You may think it strange that WWF cares about how women selling fish in the markets in Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea spend their money. But we do. We do because we believe in a future where people live in harmony with nature, both here at home and abroad.
Growing population pressures in the South West Pacific are leading to the over-exploitation of marine resources, and the fall-out is increased food insecurity and poverty. In partnership with communities in Solomon Islands and PNG, WWF is helping women to improve their financial know-how and to consider new ways to invest their family's earnings. And it's paying dividends for the families as well as the fisheries they rely upon.
Our model encourages women to form ‘savings clubs’ and gives them access to micro-loans to set up suitable financial, social and environmentally sustainable businesses. Improving their economic situation enables families to reduce their reliance on catching fish, which in turn eases pressures on the heavily exploited reefs.
So far we've helped to establish seven clubs on Ghizo Island, with 725 members launching 30 small businesses. In PNG, the 150 members of 15 newly formed Community-Based Organisations now have access to micro-loans to improve their lives. In time, we're confident of seeing improvements to their valuable reef systems, too.
- For a person to open a bank savings account in PNG, they're required to have references from an employer, a doctor, a local councillor and a lawyer. The Community-Based Organisations we help to establish enable village people to save and access micro-loans – something they would not ordinarily be able to do.
WWF-Australia is very pleased to be working with the Australian Government and John West to support this project.