Within the broad range of all lemur conservation activities that GERP conducts across Madagascar, we at the GERP – Manombo team actively work to promote sustainable projects that protect local biodiversity. In this blog, we’ll be showcasing the actions the team made that reinforce local community livelihoods through an income-generating project that alleviates negative pressures on Manombo forest. Beginning in March 2018, GERP members organized local women who would benefit from participating in weaving workshops that build skills on producing and selling handmade products outside the nearby protected area. Through these sustainable activities, they lead their friends to save lemurs as well as raise awareness for other local communities surrounding Manombo forest.
Women play an important role in the local community in Manombo, acting as caretakers of households and children. Unfortunately, these women are not highly-valued members of society in the area. For example, most decision-making is done by men, who are also the primary earners and financial managers. As a result, the GERP – Manombo team targeted these women as both capacity building beneficiaries and potential agents for positive behavior change. We currently provide weaving trainings for two women’s associations, comprising over 60 members in total. Before working with us, most of the participants had already practiced basic traditional weaving. At this stage we have orchestrated two capacity-building trainings in which the participants learned how to weave, color and properly dry reeds. Two different variations of weaving patterns were taught to them. Even though most of the women are illiterate, they are clever and motivated to skillfully complete every task placed before them.
As a result of the first training which lasted 3 days in March, the women’s association produced 20 woven goods, including 12 simple mats, 2 decorated mats with writing, and 6 woven baskets. All of the participants were able to produce two samples of the different weaving models after the training. Afterwards, the women were eager to explore pathways to sell their products and asked many questions about next steps, which was covered the following workshop.
For the second training in April, which also lasted three days, the focus was on reinforcing high-quality production for each woven product as well as basic financial management. The association produced over 9 woven baskets, 7 simple mats, and 7 decorated mats in April. It is very important that all of the members of the associations have the knowledge to manage their finished products because currently they require the collaboration with GERP to find outlets for selling their products. In time, however, they will be completely self-sustaining.
If you are interested in supporting the women in Manombo and aiding lemur conservation, you can purchase their mats and baskets by sending a message to GERP at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling at +261 22 660 48 / +261 34 43 133 30.