Meet Macik Bellong, a Bajau Laut woman who is
very active in turtle conservation and handicraft
making on Omadal Island.
The Bajau Laut women in Sabah, East Malaysia, have a long tradition of weaving pandanus or mengkuang leaves found on the island. In 2010, with the support of WWF-Malaysia, a group of local women came together to establish the Women’s Association of Pulau Omadal or
Wanita Pulau Omadal (WAPO), a social enterprise
that enabled the women to supplement
their household income and preserve their traditional culture.
In addition to making and selling handicrafts, these women champion marine conservation by conducting environmental education and awareness activities on plastic waste pollution and organise beach clean-ups initiatives.
Even before the pandemic, coastal districts like Omadal Island made some of the highest numbers of poorest households in Malaysia. More than 5,000 families surrounding the coastal areas, just like Macik Bellong, relied on the ocean to source their livelihood.
Their social enterprises thrived through eco-tourism
initiatives. The complete and abrupt shut-down of these activities over the past 2 years have left them struggling with food insecurity, increased health risks and worst – it exacerbates their vulnerabilities to other social and environmental stressors such including illegal or unregulated fishing methods.
With fisheries declining and food security threatened, these communities need help to make ends meet for their families.
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What is WWF doing?
WWF-Malaysia works with coastal communities like Macik Bellong to build entrepreneurship and financial skills, improve their livelihoods and develop low-impact business opportunities to reduce pressure on coastal ecosystems and deliver long-term sustainable solutions. WWF-Malaysia also facilitates community patrolling workshops and citizen science biological monitoring training to strengthen the community’s participation and involvement in conservation efforts.
Here are some of the milestones we’ve reached through our community-led conservation efforts:
Households in Pulau Omadal received food aid relief during MCO
Reduction in destructive blast fishing activities in surrounding areas of
Green turtle nests were saved in 2020 – the highest record achieved as a result of community beach patrolling initiatives.
Coastal community enterprises La’nu and Po’on were successfully established as legal business entities.
With your help, we can give them the hope they need. What’s more, you will be doing your part to help communities’ livelihoods while protecting and conserving ocean habitats for our precious marine wildlife. Please give communities a life-changing gift today.