WCS Fiji

Local Livelihoods

Supporting rural women, sustainable livelihoods and the conservation ofcultural heritage

In Fiji, people and wildlife are inextricably bound together in arelationship based on tradition and necessity. This critical linkage is centralto WCS’ Fiji Program, which supports ecosystem-based management in the provinceof Bua on the island of Vanua Levu. This work is informed by extensivescientific assessments as well as incorporating local traditional knowledgewithin an adaptive management approach. The aim is to enable effective conservationwhilst strengthening the culture and livelihoods of communities to ensure theirhealth, prosperity and resilience.

With increasing demand for money, rural communities’ reliance on limitedincome streams (such as farming or fishing) often leads to unsustainableexploitation of their natural resources.  WCS is supporting environmentally-friendlybusinesses to help diversify and enhance communities’ income streams. 

Several alternative livelihood projects were identified as having potentialin this regard. These community-based initiatives were in the formative stages,managed by rural women and involved the production and sale of:

·        virgin coconut oil;

·        honey; and

·        kuta mats (traditionally woven by women in BuaProvince).

This project has sought to empower the women to establish and grow theirbusinesses, generate and invest income in community projects and develop theirinput in local conservation management.

Expert tutor Edith Whippy demonstrates. Photo © Ged Acton, WCS
Ladies get started on their mats in Valeni village, Wailevu district in the Province of Cakaudrove. Photo © Ged Acton, WCS 
 Softening the kuta before weaving. Photo © Ged Acton, WCS

A more experienced weaver from Daria (in Wainunu), ‘Aunty Bui’, was nominated as a team leader. Photo © Ged Acton, WCS
Ladies from Wainunu and Kubulau districts in Bua during a weaving workshop in Namalata © Ged Acton, WCS
A round kuta mat in production © Ged Acton, WCS
Women presented at a peer-support workshop, developing their confidence as communicators © Akanisi Caginitoba, WCS
Large round kuta mats are a prestigious gift in Fijian custom © Akanisi Caginitoba, WCS

WCS Fiji office (00679) 3315174 or infofiji@wcs.org