After years of livestock losses from droughts and multiple crises, fish have become a lifeline source of food for nutrition and income for coastal communities. The coasts sandy soils are not suitable for crops, and fishing and livestock are the main livelihoods. Much of the Somali coastline is likely to face acute food insecurity between April and June 2021, with long stretches in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) or above, according to the latest technical release by FAO Somalia’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU). To help coastal communities increase their skills and boost incomes in the fisheries sector, FAO launched the project “Protecting, Improving and Sustaining Food Security in Rural Somalia” in January 2020. Since the project launch, three Coastal Fishers Schools (CFS) have been created in the villages of Zeylac, Lawyo Ado and Toqoshi within Zeylac District, Somalia.

“Our vulnerable coastal communities required projects like this, because before the project they didn’t have any technical skills to repair and maintain their damaged vessels, so the only option that they had was to carry their vessels to Djibouti for maintenance. But today they learned technical skills,” said Yurub Abiib Abdi, Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Livestock Development in Somaliland.

Through the project, a number of trainings have taken place with a focus on boating and fish handling to increase food production and enhance skills. Such trainings included fishing techniques and technology, boat maintenance and boat monitoring, data training on handling and processing fish, from fish storage to inspection and transporting. The training also provided tools to support coastal communities with enhanced technology and skills. Some of the inputs that the project provided to participants included: (i) ten solar chest refrigerators, co-shared in groups to reach 40 households and (ii) ten packages of boat and engine repair kits, co-shared by groups of three reaching 30 households.

On 25 February, a graduation ceremony took place for 70 fishermen and women who graduated from the CFS with enriched technology and skills. The recent graduates spent four months of training learning practical and theoretical knowledge to enhance their fishing capacities and strengthen their food security and resilience in the presence of crises and shocks. There continues to be an urgent need and enormous opportunity to equip fisherfolk and households with the tools they need to utilize the available resources from the coastal waters.

“I learned a lot of things from the programme such as how to repair fiberglass boats and they gave us the tools to repair. It will firstly help us as a community to see that we can do something,” said fisherman Abdisalam Adam Hussein from Lowyacado Village in Zeylac District.