More than three thousand fishermen in Kilifi County have been affected by the strong winds and large tidal waves being experienced in the Indian Ocean.
The fishermen from more than 17 Beach Management Units (BMU) have been forced to suspend fishing since March. They expect to resume in September when the situation is expected to return to normalcy.
On Saturday they called upon the County department of Disaster Management to consider them as those in urgent need of support and give them relief-food.
Speaking at Kilifi Old Ferry beach Chairperson Kilifi Central BMU, Suleiman Shaban said this year fishermen have experienced prolonged poor weather conditions unlike other years.
He said the condition has led to losses especially to artisanal fishermen.
“This is a disaster to us. The tides are high and very strong that no fisherman wants to risk to go in the waters. Feeding our families is now a problem for us and most of these fishermen cannot afford three meals in a day because they are not working. In past years fishermen would attempt to go and fish since the winds were not as strong as this year and the little catch would sustain them,” said Shaban.
Shaban said the BMU is counting losses of millions of shillings.
“There are no butcheries in Kilifi selling fish from local fishermen and most of them are travelling to Mombasa County to get fish which is delivered from Lamu County where most of the fish comes from Somalia,” said Shaban.
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Fishermen who can afford to go and do fishing are now selling a kilo of fish at shs350 from shs180 to fish mongers.
Chairperson Kilifi Boat Operators association Shallo Issa said both the National and County Government should come up with alternative ways of supporting fishermen during this tough season.
“We have always been writing letters to different offices both for the County and National Government seeking support for food but there is no response from any. We were asking if we could get food for at least these three months that we are not working. We want them to consider us the same way they respond when there is fire and drought and even floods,” said Shallo.
He said fishermen from Takaungu, Mtwapa, Kikambala, Kilifi Central, Bofa, Wesa, Uyombo, Matsangoni, Watamu, Malindi and Ngombeni BMUs in the County have been affected.
Together with BMUs, the Boat Operators are set to hold sensitization programs to all fishermen on the importance of saving part of their income.
“We want to write proposals to Government and Non –Government Organizations to support us set out emergency kitty. There are fishermen who do their work from hand to mouth and they are the ones that are mostly affected and they are also the majority,” he said.
Issa said the emergency kitty will keep off fishermen from risking their lives to go and look for food for their families.
Currently Very few fishermen with canoes are going to fish at the creek side for fear of their safety because they cannot go to the deep sea due to poor fishing equipment.
Kilifi County Chief Officer for Disaster Management and Planning Aden Mohamed said fishermen are part of the community which are affected by lack of food that is currently being witnessed in the County.
Mohamed said currently about 60,000 people are in need of food with Kaloleni, Ganze and Magarini Sub Counties being mostly affected.
He said the county has set shs20 million this quarter (July –September) for disaster management.
He said distribution of relief food and tracking of water to affected areas in currently on going.
A total of 4,067 bags of maize and 2,550 bags of beans have been distributed.