Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Empowering Women in Seaweed Mariculture Sector

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Press Release – Belmopan, Belize – 06 March 2023 – The British High Commission in Belmopan has awarded a grant to the Belize Women’s Seaweed Farmers Association (BWSFA) for the implementation of the project “Empowering BWSFA for Sustainable and Equitable Seaweed Mariculture Growth and Market Presence.” The project aims to empower BWSFA members through targeted training as skilled boat captains, support sustainable expansion of the BWSFA’s seaweed farms, and promote high-quality seaweed products grown and produced from BWSFA seaweed farms in the waters off southern Belize.

The £25,000 grant is part of a pilot program to support the design and implementation of the Blue Social Challenge Fund (BSCF) in Belize and across the Caribbean region. Grants have also been awarded to pilot projects in Guyana. The Pilot Phase ends on 31 March 2024, following which the lessons learned will be applied to the full launch of the Fund later this year.

The Blue Social Challenge Fund (BSCF) is funded under the UK Government’s Sustainable Blue Economies (SBE) Programme, which aims to enhance the resilience of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and their economies to the impacts of climate change and economic shocks, including through better ocean management, poverty reduction/improved livelihoods and greater use of nature-based solutions.

BWSFA, established in 2019 in Placencia, is a membership-based organisation of women, men, and youth with roles across various aspects of the seaweed value chain, from growing and farming to processing, packaging, and selling seaweed. Its farms in southern Belize, off Placencia, support the sustainable growth of Belize’s nascent seaweed mariculture industry. BSWFA’s implementation of this project focuses on fostering gender-transformative and environmentally sustainable economic development in coastal communities by enhancing local capacity, refining seaweed farming practices, and ensuring local market access for seaweed products.

British High Commissioner Nicole Davison said, “We recognise Belize’s commitment and those of its communities to sustainably develop Belize’s blue economy. Through this BSCF pilot project we are happy to support gender equity, empowering women to help grow the seaweed mariculture sector and develop new skills. I look forward to our continued partnership in initiatives to support building climate resilience in Belize.”

Jamila Gold, President of BWSFA, said, “In our Blue space, women are the catalysts for change, breaking traditional norms and empowering entire communities. The Belize Women’s Seaweed Farmers Association has come a long way from merely desiring involvement. With each skill honed and every opportunity embraced, we foster not only the growth of seaweed but also a Belize where equality and prosperity flourish. Together, we chart a course where every individual’s contribution is valued, breaking down barriers and fostering inclusive growth for all.”

Through SBE’s Blue Social Challenge Fund, the UK seeks to work with organisations and communities in SIDS on small-scale projects that improve climate resilience and livelihoods for vulnerable communities who rely on the blue economy or ocean-based industries. The outcome of the Blue Social Challenge Fund (BSCF) is that vulnerable communities typically at risk of being left behind have equitable access benefits of a growing national Blue Economy sector. The BSCF delivers against the UK Blue Planet Fund (BPF) priority areas. This includes small-scale and artisanal fisheries, sustainable aquaculture, critical marine habitat and coastal resilience, marine protected areas, illegal unregulated and unreported fishing, marine pollution, and international fisheries.

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