Restoring Coastal Livelihoods in Indonesia
Women speak up in village after village, all along the coast of South Sulawesi, Indonesia where an Oxfam program called Restoring Coastal Livelihoods is underway.
In Nisombalia village meetings women would sit shyly at the back of the room. Now they sometimes outnumber the men. In Celillang, where women whispered when they first attended village meetings, they now are accustomed to stating their needs, securing public funds for vegetable garden seeds, reproductive health education and skills training.
“I used to be too scared to go to meetings in the village because I couldn’t read and write,” says Nurlia, now leader of a women’s group that has won support from local authorities for a dried meat and salted eggs business.
When Muslimah attended her first village development meeting, she did not dare speak. After Oxfam field training, she made a presentation about the local women’s economic group at a local planning meeting. “I was amazed and proud,” she says.
60 villages benefit from Restoring Coastal Livelihoods
Restoring Coastal Livelihoods is a five-year (2010-2015) project designed to improve economic security and women’s rights in 60 villages on the west coast of South Sulawesi province, Indonesia. It is supported by Oxfam Canada, Oxfam Great Britain and the Canadian International Development Agency.
The aim is to strengthen the ecological and economic resilience of these communities by restoring degraded mangrove forests, farming saline soil, stimulating the growth of small enterprise and helping women secure a voice in local development.
Sixty economic groups have been organized through the project implemented by Oxfam with two local partner organizations. One partner is the non-profit, non-government Mangrove Action Project. The other is Yayasan Konservasi Laut or Marine Conservation Foundation. They collaborate with local government, private enterprise, aquaculture and agriculture teachers and specialists.
The majority of the members of village economic groups are women and many of them are generating income by producing seaweed, vegetables, fish and crab crackers, using abandoned land and fish ponds for organic farming and aquaculture.
The Mangrove Action Project provides coastal field schools with hands-on training in production, processing and business development. Among topics covered in three-month training sessions are organic farming, development of Nypah palm sugar, sea holly and bamboo charcoal products, as well as saline-tolerant rice paddy cultivation.
Restoring Coastal Livelihhods includes advocacy with authorities to provide women direct access to basic needs such as fresh water and electricity as well as channels to market their products in four districts: Maros, Barru, Takalar, Pangkajene Kepulauan (Pangkep).
Impact of Restoring Coastal Livelihoods
Fourteen women’s economic groups have conducted market assessments, negotiated with buyers to market their products, developed business plans and started to expand their businesses by themselves.
More than 190 hectares of mangrove forests degraded or destroyed by now-abandoned fish ponds have been restored and another 120 hectares have been identified for restoration.
More than 1,000 beneficiaries, mostly women, have received training at 44 coastal field schools.
Local levels of government are adapting their practices by including gender equality issues and considering proposals from women’s groups in policy planning and development.
Posted March 2013
|Muslimah Amazed and Proud|
The program is teaching hundreds of women like Muslimah the skills and confidence to help their poor communities flourish. Trained in small farming techniques and leadership skills, she was “amazed and proud” to represent her women’s group at village planning meetings.
When Women Find Their Voice
|Restoring coastal lands|
"I learnt a better way to prepare land for rice using organic fertilisers, and that spacing the seedlings reduced competition, making them grow better. I also got to know that there are seeds that can be grown in salty land and was really keen to try them." – Halmia, after attending a coastal farmer field school established by the Mangrove Action Project, an Oxfam partner.
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