For this South Sudanese Fisherman, a Livelihood is established

Fishing in Bentiu

By Wilson Bol

It was tough for Gatluak Diew Dhol to feed his family, pay fees for school goers and treat ailments which arise.

Walking into a shop in Unity State capital Bentiu one hot afternoon to buy a soda, Dhol noticed a fishnet on sale. It was worth 2000 South Sudanese Pounds. An idea came to his mind, and abandoning the soda, he bought the net and a fish hook.

“That was when I decided to venture into the fish business,” the 49 year old father of 12 told The Dawn in Bentiu.

With his purchases, Dhol then embarked on fishing, initially to supplement his meagre income. That was in 2021, a decision that is proving very lucrative in his life.

“I lay my net in the evening and by morning I would go, collect the fish caught in the river and sell them to fishmongers and make some money,” he said.

Dhol once owned a farm and had tens of heads of cattle but with a crippling crisis which hit Unity State and subsequent undulating floods, his livelihood was destroyed.

His farm was at a small scale, producing maize.

Thirty cattle of Dhol had survived the crisis but floods which began in 2020 killed 20 of them. He owns 10 currently.

A catch of fish in Bentiu

The floods, just like the crisis before it, he said, also left a whole told among his community, leading to deaths of people, cattle, destruction of farms, displacement and job losses.

Dhol got employed as a soldier earning 1700 SSP a month, salary which took months to reach him.

“It was a difficult situation and I needed to find a way to take care of my family,” he said.

“Currently one net catch of 50 fish earns me 75,000 SSP a day,” he said.

“I employ four people to transport and sell them and I do benefit from it because I’m able to feed my family and pay school fees for the children.”

“I want to be independent as a self-employee rather than going for a government job and wait four months for salaries,” he said.

Like Dhol, the crisis which erupted in South Sudan destroyed livelihoods for millions of people in the country. It led to the displacement of four million people, and destroyed the economy. The government was also hard-hit and left its institutions and provisions for the country struggling. In September 2018, a peace deal was signed and its implementation ushered in a transitional government that has overseen the pacification of the country, which has stopped fighting and set in peace and security.

Employment opportunity in the country dwindled as the crisis took toll, leading many employers to close. Governments funds too dwindled and leaving civil servants to go for months without salaries.

At community levels, many people are embarking on personal enterprising initiatives to make ends meet.

Such initiatives has seen rapid rise in development across the globe enhancing individual financial capacities and also propelling national development agenda of countries.

In China, what is called the township-village enterprises had a great impact on the rise of the country.

They filled a market niche for daily goods as incomes rose rapidly along with economic reforms, according to an abstract from a research work, “The Evolution of Chinese Entrepreneurial Firms: Township-Village Enterprises Revisited” authored by Chinese researchers Chenggang Xu and Xiaobo Zhang.

According to the research conclusion, “an important efficiency-enhancing trend in the Chinese private sector is that small entrepreneurial firms have become increasingly specialized and clustered” leading specialization through experience.

“These specialized small firms are linked together by networks of subcontracts so that every final product is produced by a collection of many specialized firms,” it said.

For Dhol, the new financial status is a plus in his life and has plans to develop further.

“The best thing is to be independent in your business like I am now fishing, and if I get better markets, I shall educate my children, build a better house for my family,” he said.

Dhol currently has 10 fishing nets and has noted that “they help me live life like any other person and will make me become rich.”

“If you are independent in your business you can easily manage your income, you can employ people in the community, people who have no access to work for the government, and you can decide when, where to allocate your business, and its easy managing risk,” he said.

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