Title: Understanding rural livelihoods supported by capture fisheries at the Mara Wetlands Tanzania

Author: Felix Ouko Akumu

Supervising Institution: IHE Delft  - Institute for Water Education

Year: 2023



Capture fisheries are among the vital ecosystem services supplied by Tanzania's wetland ecosystems, which contribute significantly to the economic growth and wellbeing of adjacent communities whose livelihoods are dependent on fishery resources. The main objective of the study was to examine the contribution of capture fisheries to rural livelihoods of fish- dependent communities at the Mara Wetlands, Tanzania through value chain and market analysis.Socioeconomic assessment of the fishermen and women traders, fish composition and distribution, fish landing price determination, production and marketing restrictions, market dynamics, and a gender analysis of the value chain were conducted in the six (6) fishing villages of Kinesi, Nyabange, Buswahili, Weigita, and Iseresere and Wegero. On a stratified basis, eighty (80) respondents were surveyed. Data was collected using questionnaires, field observations, and informal discussions. Descriptive analysis included frequency distribution graphs, charts, and tables using the SPSS software version 19.0 and Microsoft Excel 2015. Results revealed that the majority (55%) of fisherfolks at the Mara fish value chain were between the ages of 36 and 45 years old and had attained basic primary education (93.7%) with no formal training or skills. The majority (54.3%) of interviewed fishermen and 66.6% of female fish traders reported a monthly income of 20,000 to 50,000 Tanzanian shillings from their respective fishing activities. Nonetheless, greater proportions of fisherman (45.7%) than female merchants (23.5%) reported household earnings greater than TZS 50,000. Besides fishing, agricultural farming and value chains were the main alternative income generating activities for most respondents (81.25%). Seven (7) species of fish were identified: Haplochromine cichlids, Propterus aesthiopicus, Clarias gariepinus, Oreochromis niloticus, Lakes niloticus, Synodontis victoriae, and Schilbe mystus. The dominant species in the middle and upper Mara segments were Clarias gariepinus and Propterus aesthiopicus, while Lates niloticus and Oreochromis niloticus dominated in the lower Mara. Fish landing price among fishermen primarily determined by fishing experience, negotiation with local traders, and quantity and quality of fish Further, the results established that fresh fish is the most common type in the markets. Lack of finance, inadequate infrastructure facilities, and dwindling fish stocks were acknowledged as the main barriers to the expansion of the wetlands' fishery value chain. Moreover, women fishmongers dominated all fish markets and were primarily involved in fish processing, transportation and trade whereas men were predominantly engaged in fish pre-harvest and harvesting. The study concluded that capture fisheries are vital to the livelihoods of local inhabitants, however, dwindling fish stocks pose a threat to the sustainability of fisheries-based livelihoods in the study area. Based on the findings, the study recommends the development and promotion of alternative sources of livelihood among fisherfolks to boost household income and socioeconomic status, formation of women-led cooperatives to increase access to finance, and the delimitation of ecologically sensitive fish breeding sites for fish species that would promote the natural recovery of fish populations at the Mara Wetlands.

Key words: Livelihoods, market, socioeconomic, wetlands and fish