Fishing for Hope: A Story of Egypt’s Army of Nile Cleaners
May 27 2021
On a sunny day near Qursaya island, a low-income neighbourhood located in the heart of Cairo, the VeryNile team met Farid. He had been struggling to make a living, faced with local economic and ecological problems as both the supply and demand of fish had been steadily falling. A win-win partnership was established: VeryNile launched the ‘Reviving Cairo Fishermen’ project, aiming to establish and foster a new sustainable model of collection of recyclables from the Nile. Fishermen in Cairo own their personal or family boats, navigate easily along the Nile, and are aware of the areas where garbage piles up. VeryNile benefits from the fishermen’s mobility and expertise, while financially compensating them for every kilogram of recyclables they collect from the Nile.
The model has proven to be an effective tool for generating income and increasing the livelihood of the fishermen/women communities, while cleaning the Nile and raising awareness on the importance of keeping the river clean. It is a true partnership in every sense of the word. Using the safety equipment provided by VeryNile (masks, gloves, nets, etc), fishermen collect recyclables and drop them off at the VeryNile Fishermen Hub, located on Qursaya Island in the heart of Cairo (governorate of Giza).
To maximise social impact, VeryNile creates job opportunities for locals on the island – so that operators at the Hub sort and compact all garbage collected, making it 90% more storage and transportation efficient. To ensure that women are also represented and empowered, VeryNile created job opportunities for women living on the island. Through workshops, women were trained to create upcycled products using collected plastic, which will be sold through VeryNile’s private sector partners.
Every day, VeryNile fishermen collect an average of 100kg of recyclables which they sort and compact. It is a process that raises awareness online and offline regularly, engaging more people of all ages and sparking a crucial conversation about our approach to the environment. The plastic will be sold to recycling agencies and brands at a premium price, honouring its environmental and social impact and contributing to the long-term sustainability of the project.