A Local Delicacy

Nkombo Island, where Hands Producing Hope is working, sits happily in the middle of Lake Kivu. This lake is known for its unique fish called Sambaza, often called lake sardines. In fact, it is the most traded and one of only a few fish varieties able to survive in this methane lake! These smaller fish are a local delicacy and a staple of many meals! If you live around the area or have ever come for a visit you are to sure have tasted, seen, or at least heard of these guys! Some jokingly say that if a man’s wife does not cook him Sambaza, then she is mistreating him.


For many of the families on Nkombo Island and lake-shore towns, this is their way of income; however, it is not a very sustainable one. The men fish throughout the night to early morning in their wooden boats and the women spend their days in the market selling. The income from this is very small and so is the demand, since the market is so saturated. Another issue is that because of over fishing and recent decline in Sambaza population, the government has decided during mating season that no fishing is allowed. So, for two months every year, these families are left without any income at all. Finding other means of work is difficult, but needed.


You can find Sambaza at most meals here. Often, they are fried or cooked in a gravy eaten over rice. There's no cleaning these guys, you simply eat them whole! We had our fair share on this trip, eyeballs and all. So, if you ever get the chance, we recommend you give them a try!