GIZ CATS supported the GEF Small Grants Programme's project in Praslin by financing solar energy equipment (25.000US$) for the seamoss processing plant in order to subsitute fossil fuel and thus to reduce its carbon footprint. The project aims to grow and diversify a community seamoss enterprise to a sustainable national industry with export capacity in the village of Praslin, Saint Lucia. That way it targets poverty reduction in the community and environmental protection, including the biodiversity of the Praslin Bay.
Praslin is located in the area with the second highest level of poverty in Saint Lucia. Prior to the decline of the banana industry most of the community members were either banana farmers or paid farm workers. Many of the farms have since been abandoned. Consequently the level of unemployment has been increasing significantly over the years.
The quality of water in the Praslin Bay has been compromised due to the agricultural activities in the community. This has a negative impact on both the biodiversity of the bay and the health of the users of the bay. This project is intended to address the problem without depriving community members of livelihood, by offering the community, and empowering them to sustain an environmentally friendly and more viable alternative to their current agronomic practices.
The Praslin Seamoss Farmers Association PSFA proposed to address the environmental issues by
- Establishing an environmental monitoring system to determine the level of pollutants in the bay so that necessary measures can be taken to mitigate the problem;
- Offering a public awareness and education programme to persuade the community to take appropriate action to reduce the level of pollutants in the bay;
- Using solar energy instead of fossil fuel to run the seamoss processing plant in order to reduce its carbon footprint;
- Offering as an alternative to agriculture, the cultivation of seamoss, which has the dual benefit of extracting excess nitrates and phosphates from the bay and serving as a source of income;
- Producing seamoss based fertilizers and insecticides as an environmentally friendly alternative to the toxic agrochemicals currently used in the community;