Monday, October 25, 2010



In 1995 the Integrated Coastal Area Management (ICAM) initiative in Kenya based on the National Environment Action Plan (NEAP) and other international protocols brought together hoteliers, researchers, planners, resource managers and relevant university departments to profile the problems confronting the coastal residents outside Mombasa town. To consolidate the issues in the study area and endorse strategies to address them, other stakeholders had to be included to complete the evaluation and make a comprehensive list of suggestions. These were administrators, boat operators, mangrove t ra d e rs , fi s h e rmen and tourism serv i c e providers. A lead institution for co-ordinating the effort was identified.

Th rough this part i c i p at o ry pro c e s s , the issues to be add ressed we re identified as rapid urbanizat i o n , d e cline in reef fi s h e ries and water quality, e rosion of the shore l i n e, d egra d ation of other coastal ecosystems and use conflicts. Both short - and long-term strat egies to solve the pro bl e m s we re also evo l ved and synthesized in a ‘ s t rat egie s ’ document to be implemented by various pe rtinent institutions/people based on mandate, ex p e rience and tech n i c a l / fiscal cap ab i l i t y. To start w i t h , some demonstration projects are being put in place to show off the real value of ICAM as a tool to manage coastal re s o u rces. To sustain the e ffo rt s , vo l u n t a ry technical wo rking groups on the va rious issues we re put in place and will execute and ove rsee the implementation of the va rious strat egies on behalf of a secre t a ri at and a multi-institutional Coastal Management Steeri n g Committee (CMSC). As a Co-o rd i n ator of the p roject for the last four ye a rs I would like to share h e re my ex p e rience with colleagues in the regi o n .


Formal education empowers and fully integrates an individual into his immediate and global community. The level of formal education in the majority of our coastal communities is low. As a
result, the environment and the biology of the resource base is not fully appreciated nor are conservation principles for sustainable use. For example, local stakeholders do not know that coral is a living organism that requires certain conditions for its continued growth and development. Their educational status also excludes stakeholders from knowledge of alternative uses of coastal products or substitution of other products to avoid overexploitation. The status also reduces risk taking in adopting new, appropriate and still affordable technologies.

Fortunately, with the type and amount of research information available on the study site, the challenge to raise awareness and encourage participation in implementing specific development strategies is a feasible one.


Cultural education and experience is knowledge that has been accrued over the generations by practice and habit. This cultural practice is therefore proven and it is definitely sustainable. M o d e rn ap p ro a ches to coastal management have to accept this information base and interweave the cultural experience with modern science in order to achieve the desired results. Custodians of cultural education tend to be resistant to parting freely with their knowledge. Appropriate incentives need to be evolved to reward the sharing of indigenous knowledge when it is sought for incorporation into planning development programmes. Such knowledge exists in boat making, sailing, night fishing, seasonal movements of pelagic fish schools, upwelling, selective fishing etc.


The success of coastal projects will be largely determined by how good a working rapport is established among all the stakeholders including government and the beneficiaries/supporters of
the projects. When bad communication/publicity is given about our coastal tourism, for example,
appropriate communication should be given to correct the record in order to sustain an industry
which accounts for up to 60% of total national tourism. Translation of policies, strategies and priorities into various local languages should be encouraged even though in Kenya we are united
by a national language that originated from the coast. Our experience has been amply shared through national radio and international conferences and our strategy document has been put on the Internet by our collaborators at the University of Rhode Island. The proposed codes of conduct for our conservation areas and the environmental impact assessment procedures to be incorporated in the government environment policy are highly articulated. On-the-job training, training of trainers and refresher courses appear to be the most efficient methods of communication with target groups already engaged in specific enterprises; it updates the workers on the latest technologies and methodologies. The benefits cut across generations as you make future leaders aware of coastal problems early in their lives.


Another determinant of the long-term success of the ICAM process is the development of a critical mass of trained pers o n n e l , a functional national framework and a sustainable financing
scheme tailored mainly from within individual c o u n t ries. This development will guara n t e e intensification, expansion and nationalization of the ICAM pilot projects. Continued sharing of experience and extensive use of technical expertise from elsewhere is encouraged. In this way, national efforts will be regionally and internationally integrated.

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