Equator Prize 2010 goes to Rosh Community from Socotra

Dragon's Blood Tree in Socotra Island (UNDP Yemen)

By: Bohdana Rambouskova, Communication Officer, Socotra Governance & Biodiversity Project

With hope and a bit of mistrust, the Rosh community from Socotra Island accepted the suggestion of the UNDP-GEF Socotra Governance and Biodiversity Project to run for the Equator Prize 2010. That was in February 2010.

The community under the leadership of Sheikh Omer Ali Ahmed Mosallam was pronounced as one of 25 best initiative from the Equatorial belt countries and awarded the equator prize 2010 for outstanding efforts to reduce poverty through conservation of biodiversity.

The Rosh Marine protected Area community has been granted 5000 US dollars for its development activities. This is the first time ever the Equator Prize has a winner from the Middle East. As the organizers announced, the level of competition was extremely high this year and the nominations received were truly impressive.

There were almost 300 initiative from 66 countries from Africa and the Pacific, and Latin America running for the prize. The winning Rosh community has joined an elite group of 128 Equator Prize winners. It has been confirmed as an influential grassroots movement of local and indigenous best practices in biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction.

Rosh impressed the committee with its marine conservation and the eco-tourism enterprise based on the principle of community sharing benefits. Rosh is a Marine Protected Area located within 1 km off the northern coast of Socotra. It boasts with a rich and well protected marine life and one of the biodiversity hotspots on the island, which is listed as a world Natural Heritage site by UNESCO since July 2008.

The villages of Sacra and Diherhom that traditionally own the Rosh Marine Protected Area started their conservation activities back in the 1990, long time accommodation and food services. The operation of the eco-camp is organized on the principle of community sharing benefits as the best way to show how to motivate the whole community to conserve their natural resources.

The eco-campsites uses solar panels and sustainable water management system in the last tourist season, more than 200 tourist visited the Rosh eco-campsite.

The Rosh community was nominated for the prize by UNDP-GEF Socotra Governance and Biodiversity Project, which has been working in the island since June 2009. The project supported the community in preparing the presentation materials of the Equator Prize Award Ceremony which followed the Community Summit during the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September. Rosh delegates were supposed to personally attend.

However, Sheikh Omer and his son Wagdi could not finalized the VISA procedures. Therefore, the Rosh Initiative was presented in New York by a MDGs poster, detailed in-case study and a short narrated photo story.

The Equator Initiative started in 2002 as a response to the fact that the world’s greatest concentrations of biodiversity are located in countries suffering the world’s most acute poverty. It is a partnership that brings together the United Nations, governments, civil society, business, and grassroots organizations. It aims the capacity and raise the profile of local effort to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

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