the Locally Empowered Area Protection Project

Enhancing Coastal and Marine Socio-ecological Resilience and Biodiversity Conservation in the Western Indian Ocean

This new project, referred to as LEAP for short (Locally Empowered Area Protection) aims to achieve long-term effective, equitable and inclusive co-management of Locally Managed Marine Protected Areas (LMMAs) in four countries – Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Seychelles. The project was officially launched through inception workshops in Mombasa, Kenya (February 13th 2020) and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (March 4th 2020).

This four-year project will run until March 2023 and is being implemented by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN’s Eastern and Southern Africa Office) in partnership with CORDIO, Associação do Meio Ambient (AMA) and Nature Seychelles and is funded by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). See partner links below

The overall planned outcome of the LEAP project is that by 2023, the effective management of coastal, island and marine biodiversity and ecosystem services in Mozambique, Seychelles, Kenya and Tanzania is improved through adoption of locally relevant protected or conservation area governance frameworks by national governments and non-state actors. Four outputs comprehensively contribute to this project outcome.

LEAP will invest in policy-related activities, as well as infrastructure, conservation, and restoration actions, training and equipment, public awareness programmes and the introduction of sustainable financing mechanisms. 

The project ethos for Kenya and Tanzania where CORDIO is largely focused, is to build upon and strengthen existing LMMA initiatives and provide support where needed, particularly by filling gaps in awareness, knowledge and management. This in turn will help improve governance structures and policies. These aims are articulated by the interlinking project outputs. Alongside IUCN, CORDIO will also work towards facilitating various learning exchange opportunities, cooperation, and greater political support for community-based coastal and marine conservation for the wider WIO region.

Fundamental ways in which we aim to strengthen LMMA effectiveness include:

  • Identifying, piloting, and promoting best practices of sustainable financing
  • Creating platforms for peer-peer dialogue, networking and best practice guidance on collaborative governance and management of coastal resources
  • Revising applicable national policy and regulatory frameworks
  • Science and evidence-based approaches to achieve positive outcomes for biodiversity conservation and local communities
  • Leveraging international attention and support, i.e. through the CBD, SDGs, IUCN’s Green List

Download or Read the LEAP project brief for further details.

Kenya Launch

The project launch workshop for Kenya was held in Mombasa on February 13th with 48 participants in attendance, representing non-state actors including national and international NGOs, community members, Beach Management Units (BMUs), civil society as well as government departments heavily invested in marine protected areas or marine resources management such as Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Kenya Fisheries Services (KeFS).

Marine parks in Kenya have been highlighted as among the most effective in the Western Indian Ocean with a high abundance and biomass of valuable fisheries species found within, relative to fished areas. Community benefits and involvement has however been erred often causing some resentment and resistance from adjacent communities. In recent decades, this has begun to change with greater involvement of surrounding communities through collaborative management approaches. As a result, coastal communities through BMUs have established community co-managed areas locally known as tengefu or vilindo vya jamii. The performance of these areas is varied. Some have done really well whilst others have fallen behind, all of which, both successes and failures offer important lessons for the country and the wider region.

During the workshop, community stakeholders highlighted their journeys. Inspiring stories were shared; from how observations of fisheries decline in Kuruwitu led to the first Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) initiative in the country, to novel community-driven coral reef restoration promoting the recovery of degraded coral reef areas in Wasini improving community livelihoods at the same time. Initiatives from Lamu highlighted how existing co-management concepts have been used to bring BMUs together and form a network of closures, based on science to help communities design their fisheries closures optimally. Sustainable financing is a challenge for many of these community initiatives.The blue carbon project at Gazi illustrates an example solution that can address this challenge, in which mangrove conservation coupled with carbon credit trading can support and achieve sustainable development and conservation. All of these ideas and solutions provide learning platforms for other communities and areas to support more effective LMMAs.

Both KWS and KeFS government entities emphasised their support for community-based conservation through the technical assistance and the legislative frameworks they provide to communities engaging in MPA management and managing their marine resources. Participants further engaged with one another through panel discussions and facilitated workshop sessions on governance. An initial advisory committee meeting was assembled with individuals and institutions to elicit guidance on project implementation from the beginning and will be engaged throughout.

Download or Read full report of the Kenyan launch event.


Tanzania Launch

The LEAP inception workshop for Tanzania was held in Dar es Salaam on March 4th, 2020, and brought together 33 participants from the mainland and Zanzibar. Representation included national and international NGOs, government, and local communities. Stakeholders included policymakers, scientists, technical and financial partners involved with Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs), and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Tanzania.

For decades, Tanzania has proactively involved local participation, with government and international NGOs playing a role in marine resource management and conservation. Different initiatives have been applied with varying levels of success, accruing many lessons to learn from. The LEAP project seeks to share lessons from different actors and stakeholders on community-based marine resource management through LMMA approaches, and further build upon these successes by providing the necessary support.

Participants were given an overview of the project; highlighting its focus, target counties, and why now is an opportune and critical time to bring stakeholders together and amalgamate resources with a shared vision to conserve marine ecosystems. Presentations and discussions were led by key stakeholders and highlighted different aspects of Tanzanian marine conservation.

These included Kukuu Shehia Fisheries Council in Pemba, Zanzibar; Songosongo Beach Management Unit in Kilwa, and the Regional Fisheries Officer in Tanga. With different perspectives, participants discussed how communities and other stakeholders have initiated various strategies to benefit not only those whose livelihoods were reliant on marine resources but also the ecosystems. Research institutions emphasized the importance of socio-economic and ecological research in informing effective on-the-ground management and policy interventions.

It was evident that there is a need to better define the roles of different stakeholders as well as engage all stakeholders in local area management, each contributing differently to a shared solution. Although there are continued efforts to engage all stakeholders, there is room to improve inclusivity and this will be taken on through the LEAP project. An advisory committee was also convened to discuss how such a group can play a guiding role throughout the projects’ lifetime. Over the next 4 years, the LEAP project aims to strengthen existing institutional and legal frameworks in Tanzania to support marine conservation through LMMAs.

Download or Read full report of the Tanzanian launch event.

Project partners:

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Associação do Meio Ambiente (AMA), and Nature Seychelles

This project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.