A BMU-IKI funded project titled Locally Empowered Area Protection (LEAP) is helping to build artisanal fishers' capacity to improve their livelihoods while reducing pressure on natural resources.
By Ercilio Chauque
Small-scale fishing communities often struggle to eke out a living with depleting resources. This has been the case with communities living in Mecúfi district, Mozambique: Despite having a young and mostly female population (52.7%), women from Mecúfi continue to experience high levels of inequality with regards to decision making and management of natural resources.
A BMU-IKI funded project titled Locally Empowered Area Protection (LEAP), implemented by IUCN in partnership Nature Seychelles, Associação do Meio Ambiente (AMA) and Coastal Oceans Research and Development – Indian Ocean (CORDIO) is helping to build artisanal fishers' capacity to improve their livelihoods while reducing pressure on natural resources.
The project has so far revitalized six Community Fisheries Councils (CCPs) directly involving 150 members, 35% of whom are women. These CCPs represent the needs and concerns of fishing communities at the government level and teach artisanal fishers the importance of managing marine resources sustainably.
Five community Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) have also been created, involving a total of 118 members, of which 76% are women. These VSLAs made up of 10-25 members save money together and use the money they have saved to lend to one another.
“We see these VSLAs as an opportunity to make our dreams come true. Through the savings, I can support my husband, and as women, we can start small businesses such as fish trade, sale of cakes, meals, capulanas, boost agriculture, horticulture, improve our homes and pay for our children’s education,” says Muanassa Rajabo, a member of one of the VSLAs.
Looking to the future
Through the implementation of the above activities among others, the LEAP project aims to strengthen effective management of coastal, island and marine biodiversity and ecosystem services while ensuring that women have an equitable role in decision-making on the management of the resources.