Smartphone app closes gender gap
Fishing provides income for more than 600,000 Senegalese people. Ninety percent of the country’s fish are caught by “artisanal” fishers, who rely on traditional methods. Their earnings depend on weather patterns, market prices and consumer demand. Fish processors, customarily women, are central to the fishery value chain but have typically been disadvantaged: They earn less and have fewer business opportunities and less access to financial services than their male counterparts.
The Wireless Solutions for Fisheries in Senegal (WISE) project is using technology to make the fishing industry more profitable while closing the gender gap that has limited women’s advancement. The project, a public–private collaboration between FHI 360, Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™, the Senegalese Food Security Commission, Intermondes and TIGO-Senegal, has provided fishers and fish processors in Joal, Mballing and Mbour with 3G/4G-enabled Android smartphones equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) capability. The GPS feature allows fishers to communicate exact locations if stranded on the ocean, which has given some fishers lifesaving help.
Each smartphone is loaded with the WISE app, which provides market prices, navigational information and weather forecasts for fishing communities to plan for weather extremes, negotiate the best prices for their products and chart safe courses to and from fishing zones. Importantly, the project has targeted 100 local cooperatives, of which half serve women fish processors. WISE project activities have helped women to achieve a ten-fold increase in their business, from 100 kilos to 1,000 kilos of fish per person per month.
The WISE app, originally created in English and French, is now available in Swahili. The project currently supports more than 2,200 people and will serve about 1,000 more when it expands to serve fishing communities in Dakar. The app has also been enhanced to provide commodity market data to workers outside of the fishing industry.
Photo credit: Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™