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  • Writer's pictureAlexander Svarre

Women take up sea sponge farming in Zanzibar

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

Seaweed farming hasn't been lucrative for single mothers and divorced women in recent years due to climate change and rising ocean temperatures. To earn a living and avoid poverty, many have started to farm sea sponges, which are more resilient to overheating. Thanks to a Swiss nonprofit organization, Marine Cultures, established in Zanzibar, many are trained for a year to learn this trade, supporting their children, saving to build a home, while protecting their environment.

Sea sponges are marine creatures that have existed for 600 million years. Once harvested, they are sold for bathing and cleaning. They obtain a higher market price than seaweed. Sea sponges also filter marine pollution, facilitating the control of the carbon cycle in the Ocean.

Finally, sea sponge farming is helping gender equality in such a traditional community. Promoting the use of natural sponges versus synthetic sponges will not only help Zanzibar women become independent but will also help preserve our ecosystem.

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