A pit stop on the way to prosperity
Nias fishermen use a small grant to create a re-fuelling point for better fishing access
NIASS [ACTED News] - Tiny Wunga Island off the northwest coast of Nias could easily be mistaken for the setting of Robinson Crusoe: long white beaches edged with coconut palms arching around a crystal blue lagoon, the island’s back turned nonchalantly to the Indian Ocean. This green and turquoise paradise provides a bounty for poor local fishermen from Nias, but it is difficult to reach given its distance from the mainland. One of the Self-Help Groups mobilized during ACTED’s livelihoods recovery projects funded by the Canadian Red Cross (CRC) has recently overcome these challenges together to realize a collective project to improve their access to Wunga Island and catch more fish. The group chose the title Some Napoleon to combine the name of an extinct fish in Nias language with the influential French historical figure to symbolize the power and uniqueness of their bond.
After participating in the business skills training facilitated by ACTED in Nias’ Afulu sub-district, the thirty members of Some Napoleon drafted a proposal for grant funds to organize a rotating savings and loan group. Some Napoleon’s application was among the 154 selected by ACTED for funding by the project in a two-stage disbursement process requiring the groups to demonstrate administrative and financial capacity. All of Some Napoleon’s members are originally from the coastal area of Afulu sub-district and from there it takes around two hours by boat to reach Wunga Island. The group received six new boats built while ACTED trained marine carpenters during the project’s first phase in 2009. These boats enabled them to expand their fishing expeditions to Wunga, but they remained limited to day trips by the amount of fuel they could purchase for each expedition. The start-up capital provided by ACTED for their savings and loan scheme has allowed them to establish a re-fuelling point on Wunga which is managed by the group members and makes it possible for them to extend their stay on the island for longer periods to catch fish. Additionally, Some Napoleon’s members are using the techniques they learned during the project’s post-harvest processing training to smoke and cure fish for better transportation back to markets on Nias.
Muhammad Sharif Chaniago (known as Ama Gamisi) is a 58 year-old father of five and describes the project’s impact, "After receiving training and a small grant from ACTED, members of our group can now stay on Wunga Island because now we have created a place to refuel the boat using the savings and loans system we started. This effort was successful because it saves us time and costs so that we can catch more fish than ever before."
Some Napoleon meets once a week at Afulu’s port to update each other on fishing conditions and coordinate savings and loan activities among members. One of the final phases of ACTED’s livelihoods consolidation project will include another round of boat distribution to fishery Self-Help Groups that have demonstrated effective use of the skills and resources they have gained during the their work with ACTED. Some Napoleon has been pre-selected as a recipient candidate and ACTED hopes an even higher boat-to-member ration will maximize the group’s success.
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