The Aquarech app has been developed in Kenya to improve the marketing of fish caught in Lake Victoria and also help women fishmongers fend off sex-for-fish exploitation by fishermen.
Dave Okech designed the app to help to improve fish marketing. The app allows traders to buy fish without having to negotiate with fishermen and pick goods after ordering avoiding contact with fishermen, who demand sex for fish. Its been a problem faced by women fish traders especially those who have fallen into debt to fishermen.
“You build up a lot of debt and is difficult to pay it back, so you keep saying you’ll pay later but you end up repaying the debt by having buoyant sex with the fisher,” says Omondi, a mother of six.
Jaboya means sex for fish and this practice has been rampant on the shores of lake victoria. Women could say the problem is driven by poverty and diminishing the fish stocks caused by overfishing. Some 30% of the women fish traders are involved in jaboya, said officials from Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute.
“Especially the widowed ones they have to feed their families so they would feel they need to be involved in this phenomena to support their families, mostly in female-headed households,” said Fonda Awuor, Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute.
The supply of fish for sale and the incidence of sexual exploitation have come down over the past 10 years, according to the research institute. Officials also predict the Aquarech app will help bring the numbers down even further.
Launched during the covid pandemic, aquarech said it has about 150 fishmongers in Kisumu using the app. The company hopes to expand to neighboring counties and aims to enroll 1000 fish traders by the end of this year. Fishmongers are now relieved for they can sell their fish without fear of being sexually exploited.
“We have been amazed to see what the impact of innovation has had in terms of how many women are now able to trade on fish in a free open environment without subjecting themselves to the dehumanizing act of sex for fish commonly known as jaboya, “Dave Okech, Aquarech Founder concluded.