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Women after fishing in Bondo Kenya.

This morning, I was reading from Bloomberg Business how Elon Musk pledged to support the UN on condition that it can prove it would end world hunger. It got me thinking about our sustainability models. As we empower communities, are we thinking of making them self-sufficient or we should continue giving them donations?

During my visit to Bondo, Kenya (where Former US President Barrack hails from), I met women working in the fishing industry. Widows who had lost their husbands from HIV/AIDS and had formed a support group that ensures they adhere to medication while getting sufficient nutrition. Most of them depended on their husbands to earn and provide for their basic needs. After their husbands died, they had to meet the needs of their families.

They decided to trade in a service they could only choose out of their financial desperation. Instead of selling fish by the lakeside, they decided to fish themselves. Most women in the region are forced to exchange fish for sex. The county government acknowledges this as a huge contributor to HIV/AIDS prevalence in the region. Most women give in to the pressure to get fish to sell at the market. The women group that was formed, resolved to end this by creating an enabling environment for women in the fishing industry.

Challenges women in the fishing industry encounter

Fishing at Lake Victoria

Despite the significant role they play in the industry, there are limited policies in place that protect women against sexual and financial exploitation.

After starting an empowerment group on the same, the women still struggle in the industry. Fishing is best done at night but with young families to fend for, they take weekly turns in going to the lake.

I noted that they use labour-intensive methods like paddling while fishing. This decreases their total output.

At night, they encounter many risks ranging from harsh climatic conditions to the possibility of an attack from malicious people.

Click here to read more about these women

How to ensure communities are self-sufficient?

My short interaction with these women was enlightening.

If for example, I resorted to thinking how I could give them something to help them get their own money/ food/ clothing, and essentials.

I realized the need to understand what communities exactly need to be self-sufficient. The women in question were supported by The Goat Foundation. After a risk analysis, we determined that the best way to support them is to give them goats for farming.

Considered part of arid areas in Kenya, smart farming would help the women and ensure while they are spending time with their family they generate consistent cash flow.

Moving from donor dependence to self-sufficiency

USAID for example is working with host country governments and their partners to achieve locally-sustained results. They plan to do this by strengthening local capacities.

Through Cause capitalism, this is attainable.

Steve Down with children in Bondo, Kenya.

Steve Down is the author of Financially Fit For Life, Founder of Financially Fit t- a for-profit organization that supports non-profits through his Cause Capitalism philosophy. He runs a non-profit company that empowers low-income households in rural Kenya through givebacks offering opportunities for sustainable income.

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