Community Capabilities and Marine Protected Area Governance
Scaling up and Capacity development
This is rapid response work responding to the Covid-19 crisis.
The aim of the project is to protect the marine environment and to improve the social welfare of communities for whom Covid-19 has been extremely challenging.
Watamu, on the Kenyan coast, is home to Watamu National Marine Park (“Haven of the Green Turtle” and a Marine Protected Area). It is an area that relies heavily on the tourist industry and where many people live a hand-to-mouth existence. A Rocha Kenya is a partner conservation NGO that has been working in the area since 1999. Their work includes research, environmental education and community conservation.
In an area already experiencing economic insecurity and with no social security, the Coronavirus pandemic has meant the loss of all tourism and caused extensive job losses, in both the formal and informal sectors. Many are struggling to afford food. As a result, pressure has increased on the already fragile marine environment, with people engaging in illegal fishing, such as the use of poison, and over-harvesting. This project provides an alternative of short-term, paid employment to community members.
The project employed a team of ‘Marine Scouts’ to monitor the marine and coastal ecology, take part in clean-ups and discourage illegal activity. This is helping to prevent ecosystem degradation while also building understanding of conservation, including skills development and certification which could help lead to future employment. The project also helps to tackle poverty by offering financial inducements for local people to complete mobile phone livelihood surveys. Each survey pays enough for a household to buy 10 kg of rice, enabling communities to purchase basic food supplies.