FCDP is supporting the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) in the Mali District, Macuata Province, and Northern Division to protect fragile marine resources, improve food security and increase income generating opportunities.
Since 2004 the Mali District, with about 400 people living in four villages, has received support from WWF. WWF has worked closely with community leaders to implement positive change through activities such as civic education on sustainable development, empowerment, governance training of community leaders and building their capacity to better manage their natural resources, particularly their marine resources. One such inspirational local leader is Tema Biuvakawalu of Vesi Village.
Tema has an intergenerational focus. She knows change will not happen quickly. Her focus is on creating a better and more sustainable place to live for her children and their children. She wants to provide leadership for her community.
With support from FCDP, WWF has helped Tema and her community to protect their fishing grounds from poachers. They constructed a watch tower and trained fish wardens to protect the fish breeding grounds. The community has banned fishing in these areas for over ten years and is vigilant in protecting them. Divers from the University of the South Pacific conducted a biological survey in early 2014 and identified significant changes since the reefs were protected, with an increase in the numbers and size of fish now observed in these areas.
Over the last three years Tema has been involved in many training sessions conducted by WWF. The program has inspired her to take on more of a leadership role in the community and become entrepreneurial to support her family and community.
Tema is actively involved in the Mali Development Committee as its secretary. She is also the local youth coordinator for the whole island covering the four villages in the Mali District. She runs individual youth groups for each village and is the events coordinator. She is also involved in the women’s club and is a volunteer health worker. She is passionate about helping the community.
Tema says she has seen big changes in attitudes in the community. WWF has encouraged many new projects and people see positive changes and more opportunities. For instance more people are creating nurseries and growing vegetables with WWF providing training and tools. With WWF’s assistance, the community has set up a piggery which is now run by the women’s group, established a local canteen for which Tema is the treasurer, and established a small depot to sell petrol for boats. More people are also selling handicrafts and produce at the market in Labasa. These alternative livelihood activities are taking the pressure off fragile marine resources.
Although some community members are watching and waiting, most are getting together and supporting the program. Personally, Tema has learnt so much from the program. She leads by example. She hopes to be able to run her own business soon selling fuel and fish. She is confident that once other people see what can be achieved they will also get involved.