SeyCCAT funds: SCR 100, 000 / Co-financing: SCR 25, 000
SeyCCAT strategic objective: 4
Lead Project Partner: Women in Action in Solidarity Organisation
- Landscape and Waste Management Agency
- Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change (MEECC)
- Ministry of Family Affairs (MoFA)Project Location: Anse BoileauDuration: 10 months
Each morning, around the east coast of Mahé, on Anse Royale and Au Cap beaches, a group of women is collecting seaweed. They are members of the Women in Action and Solidarity Organisation (WASO), a non-profit supporting vulnerable women and girls in Seychelles. In 2020, WASO received a grant from the Blue Grants Fund for a seaweed composting project that employs these women in a cooperative enterprise. There are eight women in total, and they work in pairs during the week. On Fridays, they come together to do the composting and tend to the maturing material. Once the compost is ready, the women take their produce to the market in Victoria to sell.
Before the project began, the community saw little value in seaweed: beach cleaners either disposed of it or left it right there on the beach, much to the displeasure of tourists. Yet, seaweed is a largely untapped resource with many possible uses, and other countries have already twigged on its potential. For example, in Zanzibar, a 2018 UN Food and Agriculture report found that seaweed farming has generated up to US$8 million per year, mostly from harvesting red seaweed to produce carrageenan, an emulsifying agent used in food, pharmaceutical and beauty products.
The seaweed collected on Mahé, however, is used predominantly to make compost or fertilizer. Compost is needed for home gardens and agricultural projects and is in short supply in Seychelles. Although home organic waste does the job, there just isn’t enough of it to meet the increasing demand, so the seaweed fertilizer is a sell-out.
To produce the fertilizer, the WASO team alternates layers of seaweed with dry leaves, grass and soil and lets the compost mature for several months, turning it over occasionally to let in oxygen and promote decay. To check the readiness of the fertilizer, a stick is inserted in the middle of the compost pile. If the stick and the bottom are cold when pulled, then the compost is not ready, and it is left to mature a little longer until the stick comes out warm.
The project is an example of a circular economy, whereby a natural, sustainable resource can be harvested and used to support the Seychellois community in growing their own food. But its benefits go far beyond.
A recent study indicated that 12 per cent of the population of Seychelles is multi-dimensionally poor and is experiencing deprivation related to the standard of living, education, health and employment. By involving mostly disadvantaged employees, the project helps alleviate the socioeconomic difficulties prevalent in Seychelles, as employees are given an opportunity to develop their entrepreneurial skills and be financially independent.
The project also benefits women by creating a sense of community and purpose. For example, Elizabeth, one of the WASO women, explains that she did not have much to do before the project, especially after she retired. She describes the project as giving her a “joie de vivre”, and says that she looks forward to every Monday and Thursday to come to work.
Benjamin Vel, a project co-lead, shares his hope that the ladies feel inspired to ‘form a company or cooperative, expanding their project so that it becomes a large enterprise and reaches other islands.’
Project Application Form: CONCEPT NOTE BLUE ECONOMY RECYCLING
Investing in Women
Hear the stories from the women benefiting from this initiative.