(ERGO) – With 30 years fishing experience, Qali Sahal Mire, 45, has been at the forefront of changing the lives of poor women in Warsheikh, a town 60 km north of the Somali capital Mogadishu.
Before the day breaks, Qali leaves her home for the beach to meets her 15 female students for their training course in the deep Indian Ocean.
For the last one and half years, she has been training her fellow hometown women on fishing, navigating, boat repair and maintenance, processing fish meat into dried fish products, among other skills.
In early 2017, Qali gathered 10 women including single mothers and others from poor families for the first training on fishing skills.
“I captain my own fishing boat. I teach them controlling the boat, diving, netting and pulling their catch out of the sea,” she told Radio Ergo. “So far I have trained 10 women who are now involved in fishing. Some are helped by their husbands and relatives during fishing for safety.”
Amina Nur Ahmed, a single mother with three children, has been struggling to feed her children after the father left for Mogadishu and ceased any support. Now, her life has significantly changed thanks to the skills she learnt during her fishing training in 2017.
“I wear a pair of trousers, a jacket and a hat. I leave my home early in the morning for fishing. I come back at around 11 am, with 15 to 20 kg of fish,” said Amina proudly. “I sell the fish at $5 to 8 which is enough for my family’s daily consumption. I also come with some fish for my family and neighbours.”
Amina, now an expert in fishing, said she no longer needs the support of the father of her children, who is quarry worker in Mogadishu.
“Previously, I used to call the father of my children frequently. He sometimes used to send small money but for some months he did not. So now ever since I joined fishing I am capable of feeding my family alone,” she said.
Abdirahman Mohamed Sasan, who owns a boat, helps one of the women trained by Qali by giving her experience in fishing with him.
“I have been involved in fishing for 10 years now and this is the first time I am seeing women fishing with us. They catch the same amount as we do even if not more,” he said.
Three are now 10 women in Warsheikh Fishing Association, which has a total of 210 members.
The director of Hirshabelle Ministry of Fisheries in Warsheikh, Abdikadir Hassan Mohamed, commended the role of women in Warsheikh’s fishing industry.
However, there is a lack of refrigeration facilities for storing fish before transporting it to Mogadishu. Qali said some of the catch goes bad before it can be sold.
The women also processing dried fish to sell in inland villages.
The fishing association, made up of 70 boats, transport fish to Mogadishu. The group buys blocks of ice from Mogadishu to refrigerate their fish supply during transportation although the ice does not last very long and keeping the fish fresh is a challenge.