Protecting and Restoring Marine Ecosystems on the Southern Kenyan Coast Through community-led No-Take Zones | One Earth
Protecting and Restoring Marine Ecosystems on the Southern Kenyan Coast Through community-led No-Take Zones

Image credit: Courtesy of the Kuruwitu Conservation Welfare Community Based Organization

Protecting and Restoring Marine Ecosystems on the Southern Kenyan Coast Through community-led No-Take Zones

Organization Kuruwitu Conservation Welfare Community Based Organization
Category Nature Conservation

There are five main project categories: Energy Transition focuses on renewable energy access and energy efficiency. Nature Conservation includes wildlife habitat protection and ecosystem restoration, as well as Indigenous land rights. Regenerative Agriculture supports farmers, ranchers and community agriculture. Climate Change covers global science efforts, climate adaptation, and social justice work.

Realm Afrotropics

The Project Marketplace is organized by the major terrestrial realms divided into 14 biogeographical regions – N. America, Subarctic America, C. America, S. America, Afrotropics, Indomalaya, Australasia, Oceania, Antarctica, and the Palearctic realm, which coincides with Eurasia and is divided into Subarctic, Western, Central, Eastern, and Southern regions.

Status ongoing

Seed indicates an early stage project that needs some level of support to develop into a larger funding proposal. Ongoing indicates any project that needs core programmatic funding. Urgent indicates a short-term project initiated in response to a natural disaster or other impending risk.

Funding Level $$$

$$$ indicates a project between $250,000-$1 million.

Timeframe 24 months
Partner Buckminster Fuller Institute

Recognized by UNDP’s Equator Initiative, this project builds upon a Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) led by the Kuruwitu Conservation Welfare Community Based Organization (KCW-CBO) to protect an important topical coral reed system. The initiative created a new No-take Zone, a coastal marine area closed to all fishing. Fish stocks in adjoining areas become more abundant as a result, while other traditional fisheries have declined due to climate-related impacts. Local governments are now partnering with Oceans Alive Trust (OAT) to assist in replicating the KCW-CBO initiative across 16 coastal zones in Kilifi County.

Kenya recently adopted a policy that could lead to the introduction of industrial, deep-water fishing vessels. Unless regulated, illegal fishing within the coral reef zone will have a negative impact, damaging the reef and fisheries. So this project now seeks to extend the KCW-CBO experience from the nearshore reef and extend it to protect the offshore, deep-water reef fishery. The Kuruwitu Co-Managed Area extends for 10-12 km along the Kilifi County coastline and includes the 12 nautical mile territorial waters, nearly 20,000 ha. It harbors diverse ecotypes from coral reefs, coral platforms, caves, lagoons, seagrass beds, and beaches, and is a popular ecotourism venue, and provisions local fishing livelihoods.

KCW-CBO was founded in 2003 by residents Des Bowden and Dickson Juma, a fisherman. The local community manages a 30 ha LMMA located within the Co-Managed Area. In 2017, KCW-CBO was awarded the UNDP Equator Award for its achievement in increasing fish biomass by 400%, 30% recovery in corals, and 17% seagrass reemergence over 15 years. KCW-CBO works with local residents, the County, and Kenya Fisheries Service as an initiative that can be replicated by the 16 Beach Managements Units (BMUs) within Kilifi County.

The goals of this project are:

  • To scale up the 30 ha KCW-CBO NTZ into a 100 ha LMMA buffer zone
  • To establish 2 new NTZ, each 50 ha, total 100ha, to restore other vital areas of the nearshore reef

The preservation of marine resources, mitigation of climate change impacts, and promotion of sustainable fishing will benefit 550 fishers, 15,000 direct value chain beneficiaries, and 30,000 indirect beneficiaries. Other coastal communities, Kuruwitu BMU, and the 16 other Kilifi County BMU network members will be influenced and educated to adopt additional No Take Zones. The spill-over improvement in fishery and eco-tourism enterprises will improve local livelihood options, leading to social well-being and employment opportunities for youth and women.

Through peer-to-peer participatory approaches, KCW-CBO will provide community sensitization, sharing models, and templates to achieve the six stages to BMU security of tenure, and will be a testbed for the revised BMU guidelines.

Image credit: Courtesy of the Kuruwitu Conservation Welfare Community Based Organization

Other stakeholders include the private sector and the Kilifi BMU Network in a technical working group to cooperate in coordinating and guiding the implementation of the proposed activities, serving as a springboard to share with other BMUs. The activities will lead the new Co-Management Plan 2021-2025 and develop it as a pilot model for replication by other BMU members.

The KCW-CBO has benefitted its local community members with improved living standards and diversified livelihoods. The catalytic effect of this project will not only benefit approximately 80 BMUs, but also add to the ecotourism experience and associated value chains of the 5 coastal counties.

These benefits will be accomplished through the following:

  • Roll out of KCW-CBO LMMA model and establishment of a 6-stage toolbox and associated templates for LMMA that can be used alongside the emerging BMI Guidelines to replicate the model elsewhere in Kilifi County 17 BMUs, Kenya, and the EAC region
  • A peer-to-peer approach that will provide proof to inform the decision-makers, BMU members, and the local community that LMMAs established as no-take zones can have benefits, and are worth adoption and scaling up
  • The No-Take Zone and conservation of the beach and reef area expansion of opportunities in the value chain of products that a BMU can provide to its members (e.g. eco-tourism, mariculture)
  • Attainment of the No-Take-Zone contributes to the 10% of global SDG requirements of establishing MPA.

This project will mobilize like-minded NGOs and stakeholders to develop an LMMA network for the Kilifi Seascape, helping to share information, bring coordination among all actors, and provide a unified approach to the management and governance of Kenyan fisheries and marine resources.

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