» Enabling Women’s Economic Empowerment in Marginalized Fishing Communities: A Success Story in the Red Sea and ...
30.07.2018 - Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

Enabling Women’s Economic Empowerment in Marginalized Fishing Communities: A Success Story in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden Region

© Maher Amer: Handing Over Bakery Equipment at Dungonab and Mukawwar Island Marine National Park, Sudan.

The Red Sea and Gulf of Aden Strategic Ecosystem Management (SEM) project development objective is to “improve management of selected marine protected areas by local communities’ participation and strengthen information sharing between PERSGA member countries”. Some of the project key interventions support diversification of livelihood options and participatory approach in management of living marine resources. These are undertaken at selected MPAs Pilot Sites, including Wadi el Gemal National Park (WGNP) in Egypt, and Dungonab Bay-Mukkawar Island Marine National Park in Sudan (DMMNP).

The local communities depend mainly on fishery and pastoralism for livelihood, which face serious threats due to land degradation and decline of fish stocks, so the majority lives in poverty. However, both MPAs are endowed with rich marine biodiversity that characterizes the Red Sea. Given its uniqueness, DMMNP has been inscribed as World Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2016, an achievement reached through national efforts by Sudan supported by the PERSGA and SEM interventions. Efforts to inscribe WGNP as a Natural Heritage were also triggered by the project, which will increase attraction of the two national parks as tourism destinations.

Currently, local community involvement in the tourism business and their benefits are marginal. Women in particular have limited role, therefore the SEM project puts special emphasis to support their income generation and empowerment at the two MPA Pilot Sites. Among several alternative livelihood options discussed in consultation with the local community, the women at WGNP gave priority to develop production of traditional handicrafts and textile products as a business activity. At DMMNP, the women gave priority to production of bakeries and rearing dairy goats.

Several elements contributed to success of the subprojects, but the most significant were the strong government endorsement, and the project partnership with community grassroots organizations and NGOs. The SEM project provided technical assessment, equipment and seed inputs to establish business, and training of beneficiaries. The governments provided Women’s Centers amenities, supervision and facilitation of work, high level endorsement and pledges to affiliate subprojects in umbrella National Programs, which is important for their sustainability.

The NGOs and women societies at the MPAs participate in training of beneficiaries and management of the subprojects, which are owned by the women societies themselves. The intervention was highly successful in supporting women contribution to household income in general and income of female headed households in particular. As alternative livelihoods, they will also reduce pressure on living marine resources and strengthen resilience of the highly vulnerable community of the MPAs. Both subprojects are fully operating since end 2017.

SEM Project MPA Pilot Sites for Alternative Livelihoods Demo Activities

Wadi el Gemal National Park (WGNP): is a national park in Egypt. It covers an area of 7,450 Km2, including 4,770 Km2 of land and 2,100 Km2 of marine space. The coastal area features coral reefs with 450 species of coral and over 1200 species of fish. Approximately 17% of the marine life is native to the Red Sea. It also includes five islands, which are breeding sites for 13 bird species. Local sea grass is an important source of food for the endangered dugong and green turtle. The inland area is home to many animals, including the gazelles and the Nubian Ibex. The land part of the park includes sites of prehistoric rock art, as well as Ptolemaic and Roman ruins.

Dungonab Bay-Mukkawar Island Marine National Park (DMMNP): is a national park in Sudan. It covers an area of 2800 km2, including 800 km2 of coastal land and 2000 km2 of marine space. The coastline in the MPA is over 200 km. The marine water part of the MPA supports a large complex of reefs and considerably rich marine biodiversity with remarkable endemic species. Given its significance and uniqueness, DMMNP together with the nearby Sanganeeb Atoll National Park were inscribed as World Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2016.


This story was written for GEF IW:LEARN, a global project funded by the GEF, implemented by UNDP and UN Environment, and executed by IOC-UNESCO. The original article can be found here. For more information on GEF IW:LEARN visit the website (iwlearn.net) or contact the project manager, Mr. Mish Hamid (mish(at)iwlearn.org).

<- Back to: All news
Back to top