demonstrate good practice and test successful models that can be replicated and scaled up in other reservoirs. It will also assist in developing climate resilient plans for the water reservoirs, which will lead to improved crop and livestock production. The aim is to not only increase incomes but also to improve food and nutrition security, through availability of increased quantity and quality fish.
In short, the programme is expected to transform Eritrea’s small-scale fisheries sector from subsistence to a sustainable commercial fish industry.
Since 1995, IFAD has financed five rural development programmes and projects in Eritrea for a total cost of $124.3 million, with an IFAD investment of $73.1 million directly benefiting 293,942 rural households.