Fiza Qureshi’s book ‘Women in Water’ has been published recently. It focuses on the alternative livelihood options for fisherwomen living in district Badin. It is the result of a study conducted with financial support from Oxfam in Pakistan.
In 2015, Oxfam Novib with its IP Indus Consortium implemented a short term (six month) project under the title “ Women Entrepreneurship through Private Sector Engagement” (WEPSE) with 25 fisher women in two union councils i.e., Ahmed Rajo and Bughra Memon of district Badin, Sindh.
The purpose of the pilot project was to enhance the livelihood of fishing community by reviving the role of women in fishing sector through aqua culture as an alternate livelihood source.
As the household chores and care of elderly and children are considered as main and most of the time sole responsibilities of women socially and culturally since centuries. Thus due to such social structure, fisher women are unable to play their vital active role in catching or harvesting of fish, especially in the countries like Pakistan, where women are socially and culturally preferred to confine to the limited boundaries and roles defined by the family system. It termed as “Chaardewari” i.e., four walls of the house.In such conditions, aqua culture is a most suitable alternative livelihood source for them. It boosts their income while staying at home and fulfilling all their household responsibilities on one hand and revive their active role in the fishing sector on the other. This study was conducted in 2018-19 and served as an impact assessment of the successful pilot project of WEPSE.
Under pilot project, 14 small ponds (8 water ponds for individual beneficiaries having size of 40×40 & depth 5 ft. and 6 community ( in partnership of two or more women) ponds having size of 40×80 & depth 5ft.) were constructed and handed over to 25 fisher women on specific agreed terms and conditions. The project also gave the initial financial support for buying crab and fish seed and install water pump machines. The beneficiaries were trained for Business Development, Management and Entrepreneurship skills. They were also facilitated to develop their market linkages and register their corporation.
The end line survey of the project revealed that an average of PKR. 12000 investment in seed gave them the net profit of PKR.12000 to 14000 per cycle of 1.5 to 2 months.
In this research study, the sample of 25 women beneficiaries of the pilot project has taken as beneficiaries group, whereas 25 women from the same villages which were not the beneficiaries of the pilot project are taken as the control group, in order to understand the level of impact and assess the difference. In-depth interviews were conducted with the beneficiaries and the control group through structured questionnaire. FGDs were conducted with the community male members, who have supported the women beneficiaries in the whole process, mainly in arranging crab or fish seed, market linkages and technical support in catching and harvesting the crab and fish as well as cleaning the ponds.
The study revealed the huge difference among the financial conditions of beneficiaries group and the control group. In the period of three years, the life style of the beneficiary group has changed tremendously. Now they are in the position to lend the money to other women for starting their business. Now their households are considered as well off and their children have started getting education.
Though women are playing their role in agricultural activities like sowing and harvesting and working as labor on the fields. They played their vital role in rearing livestock and poultry farming. They are contributing in HH income through small shops and handicraft. But 100 % beneficiaries as well as control group women are of the opinion that the successful alternate livelihood source for fisher women in fish and crab farming because this is the skill they have learnt by birth on one hand and it has lucrative return on the other.
Research has also revealed that per annum income from fish/ crab pond is far more than the agriculture. If the net profit in fish/ crab farming is PKR. 50,000 then in agriculture it is PKR. 20,000, except those cases who have bigger lands.
Furthermore, due to water shortage the agriculture is almost ruined in the area. Thus inhabitants are looking for alternative livelihood and the aqua culture is the best option. This study is giving the sound footing for the Fisheries Department to implement this project on larger scale by minimizing any negative impacts of aqua culture on the soil through modern technologies and maximizing its positive socio- economic impacts on fishing community , marginalized fisher women and overall the country’s economy.
The book can be downloaded here: Women in Water
About the Author:
Fiza Qureshi belongs to the coastal district of Thatta, Sindh. She has done her MPhil in International Development Studies from Iqra University, Islamabad with Masters in Law, Sociology, Sindhi Literature and Business Administration. She is the Fellow of Cohort 18 on Transboundary Water Resources under Leadership Development Program (LDP) by LEAD Pakistan. Fiza is an alumnus of the Wilton Park’s conference (UK) on Reducing Poverty: The Roles of Parliaments, Government and Non-State Actors.
She has 16 years’ experience in the Development sector. She is known for her work on Environment, Water Rights, Women Rights, Child Rights and Tax Justice. It is her achievement to create 75 sustainable women enterprises of agriculture and fishing communities of Badin, Sindh and Rajanpur, Punjab and facilitated 30 young entrepreneurs of Multan and Muzaffargarh to launch their business startups. She has worked with tail end farmers alliances’ of Sindh and Punjab and supported them to claim their due water share after a decade in Badin at Akram Wah, which is a success story.
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