Living in the fishermen communities of 'Our Sea Our Life project'.

November 1, 2017

 

Mission: To reach Cabo Delgado province, in order to spend time in the fishermen communities of the Our Sea Our Life (OSOL) project and to see the co-management of marine resources.

 

After leaving MMF in Tofo this was our goal, although it was easier said than done ! We planned to head up north, near the Tanzanian border, in the cheapest way possible and hopefully see some places along the way. Mozambique is a coastline country of 2500km long and we left from far south.

 

To cut a long story short, it took us just over one week of travel by various means and with a few stops along the way. One place really worth stopping and mentioning here is Ilha de Moçambique. This island was the capital of the country during the colonial period. The whole place feels like it has been left in a past time! We spent two days visiting historic buildings and sailing around the nearby islands. It was welcomed after so much time on the road! This is a must see stop if you visit Mozambique.

 

We had to reach Pemba, the largest city in the north and meet there with AMA (Associaçao do meio ambiente, a local NGO partner of OSOL). After 11 hours on a local bus, we arrived in Pemba and met with Thomas, AMA executive officer, during the evening. The idea was to leave really early the following morning to visit a village nearby where AMA was working and hold an interview with Thomas.  We would then head to Moçimboa da Praia to meet Jeremy, OSOL coordinator, and leave with him for the fishermen communities.

 

The way to Moçimboa the next day was amazing. First the car was way more comfortable than the local bus! And we crossed the Quirimbas National Park with the luxury of seeing a sunset in the savanna.

 

We arrived in Moçimboa where we finally met Jeremy at our local guesthouse and started to plan our trip to the fishermen communities involved in the project for the next few days. Getting the essence of the project to prepare interviews and our itinerary was a bit more difficult than with MMF, as the project is more technical. Here is the explanation we had before arriving:

 

“The Our Sea Our Life project works with six vulnerable communities to manage local fisheries. The goal is to improve the resilience of coastal ecosystems and community well-being by creating community fishers’ councils for the management of 500ha of marine areas, developing sustainable financing mechanisms and supporting Village Savings and Loan Associations to invest in alternative small-scale businesses and secure a diversity of income.”

Time to see it with our own eyes!

 

The plan was to start with Lalane village the next day to see the community and meet Chief Ali. We would spend the night there and leave the next day to visit an island nearby where a nomad fishermen community was living at this time of the year.

 

We left in the morning with the pick-up car filled with camping material for us and equipment brought by the project to the village. After a stop to buy food and water for the upcoming days we headed-up to Lalane, the closest village. OSOL is working with 6 fishermen communities which are located in remote places. We visited and slept in Lalane, Quiwia and Quirinde village. The way there is an experience! It took us two hours of savanna tracks to reach Lalane, more or less 30km away from Moçimboa.

 

As soon as we arrived Jeremy introduced us to Chief Ali and the people from the village working on the project. Needless to say our arrival was noticed! As Jeremy explained to us, it was the first time the village received the visit of more than one foreigner at a time.

 

We spent the day speaking with the people to get their view of the project, learning more about it, seeing the equipment the village has from the project and of course starting the interviews. Speaking of which, people don’t speak Portuguese in this part of Mozambique (neither do we by the way) but different dialects based on Swahili, changing from village to village. We ended up holding the interviews in the local language with our questions being translated from Portuguese. Don’t worry, they will be subtitled!

 

We took advantage of the afternoon to take some beautiful images of the village and of a thunderstorm building at sea.

 

It was already time to settle for the night. After some unlucky attempts to attach my hammock (almost destroying a house trying), I had to go for a tent kindly provided by Jeremy, as Ben was way cleverer to find first the only available spot for his hammock.

 

After a basic camping dinner (plain pasta as we forgot any kind of sauce), we took part in a movie projection from portable equipment brought by the project, as part of the education process.

 

We were exhausted and the time to go to sleep was welcomed. But we hadn’t counted on the thunderstorm that finally reached the village. It was a powerful one with heavy rain.

 

After a very short night during which I woke up in a swimming pool (tent badly settled I guess), we had to face an issue.

 

The rain was too heavy and was about to make the savanna tracks from which we came impossible for the car. We could either gather everything and leave as soon as possible or get stuck until the road is passable again, which could take a while. Walking back carrying everything through the savanna was not an option.

 

After thanking everybody, we headed back to Mocimboa. The project and how beneficial it is was clear to us but we needed more images and more interviews to present it in a good way.

 

Jeremy had others matters to attend to but was really generous to leave us with Jamen, marine biologist working with AMA for OSOL and Deuasse, AMA driver, both from Cabo Delgado province.

 

With the two of them we left for Quiwia to meet Chief Assane and see a fishermen council built thanks to OSOL. We also took advantage of being there to take some good images as this village is stunning, located right on the beach. The way to the village was amazing, crossing savanna for a long time to arrive at the location. Deuasse didn’t allow us to stay long in the open truck of the pick-up as he was worried about what animals could be around but unfortunately, we didn’t see any.

 

A shame as this part of Mozambique is famous for abundant iconic wildlife such as lion, elephant, … But the journey itself was priceless!

At the beginning of the afternoon, we left to visit another village, Quirinde, even more remote to do more interviews, meet fishermen and spend the night.

 

Things went quite fast and we were done by the middle of the afternoon. We hadn’t had much time to do sport for a while since we were always on the road, so this moment was the perfect opportunity for a running session in the savanna followed by a football match with the villagers!

 

I quickly reached my limits under this kind of weather and went for a swim. The beach was a few kilometres away and I arrived in time to enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets that I have ever seen. Unfortunately, I only had my phone with me and the few pictures I took don’t do it any justice. Just had to enjoy it!

After another night in the tent (no place at all for hammocks again!), we woke up at sunrise to interview the Chief before he left to go fishing.

 

We had recorded everything we needed to illustrate the amazing work OSOL is doing and the trip was reaching its end.  We headed back for our last night in Mocimboa where we managed to see the large fish market and spend some time with Jeremy who was back from another village of the project.

 

The next morning, we started the long journey back from Mocimboa da Praia to Marseilles, where we arrived a bit tired but amazed by this special country and the luck we had to meet the two projects and the amazing people working there.

 

Huge thanks to the OSOL project and Jeremy who made our stay amazing and taught us a lot about marine conservation! Special thanks to Jamen and Deausse for their help all along our stay!

 

Find more info on the website about the project and the interesting approach of resource management for the future :

https://www.zsl.org/conservation/regions/africa/our-sea-our-life

Here is our video about the OSOL project :

https://www.facebook.com/TheBlueQuest/videos/2119311108094417/

And here are some pictures :

https://www.facebook.com/pg/TheBlueQuest/photos/?tab=album&album_id=2132729130085948

 

This is the last article for Mozambique, we hope you enjoyed it!

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