Competing for kayabo: gendered struggles for fish and livelihood on the shore of Lake Victoria

Modesta Medard*, Han Van Dijk, Paul Hebinck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The dry-salted trade of Nile perch or kayabo is important for many along the shores of Lake Victoria. The kayabo trade started in the 1990s and has been increasingly restructured due to changing regional and global trade relationships. This shift has led to the emergence of hierarchical trading relations, which create an exploitative network in which powerful middlemen control the access of trade for women from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and marginalizes the Tanzanian women, changing the organization from a poly-centric to a more centralized trade organization in the hands of a small group of powerful business men. We show in this paper that whereas the women traders from the DRC manoeuvred themselves in positions from which they could manipulate the network through bribery and conniving to derive substantial capital gains from the kayabo trade, their Tanzanian counterparts however are excluded from the decision-making processes, access to fish resources, financial capital, and negotiation power. They persevere by operating in increasingly competitive markets, relying on illegal fish that they sell with little profit at local and domestic markets. They survive in jobs that are insecure and risky by nature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-333
Number of pages13
JournalMaritime Studies
Issue number3
Early online date5 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

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