Youth Workers Fish Farming Cote d'Ivoire
Youth workers pause to meet with visitors on a busy day working on fishpond construction. (Photo: Simon Koffi)

By Kepifri Lakoh
November 21, 2022 | Côte d’Ivoire

The Yambasu Agriculture Initiative (YAI) is creating jobs for youth and women in rural Côte d’Ivoire, while also building spaces for community engagement and evangelization. In March 2022, the Côte d’Ivoire Annual Conference received a grant from Global Ministries’ Yambasu Agriculture Initiative to undertake fish farming in rural communities.

Over the last six months, the annual conference has constructed fishponds and built a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) program for women in the city of Gouagonoupleu, 550 kilometers west of Abidjan. Once completed, the project is expected to produce 15,000 kilograms of tilapia each production cycle, creating a sustainable revenue stream that will be used for scaling up the enterprise and for the financial sustainability of the conference.

The VSLA program is expected to increase household income levels and fuel job creation for over 200 youth in the community. Young people have been employed in the construction process and have gratitude for the UMC program. They cite the program as enabling them to better care for their families – to afford food, school fees and healthcare – and prevents them from resorting to crime and drugs as a source of income.

Women participating in the Village Savings and Loan Association program hold a meeting. PHOTO: Simon Koffi

The head of the women’s group expressed, “We have started receiving trainings from the church. We have organized ourselves in terms of leadership structures and even in collecting financial contributions. We are hopeful that the YAI will give us a financial boost to help with our participation in the project as fish processors and traders.”

Pictured from left, during a September meeting: Côte d’Ivoire project manager Simon Koffi; YAI director Kepi Lakoh; Bishop Benjamin Boni and his wife Berthe Ngbesso Odombo. PHOTO: Courtesy of Simon Koffi

Bishop Boni of Côte d’Ivoire is committed to the success of the initiative, saying he has been one of the great proponents of this vision, together with his late brother in Christ, Bishop Yambasu, and other bishops in Africa. He also expressed gratitude that Global Ministries, under the leadership of General Secretary Roland Fernandes, is committed to seeing this vision come to fruition. Boni promised to work with his fellow bishops on the continent to ensure that sustainability of the African Church is not just a dream but becomes a reality.

Dr. Kepifri Lakoh is the director of the Yambasu Agriculture Initiative.