Operating in the three central provinces of Laos – Bolikhamxay, Khammouane and Savannakhet – Community Fisheries is based right in the heart of the community. Seeking to strengthen local authorities’ and villagers’ ability to sustainably manage their freshwater resources, the project has the potential to improve the lives of up to 72,000 people, including 30,000 women, in 80 villages.
To do this, WWF-Laos and Oxfam Novib are working to establish freshwater protected areas, known as Fish Conservation Zones (FCZs), and carry out research and monitoring of biodiversity within them.
While the establishment of FCZs contributes to the replenishing of natural fish stocks, it’s also necessary to reduce their daily harvesting. One way of doing this is to develop opportunities to generate food and income outside of fishing. This includes the development of small hatcheries, technical agricultural training, and promotion of practical activities such as rice-fish culture, a novel way of using paddy fields to seasonally harvest fish.
To improve villagers’ understanding of freshwater conservation and fisheries management, posters and booklets are produced to develop awareness at village level.
So too women are seen as central to the success of Community Fisheries. A significant portion of the work goes towards ensuring equitable participation and decision-making, while there is a strong focus on supporting their livelihoods.