Community Marine Conservation. The start of the Locally Managed Marine Area movement in Kenya in response to the decline of fish in Kuruwitu, on the North Kenya coast.

Des Bowden
Publié: 28 août 2018
Dernière modification: 02 octobre 2020
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Kuruwitu Conservation and Welfare Association(KCWA) was set up in 2003 by members of the community concerned about the degradation of their seas. Over-fishing and effects of climate change needed to be addressed before the marine ecosystem was damaged beyond repair. Fishers and concerned residents who remembered how healthy and productive the sea had been in the past felt it necessary to act before it was too late. In 2005 they took the unprecedented step of setting aside a 30-hectare Marine Protected Area (MPA). This was the first coral based Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) in Kenya. Twelve years on, the area has made a remarkable recovery. With fishing prohibited within the MPA, fish have grown in abundance, size and diversity. Fish catches in the area have improved,and alternative income generating enterprises have been introduced. Kuruwitu has become a model for sustainable marine conservation. The KCWA share their knowledge with other local and regional coastal communities.


Afrique de l'Est et du Sud
Ampleur de la mise en œuvre
Forêt côtière
Herbiers marins
La mer ouverte
Mont sous-marin / dorsale océanique
Récif corallien
Écosystèmes marins et côtiers
Accès et partage des avantages
Acteurs locaux
Cadre juridique et politique
Financement durable
Moyens d'existence durables
Pêche et aquaculture
Perte de biodiversité
Acidification des océans
Montée du niveau des mers
Récolte non durable, y compris la surpêche
Manque d'accès au financement à long terme
Extraction de ressources matérielles
Changements dans le contexte socio-culturel
Manque de capacités techniques
Mauvaise gouvernance et participation
Manque de sécurité alimentaire
Chômage / pauvreté
Objectifs de développement durable
ODD 3 - Bonne santé et bien-être
ODD 4 - Éducation de qualité
ODD 11 - Villes et communautés durables
ODD 12 - Consommation et production responsables
ODD 14 - Vie aquatique
Objectifs d’Aichi
Objectif 6: Gestion durable des ressources vivantes aquatiques
Objectif 11: Aires protégées et conservées
Objectif 15: Restauration et la résilience des écosystèmes
Objectif 17: Stratégies de la biodiversité et des plans d'action
Objectif 19: Partage de l'information et de la connaissance
Cadre de Sendai
2: Réduire nettement, d’ici à 2030, le nombre de personnes touchées par des catastrophes.
3: Réduire, d’ici à 2030, les pertes économiques directes dues aux catastrophes en proportion du produit intérieur brut (PIB).
4: Réduire nettement, d’ici à 2030, la perturbation des services de base et les dommages causés par les catastrophes aux infrastructures essentielles, y compris les établissements de santé ou d’enseignement, notamment en renforçant leur résilience.
5: Augmenter nettement, d’ici à 2020, le nombre de pays dotés de stratégies nationales et locales de réduction des risques de catastrophe.
6: Améliorer nettement, d’ici à 2030, la coopération internationale avec les pays en développement en leur fournissant un appui approprié et continu afin de compléter l’action qu’ils mènent à l’échelle nationale pour mettre en œuvre le présent Cadre.


Kilifi, Coast Province, Kenya
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Kuruwitu is mostly a subsistence-based fishing community and relies on the local marine resource for its livelihood. The increase in population meant more fishers in the area leading to overfishing. Desperation meant smaller fish were being caught often using unsustainable fishing techniques. Smaller catches led to a reduction in income to an already impoverished community who had no other skills other than fishing. The fishing grounds became unsustainable, and fishers were no longer able to feed their families leading to increased crime. One of the significant challenges was getting the majority of fishers to come together and understand that the closure would benefit them in the long term. Working towards a solution of sustainable fisheries the situation of illegal nets needed to be addressed. Funding was required to replace the nets and to initiate alternative enterprises. This was difficult with a new, unproven project. Poaching from the minority also needed to be addressed.


Improved catches benefitted the fishing community and livelihoods improved. KCWA engaged youth in non-marine based income activities and training. A women's group was set up, and a marine-based education programme was established for local children.

Comment les blocs constitutifs interagissent-ils entre eux dans la solution?

Although the set-up of an MPA is complicated and relies on many interactive factors, three main ingredients need to be present throughout - legal framework, management and community buy-in and benefit. They are all connected and need to work separately and in unison. An institutional framework with legal requirements and management procedures is necessary to create a solid foundation. For conservation to work in areas where poverty is present, there has to be a welfare component.



The development of sustainable non-fishing based initiatives has shifted dependence on subsistence fishing taking pressure off the fishing grounds. Fish stocks have improved dramatically within the LMMA, and an independent report shows a considerable increase in fish biomass and biodiversity of all marine life in the area. This has increased fish catches in the neighbouring fishing grounds improving livelihoods. Turtles and nests in the area are protected through a community compensation scheme. Communities from along the coast and from other neighbouring countries visit Kuruwitu to see our living classroom. At least 20 other similar projects have started by other coastal communities inspired by KCWA. KCWA demonstrated the importance of community involvement in natural resource management plans; a principle that has influenced a change of policy away from the state to the local communities. Kuruwitu has been chosen to pilot a co-management initiative working with various stakeholders covering an area of approximately 100 square kilometres. This is one of the first collaborative management schemes of its kind on the Kenyan coast and will set a precedent in the future.


Des bowden

Up and down the Kenyan Coast there is a remarkable upsurge in communities beginning to think differently about the marine resources they depend on. A new generation of fishers is looking for ways to responsibly manage their resources to ensure not only their own future but beyond. For generations, fisherfolk all along the Kenyan coast have been able to both put food on the table and make a subsistence living from fishing. However, there came a point where the size of fish and the numbers caught began to reduce to a point where they could no longer live this way. In a very short period, fisherfolk were facing the collapse of the only livelihood they knew. This slow-burn crisis focused attention on a closer look at the issues affecting what was, and in most cases, what wasn't being landed in their nets. ‘We never questioned how we lived. Our fathers and grandfathers were fishermen, and in our village, it was the only path we knew. When our nets began to fail, we were faced with an unknown future.' Dickson Juma, Fisherman. The main factor identified was the overpopulation in the area which led to overfishing. A community body, the Kuruwitu Conservation and Welfare Association (KCWA) was set up to ensure the community had a say in the management of the resources they depended on. With the help of strategic partners, institutional frameworks and legal structures were set up. After an in-depth consultation, in 2006 the Association voted to close off part of the lagoon area a marine protected area. The rejuvenation of fish stocks in the area was visible quickly, and the fishermen’s catches in the surrounding area began to increase. Funding support helped KCWA set up corresponding alternative income generating enterprises training fishers and their families in other vocations and creating employment taking pressure off the fragile marine environment. Fifteen years on and the trickle of visitors is a modest but steady stream who are happy to pay to snorkel within the healthy and vibrant marine protected area. In 2017, the KCWA was the proud winner of the UNDP's Equator Prize is awarded to recognise outstanding community efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Recognition for the hard work and sacrifice of the community for a larger, common goal, has been an important milestone in the project's development. 

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Des Bowden United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Kuruwitu Conservation and Welfare Association, Oceans Alive Trust, Coastal Oceans Research and Development – Indian Ocean (CORDIO) East Africa, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Western Indian Marine Science Association (WIOMSA), Watamu Marine Association (WMA)