The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) today launched the Japanese Government funded Coral Reefs Project in Kilifi County.
The project, dubbed “Enhancing Livelihoods, Food Security and Maritime Safety through Increased Resilience of Fishing Communities Dependent on Coral Reef Fisheries in the African Coastal Countries of the Indian Ocean” was signed in August 2019 and will be implemented in Kenya, Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles for four years.
“Over the years, FAO has contributed by promoting investment in sustainable blue economy, as well as the priorities given to promote the sustainable use of marine resources in Africa. I would like to reiterate our thanks to the State Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Blue Economy for the trust it places in FAO as well as our appreciation to the Government of Japan through its Embassy in Kenya for its strong support for the development aspects of the blue economy and related sectors.” Said FAO Representative to Kenya, Carla Mucavi.
The contribution from the Government of Japan to the Africa Blue Economy Development resulted from the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) 6 Nairobi Declaration. Kenya started to prioritize early Sustainable Blue Economy sector in 2018 as mentioned on Kenya’s Vision 2030 development agenda.
“Kilifi county has the longest coastal line in Kenya and this project will be very key in uplifting the livelihoods of the fisher folk who depend on this resource. We are therefore grateful to the National Government, FAO, and Government of Japan for their funding and continued support,” said Mwachitu Karisa Kiringi, the Kilifi County County Executive Committee Member (CCM) who was speaking at the launch on behalf of the County Executive Committee (CEC) Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperative.
The Western Indian Ocean is home to 16% of the world’s coral reefs and hosts the second coral reef biodiversity hotspot in the world.
In Kenya, coral reefs represent about two-thirds of the coastline where millions of people are dependent on fisheries and tourism. Fisheries generates employment for over two million Kenyans. Since 1998, coral bleaching increased, and Kenya is one of the countries that suffered the highest coral mortality. This poses the risk of declining fish stocks and loss of livelihoods.
This project seeks to protect coral reef resources for future generations by promoting sustainable use of marine resources. It will also assist in developing capacity of fishery communities including youth and women, improve fishery value chain and marketing, as well as increase maritime safety and reduce illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) by using digital technology.
To achieve strong and sustainable economic growth, Kenya is diversifying her sources of economic growth by prioritizing the Blue Economy, which has a great potential to contribute to higher and faster Growth Domestic Product. Innovation and technology in the coastal, marine and maritime sector, including harvesting of both living and non-living resources from marine and fresh water ecosystems could deliver food and nutrition security, energy, transport, among other products and services including serving as a foundation for sustainable development in Kenya.
To spur sustainable growth in the Blue Economy sector, the Government of Kenya has invested and called for support in the development of various Blue Economy sub-sectors in the country. It is against this background that the FAO, under its Blue Growth Initiative (BGI), and in collaboration with the Government of Kenya and other stakeholders, will be implementing the Coral Reef Fish Project.
FAO will also support the Government of Kenya as it takes initial steps in the development of the country’s Blue Economy Strategy, a key document that will provide direction for sustainable utilization of the country’s aquatic resources for sustainable development of the Blue Economy sector.
FAO’s Blue Growth Initiative
The project is part of FAO’s Blue Growth Initiative (BGI) that aims at supporting more productive, responsible, and sustainable fisheries and aquaculture sectors by improving the governance and management of the aquatic eco-systems, conservation of biodiversity and habitats. The project also aims at empowering communities (in particular the vulnerable communities engaged in small-scale production) to act, not only as resource users, but also as resource stewards.