Socotra's Information Center: Biodiversity Conservation and Sharing Benefits

Socotra Center
An information center established by UNDP to sell and market bidiversity products and promote ecotourism in Socotra Archipelago, August 2016

The Socotra Archipelago, an island in the Arabian Sea, is a prime center of unique biodiversity. It is historically renown by its rare and spectacular plants. Only Socotra can give you a magic view of the dragon trees (locally known as blood tree), frankincense trees, desert roses…etc. that characterize its mountains and coastal landscapes. As one of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Natural World Heritage Sites in the Arab world, Socotra ranks among the top of endangered islands in the world with over 250 endemic species.

With co-funding from Global Environment Facility (GEF), UNDP Socotra Governance and Biodiversity Project aims to improve the livelihoods of rural communities and conserve the biodiversity in Socotra Archipelago. This initiative is targeting more than 1,000 people during 2016, including 475 women. Also the project provides the beneficiaries with the technical skills, equipment and financial grants to establish microbusinesses to produce and sell unique local products and handicrafts in order to  ensure more sustainable development. 

Story Highlights

  • This initiative is targeting more than 1,000 people during 2016, including 475 women.
  • In four months, Socotra Information and Natural Products Center received more than 3,500 visitors.
  • The center sells natural products including dragon’s blood, frankincense, aloe, and tooth brush from endemic plant species, honey, traditional natural medicines, as well as handcrafts made from wool and palm leaves.
  • The center also promotes ecotourism through the provision of booklets, maps and brochures.

The local communities face difficulties to access markets and promote their natural products. In order to help them access markets, the project established Hadibu city the Socotra Information and Natural Products Center. The center serves as an intermediate hub for selling and marketing the local handicrafts and natural products from all the governorate. The center encourages the local handcrafters and NGO to diversify their products and develop innovative solutions for product designing and packaging.  

 “Simply, we help the local communities to market their products and handicrafts to the locals, visitors and tourists. We also help the visitors to learn more about Socotra's rich biodiversity and species, the island's marine and natural landscapes as well as to purchase and enjoy quality natural products and traditional handicrafts.” said Abdullaziz Nasser the manager of Socotra Information Center.  

The center sells natural products coming from protected areas, associations, private and public cooperatives and community members. These include dragon’s blood, frankincense, aloe, and tooth brush from endemic plant species, honey, traditional natural medicines, as well as handcrafts made from wool and palm leaves.

"I live in a remote village in Qalansiya city. I used to produce few quantities of natural products and sell some honey because there was no market to sell or promote them in Qalansiya. The returns were very low, making it difficult to support my family. Now, I travel to Hadibu every month to sell my products to the Socotra's Center and to learn about the demands of the visitors. The center has helped me to improve the quality of my products and sell them with fair prices" said Saeed Shenham, a 60-year old honey producer from Qalansiya. 

The center also promotes ecotourism through the provision of booklets, maps and brochures about the island, its rare biodiversity and species, and marine and plant life to all visitors and tourists. In four months, the center received more than 3,500 visitors. 

As the popularity of the center increases day-by-day within Socotra's community members, it led to increase in receiving more local products every month. This has encouraged the management of the center to consider expanding their services and operations. 

"We are no longer able to purchase and sell all products that we received from all over the island. We started last month to export some products to some governorates in the mainland as an initial step. This helps us to promote Socotra's natural products and handicrafts beyond the island and encourage local production, added Abdullaziz Nasser, the manager of Socotra Information Center.  

Our experience with Socotra's Information Center has demonstrated that the establishment of a complete value chain in biodiversity management is a sustainable model of development to eradicate extreme poverty, strengthen livelihoods of rural communities and support creation of new jobs for youth and women. This would have been impossible to achieve without the generous support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and United Nations Development Programme. 

To read more about UNDP Yemen’s work during the ongoing conflict, click here.

For more details

UNDP Team Leader of Economic Resilience Unit,
Fuad Ali,
Mobile: +967 712222330;
Email: fuad.ali@undp.org

Or Fuad Hazaea, Projects Communication and Advocacy Officer,
Mobile: +967 712221686,
Email: fuad.hazaea@undp.org

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