Vulnerable coastal community members in Suai Loro, Covalima are dependent on mangroves for their livelihoods and recently took the initiative to organize themselves into mangrove conservation groups. One of the groups is comprised of women and focuses on horticulture.
Marcelina Gomes, 45, organised the women to establish the ‘Matadalan’ horticulture group based in Suai-Loro which is engaging in mangrove protection.
“In addition to our work together to cultivate and monitor our vegetables, another important activity is engagement in mangrove conservation”, explains Marcelina as her group prepares the land for the second harvest.
“It is part of our contribution to ensure mangrove restoration which will protect us from the sea.”
The UNDP Coastal Resilience Building Project is partnering with local NGO Hametin Lia Tatoli to implement community based ecological mangroves restoration (CBEMR) and coastal community livelihood strengthening interventions.
Since the inception of the project, UNDP has conducted awareness raising and sensitization activities at the suco level to create understanding of the value of mangrove protection and encourage community contributions to coastal ecosystem conservation.
The seven members of the Matadalan group tirelessly cultivate their land to grow various vegetables. Since January 2018 they have earned almost USD $1,000. All members decided to save their money in a group bank account, with some used for maintenance and purchasing materials to support daily activities.
“Thanks to UNDP and NGO Hametin Lia Tatoli, we have received vegetable seeds, agriculture materials, water pump and other tools. The awareness and support motivated and enabled us to start cultivation and earning an income using our land.”
The groups are incentivised to engage in alternative economic activities through provision of training, start-up capital, agricultural materials and horticulture seeds to improve their income.
Since the establishment of the group and support from UNDP resulting in generation of income, she testified that other women in their community are inspired to do something similar.
“In addition to our plan to improve our production in the coming months, we plan to expand our farming area so that we can produce more and also engage more women to work with us for better life and join forces to protect our mangroves and environment,” she added.
All the women in the group are proud of their work, motivated to learn and manage their income together to improve the livelihoods of their family and send their children to school.