Seaweed Farming in Zanzibar - An Industry in Hot Water

  • Photographer
    Kiki Streitberger

Zanzibar is one of the poorest regions in the world. With 16,000 tons per year, seaweed production has become the third largest industry on the group of islands. It is exported to the US, Europe and Asia, where it is used in toothpaste, shampoo, cosmetics, medicine and as a food additive. It has allowed many Zanzibari women to earn an income and to be independent. Lately, however, a rise in water temperature has stunted the growth of the crops and has caused very fine, green algae to grow in between the seaweed. They need to be picked off, but even then, the seaweed is of inferior quality and yields lower prices. The only way around it would be to grow the seaweed in deeper waters, but as the women of Zanzibar can’t swim, this is not really an option. The women are losing their livelihood because we, from the countries that are largely responsible for the climate change, are paying them less for a product, which is of a lesser quality, because of the climate change we caused. The effects of climate change are most noticeable in the poorest regions in the world and in order to create a better future for all of us, I believe we can no longer look away.