After nine seemingly never-ending months, the CH Cold Store has opened for business and is supplying the women of Winneba with a steady and secure supply of frozen fish to be smoked and sold.
In our work with the women and families of Winneba, Challenging Heights realized that one of the major contributing factors to reasons why a child would be trafficked is because their family could not afford to properly care for them. We spoke with the women in these high risk trafficking communities to find out what would be the best way to serve their needs and learned that selling smoked fish is a source of income that they already knew how to do, but had production issues that we could address.
The project began with the construction of more than 50 fish smoking kilns. Women in the community form small cooperative groups and sign up with our Livelihoods Officer to be able to use the high-quality and durable smoking kilns, which are in a safe and centralised location. Most smoking kilns in Winneba are at people’s homes and are made from mud and clay, meaning that many women would need to schedule their own smoking around the owner’s smoking times and the kilns were not very durable.
Once the women had a place where they could reliably and regularly smoke fish, the fish supply in Winneba became an issue. While Winneba is a coastal community and the fishermen set out year-round, there are only a few months during the year where the catches are plentiful. The rest of the year, there is often a shortage of fish to be found and smoked in the community. This shortage would force the fishmongers to journey to Tema, at least a three-hour journey one way, to purchase fresh fish to then bring back to smoke. These costly and time consuming trips would take them out of the community and away from their children, thus exposing the need for a cold store in the area to meet these women’s needs.
All of which leads to the opening of the CH Cold Store two weeks ago. On our first day, we sold fish to 150 women in the community. We’ve been restocking the fish every three to four days because of the consistent demand that we’ve had. There’s been an increase in interest in joining the fish smoking cooperatives, because the smoking kilns are mere steps from the cold store, making a fish smoking business easy. The store stocks a variety of products, including several kinds of fish, chicken and chips and plans for expanding the stock are in the works. We’re also working about better systems for keeping track of our customer base, and what their needs and wants are, as well as trying to find ways to increase revenue. But for the moment, we’re happy to celebrate this milestone of our Livelihoods work.