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Sierra Leone: Fishing for the future

02-11-2000 News Release 00/42

Fishing is not just a job for Foday Baka – it is a way of life. The 60-year-old from Gbandi village in Sierra Leone's Pujehun District had always made his living by catching fish in the Moa river. But then the war broke out and, like so many other conflict victims, Foday found himself far from home and unable to support his family. After languishing for nearly six years in camps for the internally displaced, he finally returned to his village only to find that most of it had been destroyed. Now the ICRC's fishing kit programme has helped Foday, his wife and their three sons to make a new start.

The ICRC not only aids war victims in emergency situations; it also helps them to rebuild their lives in the long term. In Sierra Leone this is being done mainly by distributing seeds for staple crops and tools to farmers who have been displaced or have lost everything as a result of the war. During the past six months some 36,000 families have received this type of assistance. The ICRC has also provided vegetable seeds, tools and, most important, training in their use for women's associations comprising nearly 12,000 war widows and other vulnerable women in the Freetown area.

Foday and nearly 100 other families in Pujehun District have been given fishing nets, hooks and other equipment. The fish they catch will be a vital source of protein for their communities and will provide them with a small income. And for Foday, being able to fish again means hope for a brighter future because, as he put it, every time he saw a river during his six years of exile he felt depressed and discouraged.