Data Sources

Information for this community profile predominantly came from Key Informant Interviews. 
The following references were also used as secondary sources:
“GARNIER, JULIE, et al. “Co-management of the reef at Vamizi Island, northern Mozambique.” TenYears after Bleaching—Facing the Consequences of Climate Change in the Indian Ocean (2008): 121-128.”
“Hill, Nicholas. “Livelihoods in an artisanal fishing community and the effect ofecotourism.” University College of London, London (2005).”
Our entry to Vamizi was facilitated by WWF employees who are in association with the Vamizi lodge.One employee lives in the “old village” of Vamizi and is only a casual worker for WWF, he was therefore able to help with introducing us to the village leader and to invite participants to focus groups, to sort out venues for us to carry out our work.


Vamizi island lies in the far north section of the Querimbas archipelago just below the Tanzanian  border. It falls under the Cabo Delgado province, and similarly to Lalane, belongs to the Olumbi administrative Post in Palma District.


Fig.1. Location of Vamizi Island


Figure 2: Village and lodge locations (line indicates lodge delineation area)


The estimated total number of people was 533 in 1999 [1]. However these numbers fluctuate greatly. There is an increasing number of people coming to Vamizi Island mainly for the purposes of fishing. The fishing camps of Kivuri and Golance, based to either side of Aldeia/Vamizi village, are now bigger than Vamizi village itself. There are 94 houses in Golance. In Kivuri there are 99 houses registered with the Kivuri chief. Of these, about 40 of the houses are now permanent throughout the year in Golance (interview with Golance chief’s assistant), and about 70 are permanent throughout the year in Kivuri (interview with Kivuri chief). The remaining fishermen come for periods of a few months or weeks before returning with their catches [2].


Vamizi is one of the largest islands (12 kms long and 0.5-2 kms wide) of the Querimbas and one of the four islands which has always had a resident community since Arabic times. Early settlers settled in the western section of the island for its easier access to the mainland. The resident population was estimated at 533 people in 1999, the majority being of Kimwani and Swahili origin with a livelihood based on subsistence fishing. Since the end of the war, an increasing number of itinerant fishermen from Tanzania and other provinces in Mozambique have established a presence on Vamizi, the total population of the island fluctuates depending on the monsoon. There are also regular movements of fishers between the island and coastal villages on the continent, which further contribute to this high flux of people [1].

About two-thirds of the island is now in the concession of CDBTP, and one-third belongs to the local communities. Much of the area set aside for the communities is still uncultivated and forested. However, since it is a coralline island, it is difficult to tell how much more space could be used for agriculture [2].

Kivuri started as a community in 2002 when some itinerant fishermen were removed from the area now under concession of CDBTP and established a camp there. It has grown rapidly since then. Golance has been in established a little longer, but started growing rapidly to its present size in about 2002. People are now marrying locally and settling in these communities, or find they do not have the resources to return to where they came from. The people in both communities come mostly from Nacala, a Province south of Cabo Delgado, although a few come from as far away as Ilha de Moçambique and others from closer by cities Moçimboa da Praia and Pemba. The men interviewed in these villages stated the reason they came was because there was nothing left to fish where they came from, so they came to Vamizi for “vida” (life 0.22). The antecedents of some of today’s villagers came to the island sometime in the 1950s mainly to grow crops and to fish. Initially, there were very few families, and the land where the village stands today was used for cultivation. In the 1960s, many families came to the island to flee from the Independence war. At that time, there was also a Portuguese settlement on the island in the form of a fish processing plant that used to buy fish from the locals, and with whom there was a good relationship. This settlement had a cistern for water that the villagers could use. After Independence in 1975, many people left the island to return to their hometowns. The fish processing plant ran for a few years under State rule before becoming a ruin. Since the exodus of people after the war, the village slowly grew to the village it is today. People arrived to fishing, marry, and settle. This means there are people from many different locations from Ilha de Moçambique in the south up to Mtwara in southern Tanzania making up the present population [2].


Aside from the ecotourism development on Vamizi Island, only two other formally employed positions exist: the teacher and the infirmeiro (village nurse) employed by the state. Casual employment is also found on fishing and transport dhows [2]. Fishing is again the main source of income for most on the island with other sources of income or food used as secondary activities (see fig. below from [2]).



On returning from fishing, if there are enough fish, a portion is taken as food of the fishermen and boat and fishing gear owners and the rest is sold. Of the part that is sold, a fifth of the value received is given to the boat and fishing gear owners, and the rest is divided up between whoever was fishing, including the boat and/or fishing gear owners if appropriate. Of the fish that is kept for food (caril), equal sized piles are made for each member of the crew plus the boat and fishing gear owners. Again, if the boat and/or fishing gear owners are fishing on the boat, they get two piles; one for being part of the crew, the other for owning the boat and/or fishing gear used. Vamizi is isolated from markets by distance and sea. In line with development strategies for artisanal fisheries in Mozambique (Ministry of Fisheries, 1994) which aim to reduce post-harvest losses and increase catch volumes, new fish processing plants have been developed in Palma and Moçimboa da Praia which can handle fresh goods. However, these are not accessible to fishermen on Vamizi due to the distance involved and lack of facilities to maintain fresh fish. Many traders come to the area to buy dried fish to sell in Moçimboa da Praia or Nampula or inland on the continent. Many traders will buy fresh fish and then dry it on the island before taking it to market. Normally, the goods go by dhow from Vamizi to Moçimboa da Praia (a distance of about 50 nautical miles) and then onward by road. Given good conditions, this journey can take one, two or possibly more days. Traders also come from Tanzania to buy fresh lobster and octopus, using cool boxes and ice to keep them fresh. They only come during the spring tides (somana) when octopus fishing occurs (see section 4.1.3), and may only spend a few days on the island.

There are several people from Vamizi village who regularly buy fish for drying and then take it to Moçimboa da Praia or beyond for sale. These include all the shop owners. The amount they buy varies on the amount of money they have available. Generally, they will take fish to sell every two or three months, and (those who own shops) buy goods for their shops and return to Vamizi. There is no market place or system on the island. Instead fish is sold at the landing sites or even between fishing boats returning from fishing grounds. Fishermen have their normal traders who are based at their specific landing sites where they keep the craft they fish from or the equipment they use, or they sell within the village to villagers who are looking for caril. Dried fish has a higher value than fresh fish, and where possible fishermen will keep excess catch to dry and then take to Moçimboa da Praia to sell themselves or sell to traders on the island. Prices are agreed between fishermen and their traders, and can be seen for fresh fish, shark meat, shark fins, fresh octopus, dried fish and octopus, and lobster in table 4.1. Prices vary on the island depending on the number of traders present. Traders buy octopus for Met 7,000 to 8,000 (US$0.31 to 0.36) per kilogram, except for the traders who come from Tanzania with cool boxes who will pay Met 10,000 (US$0.44) per kilogram. They will buy as much octopus as they can, but only come for a few days each spring tide. No-one reported problems in selling fish or other marine products when they wanted to, although the price could vary.

It becomes difficult to sell dried or fresh fish in the rainy season as few fish trader get the chance to buy the fish (IDPPE employee). The number of fishermen also increase from March to June as fishermen from Nacala arrive to fish. The low season is between August and October.


In 1999, the Cabo Delgado Biodiversity and Tourism Project (CDBTP) was created by a handful of foreign investors with the intention of developing an upmarket tourism lodge on Vamizi Island that would support and enable community development and conservation [2]. After negotiations with the islanders and the government, and building, the lodge opened up to tourists in 2005.

They are committed to the sustainable development of the local communities and conservation of natural resources (Garnier, 2003). On Vamizi Island, the key focus is the marine resources, being the key attraction for tourists and critical to local livelihoods[2].

Vamizi village is the closest permanent community to CDBTP, being on the same island, and from whom permissions to start the development were originally sought [2].

About two-thirds of the island is now in the concession of CDBTP, and one-third belongs to the local communities. Much of the area set aside for the communities is still uncultivated and forested, although with it being a coralline island, it is difficult to tell how much more space could be available for agriculture [2].

Employment opportunities within CDBTP are brought to resident communities surrounding the tourism area by the CDBTP Community Liaison Officer (CLO). He liaises with village chiefs to source employees who will be reliable and able to work. Rarely is education required for many of the jobs available within CDBTP at present. This method, although necessary, does mean that access to jobs may be restricted to some degree to people in favour with village chiefs and authorities. Not all jobs available are sourced from Vamizi village, as over 100 are involved in the construction process. Only 16 of all the workers on Vamizi Island (of over 150) are from Vamizi village. This has caused some consternation among some of the residents of Vamizi who feel more employment opportunities could be offered to them. However, a number of people from Vamizi have been employed in the past, and have either not been willing to continue to work and preferred to return to their traditional lifestyle, or have been laid-off [2].

There has been some community development since the development of the lodge. It has provided some jobs for the local community, has led to the construction of a health post, a community council of fisheries (CCP) and they have provided motor boats and fishing nets for the fishers. More recently, the lodge is also providing food for the children in school that the lodge built (WWF employee). However, nearly all people interviewed or as part of focus groups expressed their discontent with the lodge. They argued that many of the promises the owners of the lodge had made have not been respected. For example, most people don’t work within the lodge and they employ people from outside the island. Furthermore, the marine protected area that has been put in place has displaced fishing effort and reduce the size of the fishing grounds, many believe this is unfair.


Other markets on the island are also limited by distance and sea, but still people come to Vamizi from nearby coastal areas to buy or cut sticks and building materials. One large log (staka) can be sold for Met 2,500 (US$0.11); three or four thinner building sticks (lenha) can be sold for Met 1,000 (US$0.04); 50 of the thinnest sticks (nenga) can be sold for Met 15,000 (US$0.67). Some respondents express worry at the amount of wood that is taken from the island, and large amounts were observed on the beach ready for transportation, particularly in Kivuri [2].








[1] GARNIER J, SILVA I, Davidson J, Hill N, Muaves L, Mucaves S, et al. Co-management of the reef at Vamizi Island, northern Mozambique. Ten Years after Bleaching—Facing the Consequences of Climate Change in the Indian Ocean. 2008:121-8.

[2] Hill N. Livelihoods in an artisanal fishing community and the effect of ecotourism. University College of London, London. 2005.