We’re safeguarding coastal ecosystems in Kenya through community-led species protection and conservation initiatives.
The Kenyan coast runs for approximately 600 kilometres along the Indian Ocean, with coastal and marine ecosystems home to rich and diverse marine life that support the livelihoods of 2.7 million people. These waters host five species of marine turtle, all classed as endangered or critically endangered; more than 35 species of marine mammal, including whales, dolphins and dugongs; and 105 species of bony fish, including sharks and rays.
Kenya’s rich marine ecosystems face various threats ranging from rapid population growth and concomitantly increased fisheries exploitation, illegal fishing, and loss of mangrove cover, coupled with global environmental threats such as climate change and increased development pressures, which brings habitat degradation.
Threats are resulting in the unsustainable exploitation of coastal resources; the loss of endangered, threatened, and protected species; and limited livelihood options for the local community. The coastal region experiences the most severe levels of poverty in Kenya. This drives the degradation of marine ecosystems and threatens the long-term sustainability of resources which are vital to local livelihoods, food security, and community wellbeing.
In addition to a better understanding of biodiversity, distribution of species, and the threats they face, there is an urgent need to build the capacity of local fishing communities in Kenya to sustainably manage marine resources, while enhancing their livelihoods with alternatives to unsustainable, destructive, and illegal fishing practices.
IFAW is working in coastal Kenya to reduce pressures on marine species and ecosystems and increase effective protection measures through locally managed marine areas (LMMAs) and community-led species protection and conservation initiatives.
Our work focuses on:
- Improving capacity for conservation of marine species by supporting specialised training to government agency personnel and local community members.
- Supporting population studies of key marine species, including marine mammals, sea turtles, and sharks and rays.
- Diversifying local community livelihoods to reduce reliance on overextraction of marine resources.
- Improving waste management as a strategy to reduce and manage marine debris along the coast, helping to decrease entanglements and ingestion by marine animals while improving coastal habitats and the lives of communities in these areas.
Through IFAW’s approach to coexistence, our work will directly contribute to not only the wellbeing of Kenya’s awe-inspiring marine ecosystems, but also those communities that depend on it for their livelihoods.
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The problems we face are urgent, complicated, and resistant to change. Real solutions demand creativity, hard work, and involvement from people like you.