It is difficult for the small farmers and fishermen on the outskirts of the rainforest to provide food on the table. Their fish disappear due to pollution, and their agricultural lands and the forests where they gather food are seized by the government and zoned for industry. The poor residents of the villages become easy to engage in illegal activities such as logging and mining even though it worsens both their own and the orangutans’ situation.
Improved income opportunities
Save the Orangutan and the local partner support the villagers in establishing improved income opportunities. Improved income opportunities will minimize illegal activities, which destroy nature. At the same time the survival of the orangutan is linked to increased livelihood.
Redundant middle men
When villagers lack market knowledge, they easily fall into the hands of middlemen. With the aid of information, exchange of experience and savings and loans groups, the middlemen become redundant. The farmers get much more money for their rubber, rattan and food at the markets when they do not have to pay off high-interest loans to middlemen and can sell their goods directly to the end user.
Based on the existing
In our work to create higher and more sustainable income, we always take account of the way the villagers already make a living and of the potential in the village. If the villagers fish, we support them in making fish farms to increase the fish stock or in creating higher profits on the sale of fish. This may require that the fish are processed in a new way or that the fishermen get more familiarized with the market for fish.
Tools for new income sources
There is a tendency that an entire village support themselves in the same way. If the rubber harvest is poor, the disaster therefore hits the whole village. For that reason, Save the Orangutan’s project is also about providing the villages with tools to diversify their income sources. Mushroom production is an example of a new source of income for which there are both a market and a basis in many villages.
Due to lack of infrastructure and lack of resources, there is no natural exchange of experiences between villages. We organise study visits so residents can see how others have improved their income. If they can see that a fish farm on dry land away from the polluted river works in another village, they more easily dare to invest in one themselves.
Exchange of experience
Save the Orangutan has taken part in establishing village groups and women’s groups. The groups meet to exchange experiences on for instance crops, processing and market conditions. It is easier to resist both the vagaries of nature and expensive middlemen when you are backed by others, and it is easier to negotiate a good price when you know how much others are getting for their goods.
Savings and loans groups
Save the Orangutan and the local partner, BOS, have had great success in establishing savings and loans groups in villages. Different forms have been tested, but the most effective savings and loans groups are found in village Timpah in the Mawas area. Here the interested people pay to the spokesperson every month, and every month they decide together which two to three persons shall be allowed to borrow the total sum at a low interest rate. Even small loans can make a big difference to the people in the village who would like to buy an assortment for a shop, tools or cattle.
Small loans make big difference
With the help of small loans, Mrs. Mika has been
able to increase the turnover of her kiosk by 350 % in just two years. Her
husband’s income isn’t stable, and the loan has therefore made a big difference
to the family’s economy.