Fish farming and mangrove protection

A lucky catch for Tanzania’s fishermen

The idyll in the south of Tanzania is deceptive. Many young people are moving to the cities. Those who stay behind struggle with dwindling fish stocks, malnutrition and poverty. A fish farming project promises new perspectives. Translated with DeepL.


Country, region:
Lindi Region und Mtwara Region, Tanzania
January 2020 until December 2023
5'000 women, men und children (1'000 fishing families)
Total project budget:
504’046 CHF


The project aims to promote economically, socially and environmentally sustainable fish farming in southern Tanzania. This improves the livelihoods of coastal communities, combats rural poverty and promotes food security. At the same time, it reduces pressure on mangrove deforestation and wild fish stock.

Project overview

Palm trees are swaying in the wind. The waves of the Indian Ocean are lapping lazily against the white sandy beach. In the distance a few Ngalawas, local fishing boats, are rocking. Life in the village of Mchinga seems peaceful. But appearances are deceiving. “Our traditional fishing methods are no longer enough to feed us,” says fisherman Hamis Magawila, 48. “Often the waves are too stormy for our fishing boats.” The Ngalawas are left high and dry, and the pickings are meager. Increasing overfishing puts additional pressure on the fishermen.

The coastal district of the Lindi region is one of the poorest communities in Tanzania. The majority of the population barely manages to live on subsistence farming. The main crops are cassava, maize and millet. Livestock farming is rare. Fish is the only source of animal protein.

Reviving the fish farming

In order to give the fishing families a livelihood, SWISSAID is helping to revive local fish farming. This creates an alternative to unsafe wild fish farming. As part of the project, 70 existing saltwater fish breeding ponds and around 20 freshwater fish breeding ponds are being newly built or existing ones are being repaired and made fit for use in order to breed milkfish or tilapia.

The project aims to help 1,000 fishing families to build, operate and profit from saltwater and freshwater fish breeding ponds. In the photo a family with fresh food for the fish.

From the pond to the counter

Die Nachfrage nach Fisch ist gross, besonders im Inland. Doch der Weg vom Teich auf die Verkaufstheke ist beschwerlich: Die Fische müssen adäquat gefüttert werden, die Teiche mit Dämmen verstärkt sein, die Wasserqualität muss stimmen. Fischdiebe sowie Wildtiere erschweren die Arbeit zusätzlich. In Trainings werden die Fischer daher für die verschiedenen Herausforderungen geschult. Auch Hamis Magawila macht mit bei dem Fischzuchtprojekt. Er verspricht sich von der Fischzucht wichtige zusätzliche Einkommensmöglichkeiten und mehr Ernährungssicherheit.

Mangrove reforestation

The fish breeding ponds not only bring fresh fish to the coastal population on a daily basis. The project also includes environmental protection activities such as the reforestation of 16 hectares of mangrove forest. Many mangroves have been destroyed for firewood and salt mining. Mangroves form a crucial protective barrier against both coastal erosion and constantly rising sea levels and storm surges. This natural protection is more important than ever in times of climate change. Sustainable fish farming practices are also reducing pressure on nearshore fish stocks.

The 360-kilometer coastline in Lindi is lined with mangroves and estuaries suitable for fish farming. The ponds are fed by the tides. 

Fish are also women's business

In addition to fish farming itself, the project also includes the empowerment of women. Widowed or divorced women in particular have a difficult time in the coastal region. Fish farming has traditionally been the preserve of men. Recently, that has changed for Bilaya Mbano: “Now we share the tasks and work together,” says the 55-year-old. As part of the project, 400 women are being trained in fish farming and empowered as active and contributing members in local fishing groups.

Bilaya Mbano lets her eyes wander out to sea: “The fish farming project will help me feed my family.” Hope resonates in her voice. Perhaps the idyll is a ripple closer to reality than she thought.


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