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No Sex For Fish: How Women In A Fishing Village Are Fighting For Power

Leeda.the.Paladin

Well-Known Member


A tall woman with a strong gaze is standing by the shores of Lake Victoria. It's a busy morning. Boats are coming in full of fish: Nile perch, catfish, tiny silvery fish called omena — aka the Lake Victoria sardine.

She has her eye on one boat in particular. Like the others, it's made of wood. It's about 30 feet long. And it has a majestic white sail.

"That is the first boat which we started with for No Sex For Fish," she says.

The woman is Justine Adhiambo Obura. She's a big presence — full of energy and righteous indignation — in the village of Nduru Beach, population about 1,000. Wearing bold prints and colors, she strides along the beach as if she owns it.


Don't see the graphic above? Click here.

Justine's life didn't turn out the way she'd hoped. She once dreamed of being a doctor but dropped out of high school after she became pregnant. She has nine children, one of whom has developmental disabilities, and nine grandchildren. She has been a paid community health worker, counseling people who are HIV-positive. She's on the board of the local hospital. She owns some cows, chickens and goats.

Rebecca Fielding-Miller, an assistant professor in the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, who's on the staff of the school's Center on Gender Equity and Health. She does research on transactional sex and HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.

The spectrum is quite broad. In the U.S., she says, it may mean smiling at your boss and "putting up with more nonsense than we want."

But in many places far from the shores of Lake Victoria, it can also mean a sexual encounter.

No Sex For Fish is born

Justine has always been outspoken in her opposition to jaboya. She remembers when she first started selling fish and a young fisherman said to her, "I don't want your money. You are so cute. What I want is just your body. "

She was embarrassed — and infuriated: "I said, 'You are very stupid. How can you tell me that!' "

Justine was eager to see a change. But what kind of change? And how to make it happen?


In her "No Sex For Fish" T-shirt, Justine Adhiambo Obura joins other traders who take fish from the day's catch to sell at the market.

Julia Gunther for NPR
Then came a momentous conversation with Dominik Mucklow, a Peace Corps volunteer stationed near Nduru Beach back in 2010.

Working with a local nonprofit called VIRED, the Victoria Institute for Research on Environment and Development, Mucklow periodically visited Nduru Beach and met the women there. One day, they all began talking about jaboya — how it worked, how much they hated it, how they wanted to stop it.

Mucklow asked if they had any solutions.

And then it came to them: What if they owned their own boats? And hired the fishermen to work for them?

It was a mind-bending proposition.

"You know, our culture does not allow women to have boats," Justine says. They can't even set foot in a boat.

And now the women of Nduru Beach had this brainstorm. "The seed just came from [us]," Justine remembers. "We were like sleeping, and Dominik waked us up!"

The women were excited — but uncertain how to proceed. Mucklow told them he'd come up with a plan to get funds to, as Justine puts it, "empower women to come out from this selling sex for fish."

He was true to his word. He secured a grant from the U.S. government's largest foreign HIV program, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR.

PEPFAR paid for the first round of six boats. A charity called World Connect issued three subsequent grants. All in all, nine villages got boats — around 30 in total. They got nets as well. Another Peace Corps volunteer, Michael Geilhufe, helped provide business training.

The women also got turquoise T-shirts that state their cooperative's name (and raison d'être) in Luo and in English: "NO SEX FOR FISH."

For the women who got boats, the moment was transformational.

Naomy Akoth, a widowed mother of eight, used to practice jaboya to obtain fish to sell. She contracted AIDS from one of her sexual encounters. "I had some suicidal thoughts in my mind," she says. "I thought of taking rat poison and of taking my life away."


Naomy Akoth, a widowed mother of eight, got her own boat through the No Sex For Fish project, but after a couple of years it was grounded. "My heart was broken, and I felt low," says Naomy, who now buys fish that she fries and sells at the market.

Julia Gunther for NPR

Naomy Akoth with some of her children. When her boat was grounded, she says, "I was very discouraged. Because the money I was getting ... I was using to pay for my firstborn's school fees."

Julia Gunther for NPR
Her oldest daughter helped her through this awful time. Then, through No Sex For Fish, Naomy got her own boat.

"I was very, very happy because my life changed," she says. "Even my children were happy because I was owning a boat." She and other members of the cooperative were making more money than before.

There was another benefit as well. Even some women who didn't own boats were freed from jaboya: They could buy fish from the boat-owning women.


Naomy Akoth prepares fish to sell at the market.

Julia Gunther for NPR
One might imagine that the men in the community — the men who own boats and who fish — would not welcome female competition. And there was opposition at first. "No, they didn't like it," Justine says.

But she insists that views have changed: "They are seeing you can put food on the table; you can pay 100 or 200 shillings to put their kids in school. Now they are saying it's good for women to get empowered."

And that's what a number of the men in the village told us.


They said that they are glad the women own boats and that they don't like the idea of women engaging in transactional sex to secure fish. They said that they don't want their mothers, their sisters, their wives or their daughters caught up in this practice.

What's more, more boats mean more jobs for fishermen.

"Justine is a good boss," says one fisherman who works for her. "She encourages you." If a fishing expedition doesn't yield a lot of fish, he says, "she just tells you good luck next time."

But not every man is convinced. Brightone Otien, who's 19, says he worries that "the women will come and take the fish."



Brightone Otien (right) is 19 and a fellow fisherman at Nduru Beach. Brightone says he has been part of the jaboya practice — asking for sex before giving some of his catch to a woman fishmonger.

Julia Gunther for NPR
Meanwhile, he himself admits that he does jaboya — he'll find a quiet place by the beach to have sex with a woman before giving her a supply of fish.

When Justine hears Brightone talking about jaboya, she is not happy. She squares her shoulders and delivers a mini-lecture to the strapping teen: "By having so many sexual partners, he will endanger his life. He's just practicing sex, sex, sex. He will get an infection, and where will his life be?"

Brightone takes it all in and says, "I really congratulate her for the good advice." It is not clear, though, if her words had an impact.


The village of Kusa Beach is another member of the No Sex For Fish cooperative. The people there say that these three boats, funded by grants, were made from low-quality wood and eventually had to be grounded.

Julia Gunther for NPR
On the rocks

In 2019, the No Sex For Fish project has run into obstacles.

There weren't a lot of boats to start with. And over the years, some of them broke down. They sprang leaks. They had to be grounded.

By Justine's estimation, today about six boats are still able to go out on the lake — three of them at Nduru Beach and the remainder at neighboring villages.

Buying a new boat requires cash — the equivalent of about $1,000 for a sailboat and $1,500 for a boat with a motor that could go deeper into the lake, where fish are more plentiful (the motorboat idea came from the women in the cooperative).

Even for a longtime fisherman, that's a lot of money. One fisherman told us he recently had to sell a cow to buy a new boat.



Lorine Abuto has one of the few No Sex For Fish boats that are still functioning in Nduru Beach.

Julia Gunther for NPR
The women whose boats are out of commission do not have the savings or resources to buy new boats. Many of them are widows.

The women who used to earn a living from the fish brought in on their boats now have to cobble together money through other means — selling vegetables they grow, cleaning fish on the beach, relying on a goat or a cow for milk or sending it to slaughter if need be.

When her boat was grounded, Naomy had this reaction: "I was very discouraged. Because the money I was getting from the boat I was using to pay for my firstborn's school fees. And when [the boat] fell apart, my heart was broken, and I felt low."

Rebbeccah Atieno, 35, is another boat owner whose boat was grounded. She's a widow, raising six children. Asked if she thinks she'll get another boat, she says quietly, "I have no hope."


Fishermen on Lake Victoria face many risks in their rudimentary boats, including rough weather, crocodiles and hippos.

Julia Gunther for NPR
What went awry?

How did this project, which held so much promise, come to falter?

There are lots of theories. The women say the initial boats they received were well made. They blame VIRED for the problems — that's the local nonprofit group that administered the money from the first several grants. The women say that VIRED commissioned inferior boats in subsequent years. "Yeah, the timber which was used to make those boats were not quality — in fact the lowest one," says Justine.


Dan Abuto at Nduru Beach. He is a field officer with the Victoria Institute for Research on Environment and Development, which administered the first several grants to build boats for the No Sex For Fish cooperative. Tensions arose between his group and the cooperative.

Julia Gunther for NPR
Dan Abuto, a field officer at VIRED, disagrees. He says the women helped select the wood. And he suspects that they used the boats in ways that put too much strain on their frames, like hauling sand.

But there is a bigger question to ponder: Perhaps giving boats to a small number of women is not the most effective way to stop jaboya and reduce HIV transmission.

The women optimistically claim that the boats did bring down the rates of jaboya. It is hard to imagine otherwise when some of the women boat owners interviewed by NPR said yes, they had done jaboya — but now they've stopped.

But there has been no careful collection of data by an objective source.



Justine Adhiambo Obura in her living room at Nduru Beach. A framed certificate naming her "Inspirational Woman of the Year 2014" hangs on the wall.

Julia Gunther for NPR
Some Kenyan health officials wonder if the various beach councils could come up with a simple solution: Assign each woman fishmonger to a specific boat and require that the boat sell fish to her with no jaboya as part of the transaction, suggests Zachary Kwena of the Kenya Medical Research Institute. He does research on strategies to reduce the rate of HIV.

Such a municipal ruling might be hard to enforce, says Patrick Higdon of World Connect, which issued three of the grants for boats.

As for reducing HIV rates in Kenya's fishing communities, it's not clear how much of an impact a small number of boats can make. Public health programs might be more effective.

For example, just getting people to know their HIV status and take antiretroviral medications if they are HIV-positive could help control the spread of the virus, says Kwena. But there's a lot of stigma around testing. "Some men don't want to know their status," he says.

The Health Ministry is running programs to find ways to promote testing among men. Like offering a reward: "a coupon for something that will be helpful in fishing work," Kwena says. Or a competition where everyone who's tested is eligible to win a reward such as a bicycle, radio or phone. "So people come," he says.

And in some clinics, a patient who comes in for a health problem, like hypertension or malaria, is given an HIV test as a matter of routine.

Meanwhile, no one thinks it'll be easy to convince fishermen that HIV is a looming threat and that the combination of jaboya and unprotected sex puts them at risk. These men go out on a lake where storms swell up and crocodiles lurk and an angry hippo could snap you in two in its jaws. The potential danger of an invisible disease may not seem all that real, says Kwena.

Unafraid to hope

The women of No Sex For Fish are convinced that boats are their way to a better future.


Mark Adede of Nduru Beach keeps careful financial records of profits and expenses for No Sex For Fish.

Julia Gunther for NPR

The No Sex For Fish cooperative in Nduru Beach meets weekly. The group has just submitted a grant to World Connect for 10 more boats.

Julia Gunther for NPR
Justine and another villager, Mark Adede, who keeps all the financial records for the collective, have just submitted a grant asking for funds to buy 10 new boats and nets to keep No Sex For Fish going.

World Connect will consider the new grant application. The charity plans to do on-the-ground research to see what worked and what went wrong with the boats.

If the charity decides to offer another grant, the money will go directly to the No Sex For Fish cooperative, with no middleman like VIRED handling the money. That's the way its third grant was arranged, and it's the way World Connect prefers to work — directly with local people with no intermediaries.

Reflecting on the project's short history, Higdon of World Connect says, "The ups and downs are not at all surprising." Things can seem "very messy" with programs at the local level, he says.

"Whatever happens, we really believe in these women and the work they're doing to help control HIV — and to help women fishmongers be more economically independent," says Higdon. "They've got a really impressive commitment to a difficult problem. It's an uphill climb. And that inspires me — that they felt courageous enough to take that on."


A sample of Mark Adede's No Sex For Fish ledger, tallying sales of fish as well as expenses.

Julia Gunther for NPR
Fielding-Miller, of the Center on Gender Equity and Health, agrees with his assessment. "Ten boats seems minuscule in the short run," she says. But in the long run, the boats are part of a campaign to attack the root causes of the HIV epidemic along Lake Victoria, where the most marginalized women — poor women, single moms, widows — are at the highest risk of infection.

If one woman, as a result of owning a boat, is earning more income and not doing jaboya and has a better life — then "Done! Success! Worth it!" she says.

There are, she says, other potential benefits of No Sex For Fish.

"There are little girls looking at Justine and saying, 'I can do it that way,' " says Fielding-Miller. "That's incredibly important — to have a role model doing something a totally different way. It resonates across generations."

As for Justine, she believes that the project will keep going.

But she was taken aback when we told her that Rebbeccah, whose boat was grounded, says she has "no hope" of getting a new boat.

With a look of frustration and determination, Justine stands tall in the living room of her home. Its mud walls are decorated with lace hangings, photos of family members and a framed certificate declaring her the "Inspirational Woman of the Year 2014" in Kisumu County.

Rebbeccah "must have hope," Justine declares. "When you have hope, you can get."

The proof, to her, is the simple wooden boat she owns with the words "No Sex For Fish" painted on the bow.
 

Farida

Well-Known Member
This is the kind of nonprofit work I can get behind. Empowering locals to improve their lives. Not sending a bunch of rich, white people to live in luxury overseas to work as administrators for a nonprofit...or spending $4,000 per person to send “missionaries” to build wells.
 

intellectualuva

Well-Known Member
This is such a good thing. I would happily buy one of those women a boat today, but I wouldn't want it going through VIRED hands.

I wouldn't be surprised if the field officer or financial guy was skimming and procuring inferior boats. Such a shame. I'd prefer a more direct approach to solving this problem...showing up with boats for 10-20 women and giving them out.
 

chocolat79

Well-Known Member
This is such a good thing. I would happily buy one of those women a boat today, but I wouldn't want it going through VIRED hands.

I wouldn't be surprised if the field officer or financial guy was skimming and procuring inferior boats. Such a shame. I'd prefer a more direct approach to solving this problem...showing up with boats for 10-20 women and giving them out.
ITA!

I wish there was a way to raise funds and make sure the women directly got the money. I'd happily donate.
 

Crackers Phinn

Either A Blessing Or A Lesson.
This is one of the most horrible things I’ve ever read. Just disgusting and awful.
Men will find a way to do dirt bag things no matter what corner of the globe you're in.
Thank you two for putting words to my feelings about this because I was literally like what do you even say to women having to live like this? Some of these half dozen or more children are from having sex for fish. Like that's these babies entrance to the world stories. That's before you even get to the HIV craziness.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The other thing that strikes me is how come people in a fishing community haven't figured our how to make/repair boats or rafts? I see trees in the background. I'm not saying make something fancy just something that can float with you and some fish on it.
 

intellectualuva

Well-Known Member
Thank you two for putting words to my feelings about this because I was literally like what do you even say to women having to live like this? Some of these half dozen or more children are from having sex for fish. Like that's these babies entrance to the world stories. That's before you even get to the HIV craziness.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The other thing that strikes me is how come people in a fishing community haven't figured our how to make/repair boats or rafts? I see trees in the background. I'm not saying make something fancy just something that can float with you and some fish on it.

Is it a matter of know how or the men who know wont do it without pervy compensation, so the donated boats just sit. I don't know...that was my assumption, but good question though.
 
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Chicoro

From Shea Butter Hater to Shea Butter Caker!
upload_2020-1-6_23-5-42.jpeg

I wonder how much something like this would cost?
How could private investors, such as the LHCF Equity Fund, circumvent the perverts, greased palms and the peens and get some high quality boats to these women without somebody, skimming, scheming or stealing?
 

Kanky

Well-Known Member
Thank you two for putting words to my feelings about this because I was literally like what do you even say to women having to live like this? Some of these half dozen or more children are from having sex for fish. Like that's these babies entrance to the world stories. That's before you even get to the HIV craziness.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The other thing that strikes me is how come people in a fishing community haven't figured our how to make/repair boats or rafts? I see trees in the background. I'm not saying make something fancy just something that can float with you and some fish on it.
Boat building skills would certainly help. I’m guessing that they used to know how to build boats and then people started buying motor boats and the skills were lost. If I had to build a boat I’d probably struggle even with my garage full of dad’s power tools, YouTube tutorials and Home Depot. These women don’t have any of that and it’s not like the coast guard is going to come save them if they mess up. The sex for fish men would probably be happy if they drowned.

This story is so disturbing to me. I keep coming back to it and feeling angry and sad. Men are so awful to vulnerable women.
 

Crackers Phinn

Either A Blessing Or A Lesson.
Boat building skills would certainly help. I’m guessing that they used to know how to build boats and then people started buying motor boats and the skills were lost. If I had to build a boat I’d probably struggle even with my garage full of dad’s power tools, YouTube tutorials and Home Depot. These women don’t have any of that and it’s not like the coast guard is going to come save them if they mess up. The sex for fish men would probably be happy if they drowned.

This story is so disturbing to me. I keep coming back to it and feeling angry and sad. Men are so awful to vulnerable women.
I too would struggle to make a boat but I’m also not from a place where fishing seems to have been the primary way to support families for generations. Also, when you have 8 or nine kids, that’s a whole lot of free boat making labor.

I don't blame these women for their situation. Their men are :censored: trash. I do think they gotta figure some things out because the sex for fish thing is literally killing them with HIV and ushers in another generation of girls that will be victims of the same practice. The other side of the equation is that black women worldwide can send in the free boat calvary but if the women can't maintain the boats which will inevitably need to be fixed or replaced then everybody is back to square one like they are in the update to the story.
 

IslandMummy

Well-Known Member
I too would struggle to make a boat but I’m also not from a place where fishing seems to have been the primary way to support families for generations. Also, when you have 8 or nine kids, that’s a whole lot of free boat making labor.

I don't blame these women for their situation. Their men are :censored: trash. I do think they gotta figure some things out because the sex for fish thing is literally killing them with HIV and ushers in another generation of girls that will be victims of the same practice. The other side of the equation is that black women worldwide can send in the free boat calvary but if the women can't maintain the boats which will inevitably need to be fixed or replaced then everybody is back to square one like they are in the update to the story.
A large part of the problem is access and education. It’s easy for us to say do X but all these generations worth of fishing may have been only available to men. These women may operate on an elementary level education with low reasoning skills and low logical thinking skills. Education is a huge problem because parents will pull girls out of school first, then the ones who do get to go to school are out for up to week because they start seeing their cycles.

Then they’re pushed into sexual assault at young ages by grown men and the cycle starts all over again.
 

Crackers Phinn

Either A Blessing Or A Lesson.
A large part of the problem is access and education. It’s easy for us to say do X buy all these generations worth of fishing may have been only available to men. These women may operate on an elementary level education level with low reasoning skills and low logical thinking skills. Education is a huge problem because parents will pull girls out of school first, then the ones who do get to go to school are out for up to week because they start seeing their cycles.

Then they pushed into sexual assault at young ages by grown men and the cycle starts all over again.

I agree about access and sexism but less so about education and definitely not the bolded. When they got boats the women knew what to do with them and how to catch and transport fish (which is more than I can say about myself) while cutting the men out of the profit equation so these women know a lil something about something.

I do want to re-iterate that I'm not saying I expect people to be able to build high tech, pimped out situations but the first pic is basic boat technology. It ain't comfortable or ideal but neither is catching HIV or trying to feed 9 babies by trading sex for fish.



And creative broke people on the other side of the continent are using recycled garbage to make fishing boats.
 
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NijaG

Well-Known Member
Majority of those women may not know how to swim. The modern boats are wider and generally safer, can fit more than one person.

Yeah.... women focused workshops on how to fix common boat issues and maybe how to build the simpler boats of the past would be very helpful.
 

Kanky

Well-Known Member
I agree about access and sexism but less so about education and definitely not the bolded. When they got boats the women knew what to do with them and how to catch and transport fish (which is more than I can say about myself) while cutting the men out of the profit equation so these women know a lil something about something.

I do want to re-iterate that I'm not saying I expect people to be able to build high tech, pimped out situations but the first pic is basic boat technology. It ain't comfortable or ideal but neither is catching HIV or trying to feed 9 babies by trading sex for fish.




And creative broke people on the other side of the continent are using recycled garbage to make fishing boats.

Ok, they could definitely do this.

I saw a plastic bottle boat tutorial when I was googling yesterday and then went and took the Gatorade bottles out of the recycling bin. :lol: I am going to let my kids make one and try it in the pool this summer.
 

Kanky

Well-Known Member
I wonder if a pier would help? If someone built one that they could fish from then the boat problem would be solved indefinitely. Or would the nasty men just block the thing and then tell them sex for pier access?
 

Leeda.the.Paladin

Well-Known Member
Ok, they could definitely do this.

I saw a plastic bottle boat tutorial when I was googling yesterday and then went and took the Gatorade bottles out of the recycling bin. :lol: I am going to let my kids make one and try it in the pool this summer.
That is a darn good idea! :lol:
 

kimpaur

Well-Known Member
This is such a powerful story. It is exactly why I embrace feminism. Not the "women-must-be treated-like-men" variety, but the variety that places ending the oppression of women at its forefront.

I cannot begin to imagine having to trade my body for FISH-and at the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.

It would have been nice if the article included a way to donate to these women directly.
 

Leeda.the.Paladin

Well-Known Member
I can’t really say that they should be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and be able to find a solution amongst themselves. It’s easy for us, where we are appalled by the very idea of trading sex for food, to say what they SHOULD do, so I’m hesitant to even think such things. To me, it’s kind of like how Americans say that all of those people fleeing war torn countries just need to stay there like the colonists did and fix the problem. It’s not the same thing for these women and I dont think it’s as easy.
 

Crackers Phinn

Either A Blessing Or A Lesson.
I can’t really say that they should be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and be able to find a solution amongst themselves. It’s easy for us, where we are appalled by the very idea of trading sex for food, to say what they SHOULD do, so I’m hesitant to even think such things. To me, it’s kind of like how Americans say that all of those people fleeing war torn countries just need to stay there like the colonists did and fix the problem. It’s not the same thing for these women and I dont think it’s as easy.
This begs the question, who is going to fix their problem for them? Their men don't care and the agency's that did try to help are being accused of corruption which leaves them back to square one of having to trade sex for fish.
 

awhyley

Well-Known Member
This begs the question, who is going to fix their problem for them?

This really isn't related to the story, but since it's in Kenya and about women pooling together to make a better life, I wanted to drop it here.

Meet the Kenyan Women Group Which Pooled Their Cash to Build a 5-Storey Apartment

"It is widely said that iron sharpens iron. This can said and agreed on a Kenyan women group who pooled their cash to put up an apartment with at least 100 rooms and are now landlords.

This group from Kenya simply rewrote what has been the norm with most, or a good number, of saving groups and tread a new path that many have termed as “uncarted territories” as far as women groups across the continent are concerned.

The Murang’a County Women SACCO, as the cooperative group is known, basically decided not to tow the line and do the unusual. In most cases, such groups are related with making some small contributions to enhance the welfare of its members. It is with such small contributions that this Kenyan women group managed to pool together towards accomplishing a big project that would have been, in the eyes of many, unbelievable.

Last year, the Kenyan women group unveiled a students’ apartment block fully built from scratch by their own contributions, something which set a tone in their investment ventures.

The women are credited for raising almost $1 million that completed the 102-rooms apartment even though their daily contributions per person were as little as $0.1, in some instances. According to the women, they basically leveraged on their numbers to make sure that they did not lose sight off they target of becoming landlords.

Instead of sharing the contributions, this Kenyan women group opted to deny themselves and bought a land, and did the 5-storey apartment with more than 100 rooms which will be hosting students from the neighboring colleges and universities. This, however, didn’t come easily especially with lots of social and cultural difficulties that literally threatened to stall the project at many instances.

One member of the group, Grace Ndegwa who lost her husband back in 2003 and a mother of two struggled through but can now saw the fruits of her toil the day the project was officially opened. Her aspirations were, all through, to someday start a good business that would help bring up her family. Now, she is a proud co-owner of the property in question.

The now six-years-old Kenyan women group is also funding founded and run by women within the community.

The completion of the project marked the opening of other opportunities as the women can now venture into other investments backed up with improved credit worthiness that can afford them even better and bigger financing from banks as well as Credit Cooperative Organizations, commonly referred to in Kenya as SACCOs.

The group seemed to have done their homework right buying land in a potential area that is populated with university students. Indicators from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics show that by last year, the number of students enrolling in in Kenyan public and private tertiary institutions, which basically forms the primary target of the Kenyan women group in their investments, had shot up from 78.2% to 107.6%.

According to the women in the group, they are not resting any time soon with the achievement. Their eyes are still on the ball, looking forward to purchase another 2,000 acres of land from the proceeds that will be generated from the project they have already accomplished.

The group has also benefited from a Kenyan government’s directive that at least 30 percent of all tenders be given to women, the youth and people living with disabilities. This group, for instance, is said to have managed a tender to rehabilitate a road in their locality, a project which gave them some cool $300,000. This tender saw the women doing jobs like clearing bushes, concrete mixing and trench digging to mention a few.

The Kenyan women group is typically an excellent example of what great entrepreneurial minds can do when they come together
."

Africa Global News Publication.

Link: https://africaglobalnews.com/a-keny...7W1wOciFcIX-cItF5ZmxQvnHU80FmK7E_VEMh4lNKYPZ4
 

Crackers Phinn

Either A Blessing Or A Lesson.
10 months later Update
:censored:

Life Was Improving For 'No Sex For Fish.' Then Came The Flood​

By MARC SILVER NOV 1, 2020

It is 7 a.m. on a chilly morning in September.

Alice Akinyi Amonde is standing on a beach along the Kenyan shores of Lake Victoria. She makes her living by selling fish, and she's waiting for her boat to come in from a night on the lake so she can take the fisherman's catch, clean it and sell it in a nearby village.


When things were going well in her village of Nduru Beach, she'd earn about $50 a day. Now she is lucky if she makes $3 a day.

On a busy morning in November 2019, Alice Amonde stood on the boat she owns, inspecting the day's catch.
JULIA GUNTHER FOR NPR

The reason for this downturn: In March, after prolonged heavy rains, Nduru Beach, population roughly 1,000, was literally submerged in water. The homes, typically constructed with sturdy and thick mud walls and metal roofs, were damaged and destroyed. Flood waters carried away the villagers' cows, chickens and other farm animals.

No deaths were reported among the residents, who fled inland. Some have found alternate housing or are staying with family or friends. Others live in crowded makeshift quarters on the grounds of a local church and in schoolrooms. They depend on aid and the charity of neighbors for basic needs such as food.

Even now, months later, many houses are submerged in five feet of water. Amonde is one of the very few who have returned, hoping to earn some money again in the fish trade. The fishing boat she owns survived the flooding.
She and her children are squatting in a rusty abandoned building next to the flooded beach.

No Sex For Fish
Last year, a team from NPR met Alice Amonde when we traveled to Kenya to do a story about a revolutionary program called No Sex For Fish.

In her village, and others along the lake, men do the fishing and women sell the catch. In the 1970s, a new practice arose that the women hated.

When fishing boats would land at Nduru Beach, there was a bustle of activity. This photo was taken in November 2019. The landing area of the beach is now under water because of flooding from Lake Victoria.
JULIA GUNTHER FOR NPR

The population of fish in the lake began to diminish because of overfishing and environmental problems — sewage and agricultural runoff, for example. So the men began saying: Give me sex, and I'll make sure you get fish to sell. Many women felt they had no alternatives even if it meant they could be infected with HIV. "I exchange sex, I get fish," Milka Onyango told us. The 40-year-old mother of six said, "I don't care about getting HIV. Me, I need fish. I need earning to sustain my family."

Milka Onyango stands on the fishing nets strewn across Nduru Beach in November 2019.
JULIA GUNTHER FOR NPR

The women in Nduru Beach came up with a bold idea: What if women owned the boats? What if there was ... "no sex for fish."

With the initial help of a Peace Corps volunteer, the women got grants from USAID and later from the charity World Connect to buy their own boats. They hired men to fish for them. They flipped the power dynamic. Early on, a With a series of grants, the No Sex For Fish program got about 30 boats and gave them to women, including Amonde. The women hired men to do the fishing for them. It was an unprecedented flip of the power dynamic. Suddenly, women were in charge. They earned a good income. They told us how happy and proud they were.

On a sunny Sunday during our visit in November 2019, we visited Amonde in her well-kept home. Sitting on a comfy couch, we shared a meal of fried, fresh-caught fish and homemade bread while a kitten played at our feet.
Now the lake has risen so high that she can only see the roof of her home.

Alice Amonde's house in November 2019, before the flooding of Nduru Beach. Now only the roof is above water.
JULIA GUNTHER FOR NPR

The walls of other homes are above water but cracked, rendering them uninhabitable. And the No Sex For Fish program has been devastated by the flooding and its aftermath.

Thick invasive water hyacinth weeds, washed ashore by the swollen lake, surround the homes and fishing boats. Some of the boats are so entangled they cannot be used. And when fishermen do go out they blame the tangle of weeds in the lake itself for the poor catch — they say they're not able to row out to breeding sites where they can net hundreds of fish.

"The swelling of the lake has totally destroyed our lives," she says. "There are no chances of going back to my home," she says. "You cannot even know that my home stood there." The reasons for this catastrophic flooding are up for debate. Researchers caution that one season of heavy and prolonged rains would not likely cause such a dramatic water level rise. Reports are that earlier flooding along the beaches of Lake Victoria, in September 2019, was triggered by the closing of an outlet on the Nile River in Uganda. Christopher Aura, a scientist with the Kenya Maritime Fisheries Institute, has his own theory: "The waters of Lake Victoria are swelling as a result of climate change." But more research is needed.

Flipping the power dynamic
Even before the catastrophic flooding, the collective No Sex For Fish had problems to address. Many of their wooden boats were no longer fit to go out on the lake. It costs about $1,000 for a new boat propelled by oars, $1,500 for a sailboat. Those sums were beyond the reach of the women.
So the collective was preparing a new grant for money to repair and replace their vessels. Justine Adhiambo Obura, a leader of the collective, was optimistic: "When you have hope, you can get."

Now, however, her mood – and the mood of her peers – is far different.
"My lovely house is gone," Obura says. "I have nothing."
Like Justine Adhiambo Obura, Naomy Akoth, a mother of four, is struggling to pick up the pieces.
Akoth got her own boat through No Sex For Fish. "I was very, very happy because my life changed," she says.

Naomy Akoth sits in her house.
JULIA GUNTHER FOR NPR

She also owned a small boarding house along the shore where itinerant fishermen stayed. It's among the buildings destroyed by the floods.

"I am just surviving by the grace of God. The floods destroyed my source of living and destroyed me completely. I am currently staying with my children in a classroom and rely only on well-wishers for food," she says as she prepares breakfast for her children – their first meal since lunch the day before

"I was very scared especially for my four children. I guessed it was a matter of time before my home could be affected by the waters. Every day the waters kept rising and it was worsened by heavy rains which also brought flash floods," says Akoth.

The floods have washed away other means of supporting a family in Nduru Beach. Cheryl Awuor depended on her livestock for income.

"My goats died. They were swept away by the floods. I am still heartbroken, I had hopes of making a good life from them," says Awuor.

Cheryl Awuor stands by her house with sons Rolines (left) and Brian (right) in November 2019. Awuor is part of a community banking group: Members give money each week into a collective pot, take out loans in times of need and are occasionaly given a bonus: a goat (hers is pictured above). She hoped raising goats would help sustain her family but the flooding carried her livestock away.
JULIA GUNTHER FOR NPR

A widow who has 3 children, Awuor now shares temporary classroom quarters with Akoth and two other families.

What next?
The fishing trade that sustained many of the families of Nduru Beach (and other fishing villages) has collapsed. The women from No Sex For Fish worry that even if fishing were to become possible again, the practice of trading sex for fish would re-emerge due to the difficulty of catching fish in the weed-clogged lake.

So the refugees from Nduru Beach live in limbo. The women interviewed by NPR in September 2020 say the government has not provided support or assistance. "The only people who have been helping those who were displaced are businessmen and a few politicians," says Cheryl Awuor.

But the government says there is a limit to what it will do. "Victims of such circumstances should know that when such tragedies occur, the government only assists to save lives and not to make life comfortable for them," is what Ruth Odinga, Kisumu County director of special programs, told NPR.

According to Odinga, the victims were warned in advance to move to higher grounds but some families did not heed the warnings – although several of the women interviewed by NPR dispute this. "No, we did not receive any warnings," says Naomy Akuth. "The region has been prone to floods the last couple of years but this year it was worse."
Patrick Higdon, who administered earlier grants to No Sex For Fish from the charity World Connect, sent a field agent to Nduru Beach this fall to assess the situation.

The women told the agent they very much want to go back and pick up their fishing trade. But they need financial support to do so, they said. And they worry that more flooding is in the future.

So they are trying to think of other ways to earn their living. If fishing isn't in the near future, the Nduru Beach refugees wonder about a dairy goats project — or growing rice on the flooded terrain.

There are "many hurdles to jump," says Higdon. But "the ideas and energy are there as ever." As is the hope for better days to come.

"I am still hopeful that fate will change for us," says Akoth, the mother of four. "The damage that we have received is immense and it will take us time to resume our normal trade. I am hoping that the water levels will reduce so that I can pick up my life again."
The NPR story about 'No Sex For Fish' from December 2019 won a Sigma Delta Chi award for online reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists. Let us know what you think of this follow-up story. Email [email protected] with your feedback and ideas, with the subject line "Nduru Beach."
 

nysister

Well-Known Member
View attachment 454529

I wonder how much something like this would cost?
How could private investors, such as the LHCF Equity Fund, circumvent the perverts, greased palms and the peens and get some high quality boats to these women without somebody, skimming, scheming or stealing?
ETA: Wow. I just read the updates. Perhaps we can still find a way to donate so that they can move elsewhere and perhaps start a farming cooperative.

Are there any members in an area of the world no far away? We could send them to the village with the resources. If not, perhaps one of us can make contact with someone there and go ourselves.

I understand VIRED has their own agenda but they might not object to giving us names of some of the women directly.

Perhaps the author, Julia had a connection.
 
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