From the 13-17 March 2023, Masifundise hosted its first inland fisheries youth activist school in Johannesburg. The school comprised of youth members from inland fishing communities in Vanderkloof, Gariep and Jozini.

During the week, participants explored the various small-scale fishing (SSF) issues that impact their communities such as lack of access to dams and traditional fishing grounds, criminalisation and harassment of inland small-scale fishers by local authorities and a need for localised markets and infrastructure to assist SSF and the broader community to be recognised in the sector.

“As a woman, some of the challenges we face in my community is gender-based violence as well as, the struggle for recognition for the work we do in the fishing sector. This makes it difficult for women in my community to secure their livelihoods and also to feed their children” said Silindile Menyuka youth participant from Msiyane village in Jozini.

The participants were also introduced to the concepts of food sovereignty and climate justice by the Climate Justice Charter Movement and learned the importance of organising and mobilizing their own communities and to advocate for the right to food and work as youth, and small-scale fishers.

During a visit to Constitutional Hill, the group learned more about South Africa’s history and its journey to democracy. It also served as a reminder that the South African Constitution protects your human rights.

Inland fishing community leaders attended the school to assist the youth with understanding the context of inland fisheries for small-scale fishers in their respective communities. Anthony Magou, small-scale fisher from Venterstad said,

“We are not recognised as fishers in the community and that’s what we are fighting towards. The youth did so well at the school. I could see there is interest and participation from the youth to bring the struggle for recognition of inland small-scale fishers forward.”

The summer school, part of the “Ensuring the social-economic rights and decent work conditions for South African small-scale fishers” (SERP) project and was supported by the European Union.

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