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How the mobile phone is boosting fish quality at Lake Edward and Albert


Eng. Jacques Kapagama, a fisheries statistics expert in the DRC ministry of fisheries and livestock, testing the mobile based system at Kasenyi landing site in Ituri province of DRC. With him is Kakura Unjoka Jean-Henri (left) one of the local enumerators who has been trained for this project


Kasenyi, DRC | THE INDEPENDENT | What connection can there be, between a normal smart mobile phone and an increase in quality and quantity of fish catch from a lake?

Well, on the trans-boundary Lakes Edward and Albert, between D.R Congo and Uganda, the two are very closely interlinked.

This is because the LEAF II Project is pioneering a largely mobile-based Fisheries Management Information System that will enable continuous Catch Assessment Survey (CAS) for the two lakes.

How the System Will Work

At the centre of this is a locally developed, cloud-based application available for download on Google Play. Through it, local fishers and their officials, based at various landing sites, armed with just a phone and some airtime (data) can regularly collect information at their normal working areas and this is transmitted to a central database accessible to both countries and anyone else online.

“From the database, the two countries will monitor quantity of fish caught, fish sizes, species, boat and fishing gear types per landing site and generally monitor status of health of the two lakes,” said Eng. Jacques Kapagama, a Fisheries Statistics Expert in the D.R Congo Fisheries Ministry.

The system can immediately summarize and produce information in form of graphs and excel sheets, available to fisheries officials and to the public. The information system has been developed by a team from both countries led by Isaac Omiat, an IT expert at the Ministry of Fisheries of Uganda and  Daddy Tshiyombo an IT expert from the D.R Congo Ministry of Fisheries.

The D.R Congo experts provided the database to run the system while the Ugandan expert developed its website, software and operating system.

“This system is very important because before the LEAF II project, D.R Congo had never conducted any Catch Assessment Survey (CAS) on its lakes due to financial resources constraints,” explains Eng. Jacques Kapagama.

LEAF II enabled D.R Congo to organize the first standardized CAS in the two lakes and trained enumerators and supervisors who, using this system, will collect data on a  permanent basis on the course of their regular duties.

On his part, the Governor of Ituri Province  Jean Bamanisa Saidi and his Minister for Fisheries Affairs,  Guerchole Dramani commended LEAF II for supporting D.R Congo, and said information generated through the system will support their government’s decision making.

The two spoke during a briefing session at the Governor’s offices in Bunia, earlier this year.

“The system is multi-lingual (French and English) and operates online and offline and as data is entered, it is saved, so any error at any stage can be corrected without losing already entered data,”  Omiat the System Developer explained. The enumerators will be provided with airtime and access codes, generated by fisheries officials and systems administrators from their respective countries.

“I prefer this system because once I input information, it transmits immediately and my work is complete and even if am in a place with poor network coverage, information remains in my phone and later transmits on its own,” explains  Kakura Unjoka Jean-Henri, one of the local enumerators who has been trained for this activity.

On a normal day,  Kakura is a landing site community health monitor (chief de sante) and his regular job is to inspect fish handling at Tambaki area of Tchomya landing site on Lake Albert (D.R Congo).

“Costs of conducting standard CAS are very high, hence most African countries rarely conduct them, furthermore, national budget allocations to fisheries research activities are often meagre, which affects the quality and reliability of fisheries information,” explains  Godfrey Sengendo, the Regional Project Coordinator for LEAF II. Once completed, the system will be handed over to the two countries for maintenance beyond the LEAF II project



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