A BETTER FUTURE FOR OUR NEIGHBORS
The socio-economic baseline survey of villages surrounding Thor Heyerdahl Climate Park has reviled shocking facts: 70% of the 5000 population lives below one USD per day. It is a big challenge to create new and better livelihoods for our disadvantaged neighbours. They need support to overcome abject poverty.
We have started with the poorest of the poor, the charcoal producers who destroy the mangrove forests to eek out a meagre living. Their monthly income is less than USD 80 per family (often with more than 4 children). It is important to provide them with other and better income to avoid further destruction of the mangrove forests. A community committee has been established with village leaders to produce a plan for rapid poverty reduction with sustainable development of the area.
The project has so far engaged 56 workers in establishing nurseries, clear land and plant 250.000 mangroves. More will come. The plan is to plant and regenerate 2 million trees. This means more jobs with decent income during the next years. Our aim is to increase the living standard of the poorest by 100% during the next three years.
One of the first initiatives was to provide flood control in our neighboring village with 65 families. They were evicted from an earlier location when the land was sold by their landlord. The only place available for new settlement was an abandoned area prone to yearly flooding with their homes submerged above floor level every monsoon season. The project purchase materials for a flood wall, to be constructed with free labour by the villagers. They have now got rights to the land and are in our priority list for new jobs.
An important part of our overall aim is to empower women with better education, health facilities and new livelihoods. Planting flowering mangroves to feed honey bees is one of the livelihood solutions. Another activity is coloring of clothes with natural dye from mangroves and various plants. Another job creation project is production of virgin coconut oil, coconut flour, vinegar, natural rope from coconut fibre and activated charcoal from coconut shells. There are several other opportunities in better utilization of local raw materials, and in aqua culture and shell production in the mangrove creeks.
The mangrove park can only be safe and protected when the local population have a decent living standard and do not need to cut forest to survive. And at the same time, it is our human obligation to secure a decent living to our less fortunate neighbors. Poverty reduction is not only a must in a pragmatic approach to secure mangrove forests from destruction in the future, it is also our human obligation to share resources in supporting our neighbors to a better life.
You are welcome as a partner. With more support, we can do more for disadvantaged communities in the global village.