It's World Ocean Day, and IWA Publishing has a new Open Access Ambassador Spotlight blog to share!

Our OA Ambassadors raise awareness in their local communities about global OA movements as well as related opportunities through IWA Publishing. They are representatives of both the International Water Association and IWA Publishing and our joint goals to empower the next generation of water leaders and to shape the future of the water sector. These blog posts highlight their specialty and research focus, as well as emphasising the importance of Open Access publishing. 

This blog post comes from Farida Gitonga, an Environmental Lab Technician and graduate engineer, with a passion for improving access to clean water and sanitation. Connect with Farida on LinkedIn.

Many thanks to Farida for her contribution!One captivating feature of our globe has always fascinated humanity—the vast and mysterious oceans. The Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Arctic, and Southern (Antarctic) Oceans, together covering over 70% of our planet's surface, hold an intricate web of life, teeming with wonders beyond our imagination. These oceans provide vital resources, support a rich diversity of life, and offer useful resources.

To shed light on the connection between our oceans and ourselves to promote greater awareness of their significance to local communities, there was a sit down with Ms. Saumu Muhammed, Mr. Naasid Abushiri, and Ms. Maurine Nangeya. Ms. Maurine is a fisheries officer, while Ms. Saumu and Mr. Naasid are youth representatives and passionate conservation advocates for the Indian Ocean Port-Reiz Creek in Jomvu Kuu Ward. These three individuals dedicate their time to work within youth groups and other community-based organizations (CBOs) in the area, promoting sustainable use of Indian Ocean resources within the Jomvu Constituency in Mombasa County, Kenya.

Through this enlightening interview summary, we hope to ignite a sense of appreciation for these vital natural resources and inspire readers to become stewards of our oceans in their capacity at the grassroots level. It is crucial to highlight the need for collaboration and cooperation between relevant authorities and local communities on the shores of our oceans.

Sustainable Use of Indian Ocean Resources

Ms. Saumu and Mr. Naasid shed light on the activities of various CBOs and local management units that encourage the sustainable use of the Indian Ocean's Port-Reiz Creek. They highlight the economic activities, opportunities, and challenges these groups and CBOs face.

Ms. Saumu discussed the operations of M-PAWA, a locally registered CBO with 30 members. Previously focused on fishing and fish-mongering activities, M-PAWA has ventured into shrimp farming thanks to a grant from the World Bank through the Kenya Marine Fisheries Socio-Economic Development program (KEMFSED). This initiative aims to meet the high demand for fish, especially in the coastal area, by investing in the local community.

Plate 1: M-PAWA CBO members constructing shrimp ponds on Port-Reiz Creek

To ensure fairness and inclusivity, KEMFSED conducted a 14-day training program on proposal writing for all 135 interested CBOs and groups in the coastal region. These grants required the groups to contribute 10% of the total budget. M-PAWA members decided to donate their labour by building the shrimp ponds themselves, under the guidance of a KEMFSED engineer, predicting that they would bring employment opportunities to the local youth.

Plate 2: First shrimp pond awaiting stocking (Courtesy Ms. Saumu –Secretary M-PAWA CBO)

Community Collaboration for Sustainable Development

While several CBOs and groups engage in economic activities within the coastal waters of Kenya, Beach Management Units (BMUs) have been established to oversee and regulate these activities. BMUs were initiated by Coastal Guards to secure coastal waters from illegal and criminal activities while ensuring the sustainable use of resources for economic purposes. Under the supervision of the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KEMFRI), the coastal shores are divided into manageable units under community leadership.

However, despite the existence of BMUs for some time, the locals and members have only recently started benefiting from their services. Many members were not well-informed about the perks of BMU membership, such as deep-sea training, scholarships, funds to buy fishing gear and freezers, fingerlings, and cruise job opportunities.

One of the challenges faced is miscommunication between CBOs or local groups and the BMUs, leading to some operating without the knowledge of the BMUs. This lack of coordination makes it difficult for the BMUs to offer security and ensure the authenticity of projects for future funding. This can lead to conflicts and discrepancies between the number of proposed projects and the projects that benefit local communities.

Despite these challenges, the BMUs have presented various opportunities, such as deep-sea fishing, life-saving initiatives, and cruise training. The BMUs, CBOs and groups relying on the Creek also conduct regular beach cleaning after high tides. They also engage in activities like mangrove planting, selling mangrove seedlings, and protecting fish farms and bee hives belonging to various CBOs and groups within their territory.

On World Ocean Day, let us remember our ocean’s vital role in sustaining life on Earth. It is crucial to prioritize the protection and sustainable management of our ocean, not only for its intrinsic value but also for the well-being of future generations. Together, let us put the ocean first and work towards a sustainable future where our ocean can thrive.

Through the inspiring stories of individuals like Ms. Saumu, Mr. Naasid, and Ms. Maurine, who are actively working towards sustainable utilization of ocean resources, we are reminded of the power of community collaboration and the importance of local stewardship. Their efforts and those of numerous CBOs and BMUs are instrumental in promoting economic activities while ensuring our ocean’s long-term health and sustainability.

As readers, we can contribute to this cause by becoming ocean stewards in our capacity, spreading awareness about the importance of the ocean, and supporting initiatives that prioritize sustainable practices.

The latest from @IWApublishing

💧 "Disability inclusivity in infrastructure design is not just a matter of compliance; it is a fundamental h… 9 months 3 weeks ago
🌊 Celebrate with some of our marine-related journal content... ➡ 📑 Or… 9 months 3 weeks ago
⏳ DON'T MISS OUT: 10% discount on the APC when submitting before August 15th ⏳ Celebrate Blue-Green Systems' amazi… 9 months 3 weeks ago