Fish farming brings resilience to flood prone regions

For the one million people in the Barotse Sub-Basin in western Zambia whose livelihoods depend on agriculture, the environmental consequences of climate change can be devastating. Increased flooding continues to destroy major crops that were historically available year-round, undermining the prospects of entire communities.

But efforts are underway to improve the resilience of farming communities in this area. The Climate Investment Funds (CIF), through its Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR) and with help from the World Bank, is funding Strengthening Climate Resilience in the Barotse Sub-Basin, a US$36 million project designed to enhance capacity building and improve institutional structures.

The project includes gender as an investment criterion, targeting women with specialized support. As part of this effort, an all women cooperative on Mbeta Island in Zambia’s Sioma District has launched a fish farm with the potential to feed the community and strengthen livelihoods for generations to come. The group already has two fish cages in a natural lagoon created by the Zambezi River.

“This project is helping us improve our standard of living and become more food secure,” said NaMakando Nyambe, manager of the fish farm.

In Mongu District, an 8-hour drive from Lusaka, Zambia’s capital, almost 60 percent of the population are considered extremely vulnerable, on average living on less than 83 cents a day. Increased and more frequent climate impacts are exacerbating poverty levels and economic decline.

To help reverse this trend, CIF is supporting the creation of more sustainable livelihoods with a fish farm project targeting 25,800 households, about 32 percent of them headed by women. The project is helping families diversify further by introducing small livestock and planting a variety of vegetables to ensure a steady food supply throughout the year.

In each project area, the provincial government assigns a fisheries assistant to provide technical support to the community and ongoing capacity building. The assistant reports to a district fisheries officer, who is responsible for ensuring that CIF funding benefits the community and helps it achieve its goals.

Nasilele Silishebo, who is the Sioma District fisheries officer said, “Since 2015, we have been able to fund three projects through CIF, including integrated fish farming, so instead of just fish farming, communities also benefit from integrating pig farming.”

As livelihoods closely linked to traditional farming continue to suffer because of increased temperatures and reduced rainfall, diversification strategies such as those introduced by CIF in Zambia can help buffer local communities from the full impact of climate change.


Strengthen institutional structures for resilience

More resilient canals for flood prone seasons

Increased income and independence for women

Diversifies agricultural efforts, cultivating mushrooms, fish and pigs

Improved nutrition and protein intakes

Government leveraged project to receive Green Climate Fund support

Barotse Zambia

  • 25,000

    households of beneficiaries
  • 5

    canals strengthened
  • 24

    wards supported for climate resilient planning
  • 8

    districts supported
  • 50

    % of funding targeted for socially vulnerable groups
  • 32

    % of beneficiaries women-headed households
  • 10,000

    fish initially provided

“This project is helping us improve our standard of living and become more food secure.”

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