My name is Anne Nyambane an intern at UNEP working with Marine Ecosystem Unit and an Environmental Scientist from Kenyatta University. I visited Gazi Bay so that I can get information from a community that has benefited directly from mangrove protection.
Mikoko Pamoja which means “Mangroves Together” is a project located in the South Coast of Kenya where residents of the Gazi village and adjacent Makongeni Village have come together to protect and restore degraded Mangroves areas as they benefit from them through the sale of carbon offsets among other benefits associated with mangroves. A talk with Dr. Kairo, Mr. Njoroge, Mr. Hassan and Ms. Mwende who are the scientists on the ground assisting the community, informed me that they have already started selling their carbon offsets and the money is expected to be used to fund income generating projects for the residents and to extent mangrove coverage. There is a plan to also employ personnel who will be guarding the mangrove areas from any illegal loggers.
To avoid leakage and ensure that the mangroves are protected especially from fuelwood harvest which is the major threat, an alternative source of energy has been put in place. They planted fast growing castuarina equisitifolia trees which will be used for fuelwood and other wood products. Residents are encouraged to use the energy-saving jikos and solar energy use is being promoted to reduce reliance on wood for energy and pressures on mangroves.
The residents are involved in the reforestation of the mangrovesby planting 4000 mangrove trees each year to ensure the original mangrove cover is attained over the project-period of 20 years. This will also ensure that the fishing activity which is the main source of livelihood for the residents is protected.
To promote eco-tourism while encouraging conservation of the mangroves, the Mikoko Pamoja project initiated a new program known as Gazi women self help group which constructed a 450m long boardwalk alongside the mangrove. The boardwalk area is used by both local and international tourists for bird watching, organizing events like weddings, get-together and for leisure. It also provides a spectacular view of the different species of mangroves. The revenue accrued through the boardwalk is normally used by the women to improve their living standards and those of community too. In addition, bee keeping within the mangrove is being encouraged and aquaculture especially in areas where the mangroves cannot survive due to high salinity is encouraged.
It was amazing to see how the residents of Gazi Bay are living in harmony with the Mangroves with both benefiting from each other.