The TDA Sustainable Livelihoods Program

The success of the Tetepare project lies in its ability to provide real benefits to its communities. One of our key focus areas is helping our members develop sustainable livelihoods.

Our first sustainable livelihood venture was setting up the successful ecolodge on Tetepare Island, where visitors from around the world come to experience the pristine beauty and unique wildlife of Tetepare. The ecolodge employs local people as guides, cooks and hospitality workers and is also a source of pride for our TDA communities. Visitor numbers are growing each year, providing more job opportunities for local people.

We also run a ngali nut program, buying nuts from women in villages on nearby Rendova Island, and then shipping the nuts to a buyer in Honiara. The program aims to empower women in income generation.

We have developed a sustainable livelihoods strategy and are working to create more livelihood opportunities for TDA communities across the Western Province, through initiatives such providing training and equipment for communities to produce coconut oil, distributing drum ovens to communities wishing to set up village bakeries, assisting local carvers and artisans to find markets for their art works, and vegetable seed saving workshops and the distribution of high-quality vegetable seeds to local market gardeners.

Our Sustainable Livelihoods Manager is further developing TDA’s sustainable livelihoods strategy and implementing livelihoods projects in TDA communities throughout the Western Province.

EXAMPLES OF LIVELIHOOD ACTIVITIES

TDA’s Sustainable Livelihoods team is piloting a financial literacy program for Tetepare descendants in the remote village of Baniata, on Rendova Island. With the aim of building financial confidence and independence, participatory workshops are being run that cover topics such as household cash management, budgeting, savings, and basic business management. Village participants are learning how they can work towards their own goals such as saving for school fees for their children, or buying their own sewing machines or agricultural equipment to start or improve small businesses. There has been a particular focus on women’s involvement in these programs, as it is widely recognised that an improvement in women’s ability to manage their finances directly improves the well-being of their families.

To complement the financial literacy workshops, TDA has also facilitated the set-up of a women’s village savings club. A group of 10 women have come together and set up their own savings club constitution which encompasses a community social fund as well as individual savings accounts for each member. The women have called the club Tirongo Erahatu (Tirongo Women’s Saving Club), and are planning to use their combined savings to buy a small boat engine to be able to market their goods in Munda, the closest business centre, and offer transport services to their community.

The program has been made possible by a micro-grant from the Australian Volunteers International (AVI) Volunteer Assignment Support Fund. The materials used for the program have been adapted from a curriculum developed by World Education Australia Limited (WEAL). Tetepare Descendants’ Association is grateful to both organisations for their assistance in this program.

Through its Sustainable Livelihoods program, TDA provided 12 member descendants on the island of Kolombangara with equipment and training to start or expand micro-enterprises such as family bakeries, sewing businesses, market gardens and piggeries.

TDA has recently partnered with the Solomon Islands NGO, Live and Learn Environmental Education (www.livelearn.org), to enable closer and more effective collaboration on livelihood programs on Rendova island. Programs include practical workshops on how to use local coconut oil as a substitute for kerosene, or how villagers can make their own soap, saving their money for other more forward-looking investments, such as school fees for Descendant children.

TDA has also relaunched its handicraft market at Tetepare Ecolodge, buying locally hand-woven baskets, mats and fans along with traditional wooden carvings from villagers on Rendova. Buy some handicrafts when you visit Tetepare and help support local Descendant communities!

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