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 neighbors. 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 seek out a 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 the sustainable development of the area.
Workers are established in nurseries, clearing land, and planting mangroves. 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 the new settlement was an abandoned area prone to yearly flooding, submerging their home above floor level every monsoon season. They have now got rights to the land and are on 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 the coloring of clothes with natural dye from mangroves and various plants. Another job creation project is the production of virgin coconut oil, coconut flour, vinegar, natural rope from coconut fiber 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 has a decent living standard and does not need to cut the 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, but 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.
FURTHER COMMUNITY SUPPORT
Further support from WIF to local communities is by creating sustainable income opportunities using the natural environment. Including Seaweed production and virgin coconut oil production. Additional support is given to families in the form of school support, solar panels and lamps, energy-saving cookstoves, safe drinking water supplies and support with social enterprises.