Project Mahampy is working in rural Madagascar to increase income for female traditional weavers, and sustainable resource management of the mahampy reed beds.
Women are particularly affected by Madagascar’s poverty, deeply entrenched cultural expectations and domestic responsibilities which limit women’s opportunities to generate income themselves. Of the livelihood options available to women, weaving mahampy – a locally sourced reed that grows in nearby wetlands – is one of them and the sale of mahampy products provides a small but vital income for households that typically rely on subsistence fishing and farming.
However, mahampy weaving as a livelihood has a number of issues, including low return on investment, poor access to markets, the inconsistency of sales, and low supplier power.
Weaving is a labour-intensive activity, with a single mat taking around two days to make and selling for as little as 4,000 MGA ($1.14)
The metaphor the ‘mat’ appears in some Malagasy proverbs; for example ‘tsihibelambana ny olona’, which literally means ‘people constitute a great, broad mat’, refers to the interconnectedness of all humanity, both people living in the present as well as in the past (ancestors).
We aim to improve the livelihoods of women in rural Madagascar by increasing the income received through reed weaving, a traditional occupation.
As well as initial assessments to help us identify constraints and opportunities, the project will improve access to markets, create larger profit margins and build capacity through the creation of a Weavers’ Association. The association with empower weavers with training, technical skills, and greater opportunities for income generation. Participatory monitoring of reed beds and the implementation of a conservation plan will ensure the sustainability of mahampy resources beyond the duration of the project.