Zanzibar is the world's 3rd largest exporter of seaweed in the world. Seaweed is mainly exported to Asia and Europe and used as a base for cosmetics, toothpaste, medicine and food.
90% of seaweed farmers in Zanzibar are women. In traditionally patriarchal communities in Zanzibar, women tend to stay at home, cook and look after their children. Seaweed farming had created a significant shift in gender relations, helping women to leave homes, earn money and depend on their income.
Researchers have found that seaweed can play a huge role in fighting climate change by absorbing carbon emissions, greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere and regenerating marine ecosystems. Large-scale seaweed farms could clean up oceans, restoring biodiversity and increasing the productivity of aquaculture.
But in recent years in Zanzibar, the rising temperatures of the Indian Ocean have been killing seaweed due to bacteria called “ice-ice” growing on seaweed causing it to die. To tackle this problem marine biologists suggested moving seaweed farms to deeper much cooler waters. Deepwater seaweed farming will mean that women farmers in Zanzibar need to learn how to swim and adapt to ever-changing seas.