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Villagers turn to stream to fish for a livelihood

Once a popular boy’s hobby and pass time while tending livestock, fishing has become Francis Njuguna’s source of livelihood.

Armed with several hooks, fishing rods and strings, his day starts at daybreak, to take advantage of the earthworms swept into the marshy Manguo swamp, on the outskirts of Nyahururu town.

The overnight rains, he says, afford him the much-needed bait, in their absence, his dinner leftovers would do the magic.

He positions himself strategically, about 100 metres from a herd of hippos that now settle back to the Ewaso Nyiro river waters for the day.

“We call this swamp and village Manguo, which is the local name for the hippos. I have to wait until all the animals are back into the water to avoid being attacked,” the father of three narrates.

Peter Karanja, another part time fisherman, busy setting up several traps along a stretch he has been allocated for the day by his peers in the stream talks to KNA.

Karanja says that he is a carpenter and he comes to fish during his free time and when he wants fish to sell or take home to his family.

He however says that the fish they catch do not attract a good price because there is stiff competition from other fish produce available around Nyahururu town brought in from other places and especially Lake Naivasha.

“We sell the fish we catch here at between Sh100 to Sh150. That is very low compared to the same fish species that comes from Lake Naivasha that sells upwards of Sh300.

“We can fetch some good prices if other fish species are introduced in this stream. Moreover, many fishermen here do not have permanent selling points for their fish unlike other fish sellers in town. Most of us hawk the fish and we end up consuming most of it if not selling to our friends,” said Karanja.

Residents of Manguo village are sourcing their livelihood from river Ewaso Nyiro by practicing small-scale fishing in it.

The fish, mainly mudfish that has gained popularity among the locals, has offered the residents a delicacy and much needed extra income since they sell some of them to the residents of the populous informal settlement.

Peter Wainaina, a beneficiary of the river too, said that the fish originates from Lake Ol Bollosat. He added that the area is freely accessed as there are no restrictions hence everyone can earn a living from it without any interference.

“This river is a free zone area. Nobody is restricted from fishing in it. It also serves as a job to most people who are jobless because they can come here and do their fishing and take the catch to the market,” said Wainaina.

The river has its pros and cons. It is dangerous due to the presence of hippopotamuses in it, which puts the lives of the residents in danger while it is also beneficial as it has improved the living standards of most of the residents too.

Despite the fact that river Ewaso Nyiro’s Manguo swamp, is well known for being dangerous due to the hippos in it, the residents still benefits from it as it is a source of livelihood to them; the fish they get from the river serves as food and as a source of income.

The fishermen, who have since created plans on how to fish sustainably, while allowing chances to eke a living, called on the county government of Laikipia to stock the portion of the river with other types of fish as a way of helping them start a community fish project.

By Antony Mwangi

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