With the invaluable support of  GIZ Responsible Fisheries Business Chains Project, KWDT has successfully trained a cohort of over 2,085 fishers and fish workers hailing from 15 districts encompassing Lake Victoria and an additional district adjacent to Lake Albert. An impressive 56% of these participants were women. The training centered on the profound principles encapsulated within the “Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries.” KWDT’s approach involved active engagement with the participants, urging them to discern actionable steps within their capacities for effective implementation. This endeavor not only empowered them to contribute meaningfully to the realization of the SSF Guideline but also coincided aptly with the observance of the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA).

The “Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication” (SSF Guidelines) mark an epochal milestone as the inaugural international instrument exclusively dedicated to the realm of small-scale fisheries. These guidelines epitomize a worldwide consensus on the fundamental principles and sagacious guidance governing the management and development of small-scale fisheries. The genesis of these guidelines was a collaborative effort involving representatives from small-scale fisheries organizations. The participatory process, conducted between 2011 and 2013, engaged more than 4000 stakeholders. This cooperative initiative, spearheaded by FAO and mandated by COFI, is oriented towards individuals and entities within the sector. The objective is to serve as a compass, steering governments, fishing communities, and stakeholders towards a collective endeavor to ensure the viability of secure and sustainable small-scale fisheries. This endeavor not only benefits small-scale fishers, fish workers, and their communities but reverberates to encompass the broader societal fabric.

These guidelines are artfully intertwined with existing international instruments such as the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the VG Tenure, and the Right to Food Guidelines. Rooted in a human rights framework, the SSF Guidelines emerge as a pivotal instrument for amplifying the agency of small-scale fishing communities, including those often marginalized and vulnerable. The guidelines foster active participation in decision-making processes and impel a sense of responsibility towards the sustainable stewardship of fisheries resources (FAO, 2015).

The 37th grassroots session of the SSF Guidelines convened in August 2022 at Lwabalega landing site in Kalangala yielded a pivotal revelation. In the backdrop of tumultuous waves, the imperative of fostering awareness concerning safety on the lake, as delineated by the Guidelines, surfaced resoundingly. The community successfully established the nexus connecting lake safety and the tenets of sustainable fisheries, deciphering how one influences the other.

Local initiatives garnered momentum as they sought to bolster access to capital for investments within the fisheries sector through organizational efforts. Amid these strategies, a conspicuous call resonated for the training of women in leadership roles, fostering their active involvement in fisheries governance. Concurrently, the pursuit of expanded access to rudimentary social amenities within fishing communities and the overarching advocacy for the safeguarding of human rights, especially during the enforcement of legal fisheries, emerged as key pursuits.

The insightful query posed during the SSF guidelines training conducted by KWDT at Bugula landing site in Mukono encapsulates a sentiment shared by many:

“If the SSF guidelines were endorsed in 2014, why are we only hearing about them now?”

This question underscores the importance of awareness dissemination, a mission that KWDT has ardently undertaken to bridge this knowledge gap.