Although fish is culturally acceptable and considered ‘halal’ (or permissible in Islamic parlance), Somalia’s per capita consumption of fish is one of the lowest in the world. Fish is relatively easy to access for large sections of the population.

Despite having the second longest coastline in Africa, Somalia’s fishing industry remains largely underdeveloped and its fisheries unexploited. This is partly due to decades of conflict and piracy on the high seas – but also because fish does not form part of the traditional Somali diet.

The country is still emerging from a food security crisis following the drought and famine of 2011 that left many thousands dead.

The main reasons for low consumption are limited availability, high cost and general lack of knowledge, skills and equipment for preservation and storage.

Between the months of October and December 2018, Star Media Development Centre (SMDC), with the support of German international development agency GIZ, conducted a media campaign in the southern Somali coastal city of Kismayo to raise the level of awareness and demonstrable knowledge of the nutritional values of fish consumption among vulnerable people and the application of such knowledge.

The campaign, dubbed ‘Dish on Fish’, was aimed at encouraging families living in and around the coastal city to start including fish in their diets. The campaign was also aimed at raising awareness about the nutritional benefits of eating fish and appropriate methods for preparing and preserving fish among returning refugees, internally displaced persons & vulnerable residents of Kismayo.

The campaign caught the attention of the population and even encouraged residents to change their eating habits.

SMDC produced and broadcast radio dramas, Public Service Announcements (PSAs), radio/TV panel discussions, vox pops, a theme song, promos, conducted roadshow and organised a cooking competition for the residents all as part of the Food for Nutrition awareness campaign.