Boats for a better life: Boat for Livelihood

“Boat for Livelihood”: this economic development project implemented by our NGO LIFE since October 2023 is being implemented in the district of Moulvibazar in the north-east region of Bangladesh. Its objective: to support fishing communities by providing them with modern and sustainable fishing boats in order to meet several challenges they face. Poverty, fishing practices that do not respect the environment, etc. Let's discover what this great initiative consists of to improve their daily lives, to protect the planet, while participating in the empowerment of communities as a whole.


Fishermen and their families in the villages of Hailhaor and Sreemangal

In the beautiful region of Moulvibazar, nestled in the heart of northeastern Bangladesh, vast wetlands extend, natural jewels home to a multitude of aquatic resources. These nourishing lands, Locally called Haor, are the cradle of a thriving life, where canals, lakes and rivers create a rich ecosystem.

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Here, fishing is much more than a simple activity, it is a way of life, a vital source of sustenance for the populations that depend on it. However, the poverty of the villagers is reflected in the background of this natural splendor.

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Many families in this region struggle every day to meet their basic needs such as food, education and health care.

Why? Fishermen very often do not have the financial means to buy their main working tool: their boat. Therefore, they must rent it from owners or intermediaries. However, rental costs are significant, up to €40/month per boat, which represents 20 to 40% of their monthly income. These expenses greatly reduce their profit margins and maintain the cycle of poverty.
And when they cannot afford to rent one, for a more or less long period of time, well there is no fishing possible... Income variability and economic uncertainty are therefore part of their daily lives. These patterns perpetuate the dependence of fishermen on intermediaries or boat owners who exercise control over their activities, creating exploitation situations.


But the challenges that Bengali fishermen face go beyond buying boats. Fishing nets, essential tools in their trade, are also a source of expenses. Undergoing constant wear and tear in demanding aquatic environments, they must be regularly repaired, which once again puts a strain on their meager financial resources.


This constant economic pressure that these fishermen experience on a daily basis to provide for their families pushes them to break the rules for the preservation of the environment. They will catch juvenile fish, do not respect sizes, quotas, etc. All this threatens the biodiversity of the region's aquatic environments.


“Boat for Livelihood” at the service of the well-being of Bengali fishermen and their environment

To meet these socio-economic and environmental challenges, our NGO LIFE has implemented the “Boat for Livelihood” project. We provide fishing boats to 75 poor fishermen in this region, and work to empower them through various devices. To achieve our goals, we have partnered with a trusted local partner, Social Aid, and involve local experts and traditional knowledge holders who understand the specific context of the community and its environment.


Our partner Social Aid

Social Aid is a voluntary, non-profit and apolitical development organization, established in 1995. She works to improve the lives and livelihoods of poor, vulnerable, and disadvantaged communities in remote, hilly, and underserved areas of Bangladesh. Over time, she has acquired skills that allow her to implement broader initiatives to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


The different parts of “Boat for Livelihood”



Our project, which we are both implementing, has several components.


The correct selection of beneficiaries 

Ensuring that aid reaches those who need it most is crucial. A survey is thus conducted on site by our partner Social Aid in order to identify future beneficiary fishermen and their families. It takes into account factors such as income, vulnerability, but also the desire to adopt sustainable fishing practices. In total, the aid is being deployed to 75 households and more specifically 550 individuals (400 children, 75 men and 75 women) who will be able to significantly improve their lives.


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The purchase and distribution of boats

Our partner Social Aid then forms a team to acquire fishing boats adapted to local fishing conditions and the needs of fishermen. It ensures that the boats are of good quality and durable. The choice falls on traditional-type models with a shallow hull that is ideal for fishing in marsh areas. Made of rongin wood, they offer remarkable resilience in water and withstand prolonged exposure to water. And they also have another notable advantage: in the event of a storm or big waves when fishing in wetlands, if the boat is about to capsize, it will not sink. It continues to float allowing fishermen to navigate safely and find a way to preserve their lives in the midst of turbulent waters.
We selected wooden boats. A little less solid than those made of fibreglass, they are much easier to repair! And wood is available on site! This ensures the long-term viability of the project, thus avoiding ending up very quickly with irreparable boat sanctuaries.

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Fishing net repair training for women 

75 women from beneficiary fishing families receive training covering both the techniques of making and repairing nets. Each session includes 9 - 10 women whose training duration is 20 hours in 5 days.



Awareness sessions 

Awareness-raising sessions are conducted with beneficiary fishermen. They provide them with comprehensive training on sustainable fishing techniques, the choice of suitable net sizes, and selective fishing methods. They explain to them how to avoid overfishing specific species. Its aim is also to make them aware of existing fishing regulations, such as seasonal prohibitions and size limits in order to protect vulnerable species and ensure the preservation of the ecosystem. Appropriate waste disposal techniques, especially plastic, are also discussed.

These learning sessions allow everyone to understand the importance and benefits of the good health of aquatic ecosystems, for humans and of course for the planet. By understanding the links between ecosystem health and their own well-being, fishermen become drivers of the conservation of their environment within their communities.


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Local authorities and the Department of Fisheries play a key role in this project. They put their expertise at the service of the training of selected fishermen.


Boat repair and maintenance training

During these sessions, topics such as repair, maintenance, and boat safety precautions are also covered. The knowledge acquired not only ensures their safety on bodies of water, but also helps to extend the life of their boats, leading to increased economic sustainability within the fishing community.


Monitoring and evaluation

In collaboration with our NGO LIFE, the Social Aid organization establishes a system for monitoring and evaluating the progress, impact and effectiveness of the project. Data is collected on the increase in income, the improvement of living conditions and the difficulties encountered by the beneficiaries.


The results of the “Boat for Livelihood” project

Here are the changes and positive impacts already noted and expected from the implementation of the project.


The increase in the income of the beneficiaries 

The 75 fishermen in need and their families are experiencing a significant increase in their income levels thanks to improved fishing opportunities facilitated by the provision of boats and skills acquired in the manufacture and repair of fishing nets. This new pattern allows them to progressively achieve economic stability.

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Improved food security 

Targeted families achieve improved food security thanks to the availability of fish, a vital source of protein, in their diet. All are better fed and vulnerability to food shortages is reduced.



Towards gender equality and women's empowerment 

Gender disparities within beneficiary families and communities are reduced, as women participate effectively in fishing activities, in particular by repairing fishing nets and playing an increased role in decision-making processes. In addition, the awareness-raising sessions that are organized include the subject of gender equality. They address social norms and stereotypes that exist in the fishing community. A feedback mechanism is created specifically for women to voice their concerns and suggestions, to ensure that their voices are heard and taken into account.



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Adopting sustainable fishing practices 

Sinners sign a contract with our NGO. This stipulates that in return for the acquisition of their boat, they adopt and implement sustainable fishing practices that guarantee the long-term availability of fishery resources. They need to reduce their environmental impact in the region as much as possible.


La preservation of the environment

The project therefore contributes to the preservation of the natural environment by ensuring the sustainability of the aquatic ecosystem of Moulvibazar and by minimizing negative impacts on biodiversity and water quality.


Thanks to the “Boat for livelihood” operation initiated by our NGO LIFE, the challenges faced by fishermen in Bangladesh can be transformed into opportunities for economic and environmental progress. With a collective commitment to sustainability, these families can play a critical role in protecting marine ecosystems while strengthening their own well-being and that of their communities. This project is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 1, 2, 5, and 14) by reducing poverty, ensuring food security, empowering women, and promoting marine biodiversity!

Together, let's continue to change lives and contribute to the empowerment of people in need.






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