One of the major problems facing the third world countries is the lack of alternative livelihood options, especially for those who depend upon marine and coastal resources in a destructive manner. In recognition of the fact that a sustainable turtle conservation cannot meet its desired expectations without paying attention to the issues and sustainable livelihoods of the coastal recourse dependant poor communities, the TCP has initiated a series of programmes to provide alternative income to coastal community members within the projected areas, who depend on marine and coastal resources in a destructive manner.
Likewise, one of the sole aims of the TCP is to seek ways of providing alternative income generation activities for those who are inextricably linked with the coastal resources as a source of their income, while resuming necessary steps to ensure a sustainable conservation of the marine turtles together with other important coastal ecosystems.
These programmes entail different types of activities such as,
- Women Batik Group
- Women Sewing Group
- Women Coir/coir mat group
- Turtle Nest Protectors
- Tourist Guides
- Research Assistants
- Ornamental fish breeding Group
- Cement brick making Group
- Fishing gear and fishing vessels
- Crab pods
- Maintenance of Mangrove and coastal plant nurseries
TCP has and is being carried out all these activities where its projects are implemented, like Kosgoda, Rekawa, Kalpitiya and so forth.
Women Batik Group
In creating women batik groups, TCP first select the interested women group and assist them with necessary training on batik production. This has enabled the batik group to improve their knowledge on many areas of the batik production and ultimately develop it into a self employment. TCP is responsible in provision of necessary equipments and materials to proceed with the activity, finding of local markets and sometimes the TCP itself purchase the finished products. If the group needed any financial assistants, it can be fulfilled through the revolving fund schemes initiated in community based organizations (CBOs).
Women Sewing Group
As in the above the TCP select about 20 to 30 women who are interested in tailoring and above all conduct training programmes on tailoring to the selected group of women. Sewing machines and other required raw materials like clothes, threads, bristol boards, desks are provided to either the top ten performants during the training period or through CBOs of the area.
Generally the training period is about 6 months and during this training the participants are paid a small incentive of about 300 rupees including refreshment on monthly basis. Participants who have successfully completed the training are in a position to convert their knowledge into a self -earning to help their families.
Women Coir group
In selecting the women coir group too, TCP follows the same procedure as in the batik and sewing groups. Training programmes are conducted to interested women to produce creatively designed coir products such as floor mats, wall hangers, ornaments and other various products utilizing different techniques of colour mixing. Provision of necessary equipments, raw materials, machines, funds (through revolving fund scheme) and also TCP seeks for markets to sell their products since the market for coir comes in one period per year. In some instances, the TCP would select some groups and help them to start a career in mat production by providing them with necessary raw materials.
Turtle Nest Protectors
The most prestigious conservation activity of the TCP is the in-situ turtle nest protection. In order to facilitate and attain a sustainable conservation of the marine turtle and their habitats, TCP has taken necessary measures to employ former egg poachers as nest protectors (NPs). These nest protectors are given training on nest protection and management. NPs are responsible for 24 hour beach patrolling to protect the nests from being predated by human (collection of the marine turtle eggs) and non-human activities. As a result of employing these people as nest protectors, they themselves are able to make their living and support their families and on the other hand TCP is able to successfully continue the in-situ nest protection programme. These former egg poachers have been very much motivated by their new title and they have been able to face the society as responsible people.
For instance, in Rekawa TCP employed 20 community members as turtle nest protectors while in Kosgoda 15 community members are engaged as nest protectors.
As a component of the educational and awareness programmes that are convened by the TCP, building of primary schools takes a vital aspect.
TCP trained locals as ‘tourist guides’ and provided a certificate and Government license from Sri Lanka Tourist Board. Currently TCP are dependent on the “Turtle Night Watch” nature tourism programme, which was conducted in Rekawa. The appointed tourist guides provide their service for the tourists who visit the TCP’s “Turtle Night Watch” in Kosgoda, thereby make their income.
Some of the local community members are trained in research and conservation techniques and employed them as Research Assistants to facilitate the collection of biometric data of the nesting turtles. These, research assistants play an active part of the project. Research assistants or the research offices (RSs) regularly engage in patrolling the beach throughout the day and the night is dedicated for the collection of data.
Cement Brick Making Programme
To help improve the standard of living among deprived community members, TCP purchase and distribute cement brick making machines to those who needed or requested those. The installation of these machines is completed by the TCP. In some occasions the TCP either handover these machines to the members of the CBOs on a revolving fund scheme or CBOs maintain the machines and employ community members to use them.
Distribution of Fishing Gear and Fishing Vessels
Most of the community members of the TCP project areas make their living through fishing. But some of the fishermen have to rent vessels for fishing and this has not enabled them to better their earnings. Hence, TCP is actively engaged in purchasing fishing vessels (teppam) and distributing them amongst the member fishermen of CBOs. The CBO then distribute the vessels among their members as a loan. Members must pay this back in instalments. When all the instalments are completed, the CBO will purchase another vessel, to be distributed to another member. Over time, all members will privately own a fishing vessel, which will lead to an increase in income from fishing.
To promote economic and social development of the community members who are economically deprived of, by helping and encouraging the community members to engage in preferential employment (environmental friendly), the TCP produces crab-farming pods in Puttlam lagoon. Those pods are given to CBOs and members of these CBOs are trained on crab farming.
This has proved a great success. Besides providing a source of income, it has enabled community members to become empowered through training and also able to cement the good relationship between the community and the environment.
Maintenance of Mangroves and Coastal Plant Nurseries
Apart from taking the measures to conserve turtles, the TCP also engage in promoting the other coastal habitats. Among these, the propagation of the mangroves and other coastal plants where it is necessary takes an important part. All the plants are firstly maintained in nurseries. Community members are appointed to maintain these nurseries and a considerable incentive is paid for the maintainers.
Ornamental Fish Breeding Programme in Rekawa
As a source of provision of an alternative income for community members in Rekawa, the TCP is implementing an ornamental fish breeding programme. Under this project, the interested community members are selected and they are provided with training on fish breeding, constructing and arraigning of fish tanks. The sole aim of this programme is to make the community members get involved in the local and foreign markets (exporting the fish) and thereby to own a sustainable income for their living.