Speech of Ms. Amanda Serumaga during the graduation ceremony for beneficiaries of the alternative livelihood project implemented by Eco-Sud and Signature of the Responsible Party Agreement between Eco-Sud and UNDP for the Coral Restoration project

October 11, 2021

Photo: @UNDPMauritius

08 October 2021

Mr. Sebastien Sauvage, CEO, Eco-Sud

Board Members of Eco-Sud

Beneficiaries and Guests,

I am pleased join you in celebrating the graduation ceremony for the beneficiaries of the ‘Alternative Livelihood’ project implemented by Eco-Sud and supported by the UNDP and on the same occasion, sign a new Responsible Party Agreement with Eco- Sud for the implementation of a very important and strategic project on coral reef restoration.

The overall mandate of UNDP is to end poverty, build democratic governance, rule of law, and inclusive institutions. We advocate for change, and connect countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. In Mauritius, UNDP has been supporting and supplementing national efforts aimed at reducing poverty in all its forms, accelerating the transition to sustainable development, and making sure national institutions and communities are able to withstand crises and shocks.

As part of the inclusive and community led drive towards sustainability and with the financial support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) under the Mainstreaming Biodiversity project, the Alternative Livelihoods Project was formulated with the objective of conserving the unique marine biodiversity and supporting the livelihoods of the coastal communities residing near and within the Blue Bay Marine Park.

As we all know, the proclamation of the Blue Bay Marine Park was undertaken only after negotiation with the fishing community in the region and they were compensated for the loss of their livelihood activities.

Some of these fishers were able to use the marine park as a base for ecotourism activities with sightseeing on glass bottom boats. Others were not as successful as they did not have access to the proper inputs and training to embark on other livelihood activities.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Eco-Sud was the first NGO in Mauritius to associate with the Mainstreaming Biodiversity project to implement the Alternative Livelihood project in the south-east of Mauritius starting August 2020.

As you all know, the communities in the south-east of Mauritius recently have had to two crises. First, the Covid-19 pandemic halted all socio-economic activities leading to loss of livelihoods. Then the Wakashio oils spill impacted the communities as well as the marine and coastal environment compounding their challenges.

Following active engagement with communities, the Alternative livelihood project was successfully completed in July 2021.

I take this opportunity to commend Eco-Sud for the adaptive approach used during the covid and oil spill events whereby all sea activities were restricted. Indeed, Eco-Sud included off-sea activities and trained the beneficiaries on agroecology and vocational training as well as in business skills and entrepreneurship. The beneficiaries were provided with the basic know-how of implementing and running their own businesses and have completed job placement.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I understand 44 beneficiaries will be awarded a certificate for successfully completing the training. I am convinced that the knowledge and practical experience you have acquired through the programme will improve your employment prospects. I congratulate all the beneficiaries for their hard work.

Ladies and gentlemen,

UNDP’s commitment to empower local communities in sustainable development initiatives however does not stop here. We have the pleasure to announce that, through a competitive procurement process, the Eco-Sud has been selected to be one of the Activity Partners to work under the UNDP/Adaptation Fund ‘Restoring Marine Ecosystem Services by Rehabilitating Coral Reefs to Meet a Changing Climate Future’ project.

Today we are signing another Responsible Party Agreement with Eco-Sud for a grant amount of USD 550,000 for Coral Restoration activities for the next 5 years. These activities are also co-financed from the UNDP and GEF Mainstreaming Biodiversity project.

Under this agreement, the Eco-Sud will engage and train at least 40 community members in the south-east region and train at least 250 stakeholders, including the hotel sector all around the island, in the following areas:

  • Construction of nurseries

  • Coral plantation techniques

  • Establishing, monitoring and maintaining coral nurseries in the ocean

  • Transplantation of corals

  • Monitoring and maintenance of restoration sites

At the end of 5 years, with Eco-Sud, we target to transplant and restore at least 1.5 hectares of corals in the Blue Bay Marine Park.

In parallel with this project, we have currently advertised another Call for Proposal to select another NGO to work in this region in coral restoration activities, along with the Eco-Sud.

The implementation of coral restoration activities under the Mainstreaming Biodiversity and Coral Restoration projects will ultimately contribute to the achievement of SDGs 3, 13, 14 and 15 through the improvement of livelihoods in coastal communities, protection of the tourism industry and enhancement of the value and sustainability of our coral reef ecosystems. With all these efforts deployed by UNDP, we hope that you all become strong advocates for the conservation of the unique marine ecosystems that this region is blessed with.

I thank all the stakeholders present today who have contributed in making this initiative a success and I am grateful to Eco-Sud for inviting me to address you.

Thank you for your kind attention. 

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