A launching ceremony for the “Empowering Coastal Communities through Native Oyster Aquaculture” project was held on 16 March 2022 at Petit Barachois, Poudre d’Or. The event was organized by Ocean Connect with the support of the United Nations Development Programme Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (UNDP GEF-SGP) and the Ministry Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping.
Funded by the UNDP GEF SGP, the project aims to promote food security and enhance living standards in coastal communities by training 15 women oyster fishers from the North East region of Mauritius. The training programme will be delivered by the NGO Ocean Connect and will introduce the participants to the procedures involved in the production of edible native oysters through theory and practice sessions over 18 months.
In his welcome speech, Mr. Khemraj Persand, President of Ocean Connect, explained that aquaculture is one of the most promising sectors of the national economy and has the potential to generate income and create jobs, especially for coastal communities. He stated that “aquaculture is emerging as an important solution, and that the challenge is to make this growth more inclusive and sustainable.”
The Honourable S. Maudhoo, Minister of Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping explained that “food security is an important issue on both the Ministry’s and UNDP’s agenda”. He announced that oyster collection around the island will soon be recognized as an economic activity, and that those operating in this field will therefore be able to benefit from the same schemes available to registered fishers.
Ms. Amanda Serumaga, UNDP Resident Representative for Mauritius and Seychelles, highlighted that empowering women in entrepreneurial and income generating skills can generate substantial returns for households and communities. She also emphasized that “capacity development is instrumental to fight social exclusion, poverty, unemployment, gender inequality and violence.”
This ceremony marks the official launch of the first of 7 projects approved to date for mainland Mauritius under GEF Operational Phase 7 by the UNDP Small Grants Programme, amounting to Rs 14,9 M. Due consideration has been given while selecting the projects to support livelihood options for Mauritius so as to address the socio-economic repercussions of the MV Wakashio Oil spill and the pandemic on the island.
The project aligns with SDGs 1 - No Poverty, 2 – Zero Hunger, 5 - Gender Equality, 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth, 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production, 13 – Climate Action, and 14 – Life Below water