Vamizi Island is a retreat for those who can afford a luxurious holiday away from it all. Historically it has also been a retreat for people escaping the devastation of the Mozambique civil war.
Vamizi Island has now home to more than 1500 people who live in three villages on the eastern tip of the island – as well as the rich birdlife, forest animals, beach and ocean creatures.
When Vamizi Island was developed more than a decade ago, community involvement in the conservation of the island was always a priority. People and nature are inextricably connected. Tourism is the bottom line to support this ideal.
The “people of the coast” or Mwani people have always been fishing, doing small scale agriculture and animal husbandry to make ends meet. Life in the villages is basic and remarkably traditional. Most people survive by trading fish, caught from dugout canoes, small local sailboats (dhows)or picked off by hand from the island’s reefs. There has never been fresh water on the island, so every drop the community uses is brought in by sailboats to the thatched villages twice a day from the mainland.
These activities form the base of their religious beliefs and core values. It has therefore become crucial to introduce sustainable methods to support this Vamizi Island community lifestyle in conjunction with new income-generating alternatives such as eco-tourism.
The Vamizi Island Project and the WWF Partnership ensure that the wonderful biodiversity on and around Vamizi island is conserved along with the people’s lifestyle and dependency on the sea.
The Vamizi Island Project recently completed a clinic and a school on Vamizi Island for local families, ensuring better education and health care for all. Vamizi Island uses regional products to ensure that any future investment stays on the island and only employs people from Vamizi or neighbouring coastal villages.
With the help of Vamizi’s resident community officer a long-term strategy has been put in place allowing the community to make decisions and actively participate through a selected local committee of community shareholders, elected and approved in accordance with local Mozambican government.
The Friends of Vamizi Trust
The Friends of Vamiz Trust was established in early 2012 to fundraise and support the work of the Community Team and the WWF who manage and carry out the community and conservation projects on Vamizi Island. These projects include alternative and sustainable sources of income, environmental education policies, sustainable community run initiatives, and conservation through community input.
The intended outcome is strong self-governed community institutions, independently organized, which govern and protect the local resources.