Status: Seeking funding
Date: April 2019 – March 2022
Target population: Local female weavers surrounding the reed beds in Sainte Luce
Location: Sainte Luce, Anosy region, southeast Madagascar
Project partners: Weavers Association, CoBa (forest management committee)
Madagascar has been fighting a losing battle against chronic poverty; it is the only country in the world whose real per capita income declined between 1960 and 2010 without experiencing civil wars or violent conflict. Women are particularly adversely affected by Madagascar’s poverty. Deeply entrenched cultural expectations and domestic responsibilities limit women’s opportunities to generate income themselves.
Of the limited livelihood options available to women, weaving mahampy – a locally sourced reed that grows in nearby wetlands – is one of them. The sale of traditional 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. Moreover, a lack of knowledge and skills, and informal welfare systems result in weavers being unequipped to increase their income, in turn impacting their ability to pay for nutritious food, schooling, or life-saving medicine, which is traditionally the responsibility of women.
Project Mahampy aims to improve the livelihoods of women in rural Madagascar by increasing the income received through reed weaving, a traditional occupation. The project aims to improve access to markets, create larger profit margins, and increase the weavers’ supplier power while also protecting the backward supply chain by establishing a reed bed conservation strategy.
Monitoring and evaluation frameworks will adaptively inform the project as it evolves, and tackle socio-economic and environmental issues in tandem. The project will firstly prioritise socio-economic and biophysical assessment to ensure a full understanding of the practical, economic, and biological constraints and opportunities of the mahampy supply and value chains. Such an approach will identify opportunities for trading traditional mahampy products, gaps in the market, conservation strategies and capacity building priorities amongst the weavers.
The creation of a Weavers’ Association will support the active collaboration of the weavers in the project, helping to cultivate the technical skills and supplier power necessary to secure their livelihood long-term. Providing technical and general skills training will empower the weavers to capitalise on opportunities for improving their 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.