February 14, 2018

Rare, Swedish Postcode Foundation partner to empower coastal communities in Mozambique

The Swedish Postcode Foundation and Rare have announced a partnership to bring hope and opportunity to coastal communities in Mozambique. The Swedish Postcode Foundation—which fuels pioneering NGOs around the world—is supporting Rare in building the capacity of fishing communities to use fish catch and financial data to make more informed decisions in planning for their future, a central goal of Rare’s coastal fisheries program, Fish Forever.

“The world’s population is growing; thus, the preservation of all protein sources is becoming more crucial. Fishing and small-scale fishers play a vital role in achieving sustainability for people and planet. We are therefore proud to support Rare’s project which seeks to build the social and environmental resiliency of Mozambique’s vulnerable coastal fishers and fisheries,” said Marie Dahllöf, Secretary General of the Swedish Postcode Foundation.

Mozambique’s coastline extends more than 2,400 kilometers and sustains an economy and population dependent on coastal fisheries for jobs and protein. However, population growth and the accompanying rise in the number of fishers has perpetuated a decline in fish stocks, putting more pressure on the natural resources of a nation that is already one of the world’s poorest and heavily dependent on its natural resources.

 

Fishing and small-scale fishers play a vital role in achieving sustainability for people and planet.

Marie Dahllöf, Secretary General, Swedish Postcode Foundation

 

“The support from the Swedish Postcode Foundation will greatly benefit our work to inspire positive change in fishing communities up and down the Mozambique coast,” said Steve Box, Senior Vice President of Fisheries for Rare. “Fishing is central to many Mozambicans’ livelihoods. By inspiring fishers and fishing households to change their behavior, they are more likely to conserve the resources that sustain them, and build their capacity to determine their own future.”

Support from the Swedish Postcode Foundation will help Rare address two key barriers that the Fish Forever program faces in Mozambique: a dearth of data on coastal fisheries and a lack of access for fishing communities to banking and financial services, both of which result from the informality of the sector.

Coastal fish catch data are often missing, inaccurate or incomplete, and any data that is recorded by hand in notebooks is difficult to protect, share or analyze. Without the full picture of what and how much they are catching, it is difficult for fishing communities to sustainably manage their fisheries.

To address this core challenge, Rare is deploying OurFish, a mobile application that Box led the development of, and which makes capturing and sharing fish-catch related data easier for fishers and fish buyers.

(Read our story, “Tracing Fish and Finances”)

The app was designed with unique features to facilitate widespread adoption. The app’s icons and images make it easy to navigate for fishers and fish buyers, no matter their language or literacy rate. And fish buyers are ultimately responsible for data collection, mirroring traditional transactional records maintained by buyers. Notably, the system produces near real-time catch data to better inform decision-making, as well as provide fishers with their documented income history—uncommon in this informal sector.

The app is currently being used in fishing communities in Belize, Honduras, Brazil, and Myanmar with forthcoming plans to launch in Palau, Indonesia, the Philippines and Mexico.

(Read Hakai Magazine’s feature on OurFish)

On the financial front, the vast majority of fishers and their families in Mozambique do not have bank accounts or access to formal financial services (e.g., savings, loans, insurance), leaving households vulnerable during closed seasons, periods of low catch, or catastrophic loss from increasingly intense storms. To help fishers retain the money they earn and build wealth in the community, Rare is establishing pathways for fishers to be included in the formal economy.  The initial focus is on establishing savings clubs, a proven model designed to boost financial literacy, enabling rural communities to manage their financial resources and begin planning beyond day to day needs.

 

The support from the Swedish Postcode Foundation will greatly benefit our work to inspire positive change in fishing communities up and down the Mozambique coast.

Steve Box, Senior Vice President of Fisheries, Rare

 

The community-led savings clubs (Rare acts mostly as a trainer and facilitator) are comprised of representatives of fishing households who contribute to a pool of funds from which they can borrow in times of personal or professional need. The clubs are structured with rules for meetings and protocols to safeguard the pooled money. Since members are often family members, neighbors or friends, there is positive peer pressure to respect the established rules and continue to contribute funds regularly.

“Savings clubs can be the foundation for building economic resilience in coastal communities that lack access to banks and financial services,” said Carlos Arango, Rare’s Senior Manager of Economic Resilience. “Once club members see their savings grow, and realize their ability to retain that wealth, they are empowered by a new sense of self-reliance to envision future possibilities for their families and community.”

Building the capacity of communities to both manage finances and use catch data appropriately can motivate the kind of behavior change that is ultimately necessary to successfully conserve natural resources.  Initiating these key components will help strengthen Rare’s existing work in Mozambique to inspire community-led behavior change, a cornerstone of Rare’s approach, and pave the way toward national adoption.

The Swedish Postcode Foundation was established in 2003 by Novamedia Sweden AB, which operates and owns the Swedish Postcode Lottery concept. As a beneficiary to the Swedish Postcode Lottery, the Postcode Foundation annually receives part of the lottery’s surplus and delegates it to various types of projects including improving people’s living conditions, nature and environment, culture and sports.