One of the many tools we use to advance conservation at CORAL is the microgrant. A microgrant—as its name implies—is a small grant that we give to a local group or organization so that they can implement a community conservation project. For the Sharks for the Future campaign, we formed a small committee to develop and oversee microgrant implementation. In both Yelu and Dabatan, the committee chose to fund a project that would combine shark conservation messaging with improved waste management and local threat reduction to the marine ecosystem.
Many of the villages in Raja Ampat are small islands. They have limited, if any, infrastructure to deal with their waste. This has led to a deterioration of water quality and health (skin disease is one of the main health problems in the villages of Raja Ampat). As trash management is a daily chore, the committee recognized an opportunity for the community to associate healthy communities with healthy oceans, while also still focusing on the importance of sharks. The microgrant funded the installation of garbage bins decorated with shark drawings at the school, as well as the building of a large brick dump depository for the village. The combined messaging will provide a wide platform for shark conservation, while also providing a local community benefit.
A second microgrant for a junior high school in Dabatan provided two garbage bins (again decorated with shark drawings), as well as a school message board and library upgrade that references shark and marine conservation. The students developed the content of the message board under their teacher’s supervision, and plans are underway to complete the installation by the end of the second year of this grant. For the library upgrade, CORAL has facilitated a collection of thirty new books to add to the school’s collection, and will continue to support efforts to grow the library.
Through these microgrants, we are giving the communities ownership of projects that advance our objective of protecting sharks, while also ensuring sustainability.