EU supports Nature Seychelles' Greening Livelihoods Project

The European Union has recently provided a grant to Nature Seychelles in support of a project to be carried out in the Seychelles. The project will use the environment to provide new socio-economic opportunities for at risk groups. Nature Seychelles is set to launch the project, Greening Livelihoods: Using the environment to provide new socio-economic options for vulnerable groups in Seychelles in the coming weeks.

And on Friday 27 January 2012, Mr. Arun Ramduny, the Project Manager for the project portfolio for Seychelles based at the EU delegation in Mauritius, visited Nature Seychelles and met with the team who will carry out the project.  He also visited the site where it will be based - the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman and the adjacent Heritage Garden.

The project is targeted at the vulnerable and dependent groups, principally those who are suffering from substance abuse. It aims to use nature conservation and green exercise to provide these groups with appropriate mental, physical and practical skills to improve their livelihood options and to facilitate their participation in mainstream society.

Substance abuse and dependence, and its associated problems, is seen as the single most serious health and socio-economic problem in Seychelles today.

"This project  has come about as our response as part of the Civil Society to a problem that is affecting the society. We have looked to what is available to us - nature, to help tackle the problem," Dr. Nirmal Shah Nature Seychelles Chief Executive has said.

Ground-breaking research in the United Kingdom has shown that targeted outdoor activities in natural settings improves public and environmental health. The evidence indicates that exposure to natural environments helps people cope with and recover from stress, illness and injury; gives them a more positive outlook and greater life satisfaction, and can improve concentration and productivity.

Based on this, the Nature Seychelles began activities, under its Green Health programme, that use nature for the health and well-being of society. It intends to use the experience gained from this programme and extend it to assist the vulnerable groups.  

Activities under the project will see young people engage in meaningful and interesting activities that are focused, productive and enriching while at the same time giving them some skills in practical environment protection and conservation, horticulture, organic gardening and production of value added products and basic visitor management and nature guiding.

Green health activities such as outdoor yoga, meditation and physical fitness are expected to build their resilience and alleviate negative social influences.

"These have been shown to help lift mood, develop motivation, raise self-esteem, reduce stress, and provide purpose and meaning. And contacts formed with other people during these outdoor activities can reduce isolation, help develop support networks and improve social skills," says Robin Hanson, Nature Seychelles Green Health coordinator who will lead some of the activities.

The NGO will be working with experienced partners who deal with rehabilitation namely the Drugs and Alcohol Council and Centre Mont Royal.

Nature Seychelles thanks the EU for supporting this project which it hopes will have a great impact on Seychelles society.

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