Our 2023

Community Dissemination Workshop

Discussing Participatory Management of Marine Resources with Communities

Between 27th November and December 6th, 2023, CORDIO staff went on the road to meet our closest local conservation partners: coastal community members from the Mkunguni, Munje, Bodo, Wasini, Kanamai, Kuruwitu and Mtwapa Beach Management Units (BMUs). The roadshow marked our 2023 Community Dissemination Workshop, event in which we pitched camp at the different BMU sites to discuss the outcomes of our collaborations in 2023.

The workshop, which drew such guests as the Kwale County Assistant Commissioner, Kenya’s Coast Guard General Director, Fisheries Officers from the Kilifi and Kwale County governments, Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) and Kenya Fisheries Services (KEFs), was a remarkable success. Participants numbered 1025 in all. 

Themed “Participatory Management of Marine Resources’’, the nine-day workshop set out to discuss the status of Kenya’s coral reefs and raise awareness on projected coral bleaching in 2024, share findings from concluded modified-fishing gear trials, confirm livelihood options for the communities, and, finally, introduce the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Narrative Model of Action.

With song and dance, video presentations and lectures, debate and quizzes, the workshop lived up to its billing.  Highlights are below

Our Head of Finance, Eva Kitaria, (R) and Bookkeeper, Susan Onguru, (L) registering workshop participants
The event banner

Corals and Coral Reefs

CORDIO’s Coral Reef Researchers Swaleh Aboud and Abigail Mwalimu took turns presenting the findings of our National Coral Reef Assessment (NCRA) to the communities. Kenya’s NCRA was conducted between 2020 and 2023 under the “Innovating and sharing knowledge for coastal resilience in Eastern Africa” project. Findings were shared with communities for validation, with reports of undocumented ecosystem threats such as sea urchins and crown-of-thorns starfish emerging during discussions. All communities agreed on the importance of collaboration in managing coral reefs, further expressing the importance of disseminating coral reef research findings with them. They affirmed their commitment to participatory management of marine resources, including the use of approved fishing gear and enhanced enforcement through the BMUs. Illegal fishing and fishing practices were cited as areas in need of urgent government action.

With coral bleaching, the mostly-fisher participants of the workshop affirmed they would be on the lookout for any bleaching incidents. CORDIO’s GIS Project Manager shared our system of monitoring and communicating coral bleaching alerts.

We also had the distinct pleasure of distributing coral reef monitoring gear during the workshop. Each BMU was gifted snorkelling gear, tape measures, slates and stationery to boost participatory monitoring capacity. Our Fisheries Researcher Geoffrey Odhiambo, who also presented our video demonstration of community-led coral reef monitoring, led this exercise.

Conservation Enterprises and Livelihood Options

A major showcase during the workshop was the promise of sustainable conservation financing mechanisms such as Village and Savings Loan Associations (VSLAs). VSLAs have become a microfinancing pillar in the developing world, drawing people with shared socio-economic needs and interests (and, in our case, conservation) into small, self-run savings and credit savings schemes. The Mama Karanga and Tunusuru Women’s Group VSLAs, which we helped found, were presented as success stories, and workshop participants were encouraged to form or join similar enterprises. The Mkunguni BMU Vice-Chairman Umaya Hamza identified individual groups within his BMU such as seaweed farmers, merchants and gillnet fishers as among viable candidates for VSLAs. He pointed to his own group, comprising basket trap fishers, as an example of the transformative economic power of VLSAs. Geoffrey Odhiambo and our CBC Research Intern, Diana Jepkoech, led the presentations.

Paul Baraka, Research Assistant for our Social Science Program, also presented findings of our UNEP-Go Blue-funded needs assessment. The 2023 study investigated, among others, livelihood options with the potential to meet the sustainable financing of Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) and untapped conservation models. Tourism and small-scale business were confirmed as the most preferred pathways, workshop participants emphasizing the need for financial training, sponsorship and capacity building. Offshore fishing was cited as potentially useful in mitigating the overexploitation of small-scale fisheries.

The SDG Narrative Model of Action

We also had the pleasure of introducing to communities, for the first time, the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Narrative Model of Action. Conceptualized by our Founding Director Dr. David Obura, the framework advocates for a bottom-up, synergistic approach to development action, starting at the local level, and travelling upward to national, regional and international levels. A documentary featuring first-person accounts from six members of the communities in attendance was used to illustrate the concept. Each account, or narrative, showcased interactions between the conservation and protection of the ocean and marine resources (goal 14 of the SDG framework), and other areas of community life and welfare (the remainder of the SDG goals). Mohammad’s narrative, below, proved most popular, with many workshop participants indicating an interest in coral reef restoration work. The session was led by our communications mana

Closing Remarks

Our 2023 Community Dissemination Workshop was a remarkable success, and we look forward to continued dialogue and engagement with Kenya’s coastal communities on participatory approaches to marine resource management. Our heartfelt gratitude also goes out to Milkywire, Klarna, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Climate Initiative (IKI) and Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES and Africa), whose financial support made this event possible. Here is to more conservation action in 2024!