Drought in Zimbabwe seems not to be cooling off at all as it continues to render the residents of the area helpless with no basic necessities of life – food and water. Today, report has it that the harsh effect of the long going drought in the country has also affected the production of fish in the area.
With water level drastically on the decline in most of the country’s reservoir, fish marketers in the country have raised concern over the long-term sustainability of fisheries as their source of income and nutrition.
Report revealed that some of the sellers cry over the drastic fish shortag, saying things are no longer as they used to be before. A fish seller Thandi Ncube, who sells fish around the densely populated townships of Bulawayo related their sufferings by saying that the fishermen are saying their catch is getting low.
Agreeing to this fact, climate experts say climate change is having an impact on fishing, but Zimbabwe is yet to study precisely how it is affecting supplies that for years have supported thousands of families across the country.
Thandi Ncube usually bought her kapenta and bream fish in bulk from fishermen just outside Bulawayo and sell kilogram of bream for around $3 but this time drought has turned things around for her as fish is no longer available in the quantities that Ncube and her customers want.
“It is all kinds of fish that we do not get anymore. I have to sell other items such as tomatoes to survive.”
The city of Bulawayo is usually where consumers have for years turned to fish as a cheaper alternative to beef and chicken. Fishes were bought at $3 while the same amount of beef costs up to $5.
Thamsanqa Mloyi, a farmer in Filabusi, about 150km (90 miles) south of Bulawayo said:
“Ponds that used to provide us with fish have dried up.”
Considering the poverty rate of the country (UN says millions in Zimbabwe survive on less than $1) compounded by the long term climate change and economic decline, it would be disastrous for the prices of fish to be increased.
This will not only affect consumers who would not afford the price but also the sellers who would be suffering loss and damage of their products.
Rudo Sanyanga, the Africa programme director for International Rivers, a non-governmental organisation, said stocks normally surge in periods of high rainfall and fall when the water goes down. But this has long stopped as the last heavy rain fall in the first half of March weren’t enough to significantly replenish water levels in severely depleted reservoirs and ponds,
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority had in February stated that the nation’s reservoir levels stood at 51 percent countrywide, with Upper Ncema dam, previously a site of thriving fisheries in Matebeleland South province, almost empty at just 1.8 percent of capacity.
To this, Sanyanga of International Rivers called for catchment restoration programmes to help stabilize fish stocks.
However, she warned that the threat to fish in Zimbabwe extends beyond climate change and dwindling reservoir levels to human activity. She mentioned overfishing as the major factor. She said;
“Over-fishing is a symptom of poverty and, at times, greed. As long as fisheries resources are common, it will be difficult to eliminate over fishing practices.”
“It is probably too late to protect some of our fish populations.”