Community Eco-Credit pilot - incentive for local marine management and opportunity for livelihoods improvement

Ali Saidi
Published: 08 September 2021
Last edited: 19 January 2023
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In partnership with Mwambao-MCCC and GreenFi we began working on a Community Eco-Credit scheme we named "MKUBA".

2.5 years since inception, a review of the model has revealed interesting first results and shed light on areas requiring attention. Many aspects are already truly encouraging. A grant to the community has allowed for nearly 370 community-managed loans for 213 individual beneficiaries in 5 groups with over 50% of women, for a total loan value of over USD 27,000. The original grant capital of USD 4,000 has grown to USD 5,000 via an Islamic finance approach. Repayments are near 100%.

Loans can be used for household improvements or income generation compatible with community marine resources plan. Each loan comes with a self-determined environmental commitment and as a result, legal fishing gears have been adhered to, 20,000 mangrove propagules have been planted and patrols and security of closed areas have significantly increased. In 2021 the MKUBA is now being implemented in 3 more communities in Zanzibar.


East and South Africa
Scale of implementation
Coral reef
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Fisheries and aquaculture
Sustainable financing
Sustainable livelihoods
Loss of Biodiversity
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Inefficient management of financial resources
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of technical capacity
Lack of infrastructure
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
SDG 10 – Reduced inequalities
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 16 – Peace, justice and strong institutions
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 6: Sustainable management of aquatic living resources
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 17: Biodiversity strategies and action plans
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources


South Pemba, Tanzania | Kukuu, Makoongwe, Fundo
North Pemba, Tanzania


  • Insufficient capacity and resources.

  • The lack of diversification opportunities is also often hindered by the difficulty to access any form of credit and a generally limited literacy in conducting small businesses.
  • Late repayments during 2020 (as a result of additional stresses related to the Covid-19 pandemic and from a lack of regular project follow-up), but has been overcome in 2021



  • Community members grouped into livelihoods groups to access loans.

  • Net fishers, seaweed farmers, mangrove users, Village Fishers Committee.

  • Wider community members.

  • Conservation area managers (including ministry, district authorities' staff). 

  • Mwambao-MCCC.

How do the building blocks interact?

  • Local management planning provides the basis on which the eco-credit groups will base their “environmental compliance” conditions for their members to access the loans. Members of the groups will need to respect these conditions, thus boosting compliance and implementation of the local management plan. 
  • The MKUBA/eco-credit groups established should be key subsets representing different parts, different sub-community groups for the population of a considered community (e.g. of a ward comprising several villages, or of a large village). For instance, if the management plan is focusing on managing an octopus fishery locally, it is key to have at least one eco-credit group that is formed of community members engaged into octopus fishing. 
  • Monitoring the financial, environmental and social indicators of the activity will help track how the eco-credit groups and their members are doing financially and socially and how the link between the loans and the environmental management actions (management plan) is holding. 



  • A high degree of satisfaction has been reported among the majority of participants, with community requesting to roll out more MKUBA groups and neighbouring communities expressing willingness to replicate the scheme. 
  • This degree of satisfaction provides the community with a tangible link between locally-led coastal and marine resource management, within Pemba Channel Conservation Area and the improvement of residents’ livelihoods
  • Strengthened local management plan implementation, with MKUBA groups’ participating in community patrols (additional to those piloted by the fishers’ committee), 20,000 mangrove propagules have been planted since inception. 


Rob Wild - GreenFi

My name is Tabia. I'm 43 years-old, married with 9 children and live in the coastal village of Kukuu, in the South of Pemba Island, Zanzibar. Many women like me in Pemba know about and have been part of HISA groups (Household Income and Savings Associations, based on the Village Savings and Loans Associations’ model promoted by Care International), before I joined one of the first MKUBA groups gathering seaweed farmers.

Seaweed farming is conducted mainly by women in Zanzibar. I am one of them but I am also a local collecting agent, selling dried seaweed to the companies buying in the archipelago. Besides seaweed, I also farm in my family’s plantations (e.g. bananas). I used my MKUBA loans to start a small kitchenware shop.

My first MKUBA loan of ~USD 130 together with another from my HISA group allowed me to secure some funding from the government and have enough invest in setting up my new shop. My regular income from seaweed farming and trading enabled me to repay my first MKUBA loan in 3 months, and to take another one to diversify my shop’s products.

This shop has really increased my overall revenue and provide for my family and 9 children. I believe multiplying sources of income is what all MKUBA group members should aim for, it is important to not depend too much on only one or two activities, especially those related to fishing or farming for instance, whose yields have generally not been increasing in the last years. But people joining a MKUBA group and borrowing need to also make sure they have enough regular income to repay their loan without putting them in too much stress.

Besides borrowing, being in a group gave me access to a few basic small business trainings facilitated by Mwambao and peer support from the members of the group. Now I feel much more capable of being a successful shop owner and I’m helping other women to find their own way and to conduct positive local actions for our environment, such as restoring our mangroves.

Caring for our nature is very important: if we destroy or harm coral reefs, mangroves and seagrasses too much, then more people suffer in the village with less or smaller octopus or even not good seaweed production. This MKUBA opportunity in Kukuu has helped show that even with small loans we can start other activities and take less from the sea to allow some time for fishes to come back. Even those not currently borrowing are now more interested in local management and see that is possible.

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Tanguy Nicolas Fauna & Flora International

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