KMFRI Engages Coastal Counties to Strengthen Collaborative Research

Mombasa, Kilifi and Lamu Present Wish Lists to KMFRI as Plans to strengthen Joint Collaboration in Demand Driven Research and Innovation Commence

By Melckzedeck K. Osore

 Hon. John Safari Mumba (R) Chairman of KMFRI Board of Management makes opening remarks at the inaugural Meeting of the Technical Committee on County Engagement held at KMFRI on 22nd October, 2019.


After successful completion of the World Bank funded Kenya Coastal Development Project (KCDP) in 2017, KMFRI management tasked a core team of scientists in April 2018 to spearhead consultative discussions with the six coastal county governments whose communities were the main beneficiaries of the Project The Team was tasked to meet with the County leadership as well as resource management agencies to ensure continuity of the research interventions implemented under KCDP. The interventions included World Bank recommendations captured during the End of Project evaluation and the sustainability plans proposed by KCDP implementing institutions. The overall objectives of the consultations was to: 1)  identify and prioritize the coastal and marine research needs for each county, 2) develop county specific research work-plans and budgets, and 3) identify areas of collaboration including co-funding of priority programmes in accordance with KMFRI’s research strategy.

The Consultative Team embarked on county visits to develop blue prints of sustainability plans for county projects on fisheries, early childhood education, community health, tourism, community table banking and various other economic sectors earmarked in the County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs).  Joint deliberations were held with county leaders and experts on how to domesticate the innovations developed by KMFRI and eventually incorporate them in the CIDPs.

The emerging research and capacity development needs in the counties  that were identified included: fisheries value addition and market linkages, training on fish feed formulation, development of hatchery technology, diversification of livelihood programmes  to ease pressure on aquatic resources, diversification of aquaculture species, assessment of how Beach Management Units (BMUs) operate and improvement on local traditional technologies.

 Outcomes of Consultative Meetings

On 24th July, 2018, the Deputy Governor for Kwale HE Fatuma Achani and the County Executive Committee (CEC) member responsible for fisheries Hon. Joanne Nyamasyo  invited KMFRI to launch the improved fried fish display boxes developed by the KMFRI Enterprises Service (KES) to local fish vendors commonly known in Kiswahili as “Mama Karanga”. The display boxes were distributed to local women groups operating in all the 20 administrative wards in the four Sub-counties of Kwale County: Matuga, Lungalunga, Kinango and Msambweni.

The second outcome was witnessed the following month in Taita Taveta County. Mariculture Department of KMFRI received invitation from the County’s Deputy Governor HE Majala Mlagui and the CEC responsible for fisheries Hon. Davis Mwangoma to participate in the Taita Taveta County Agricultural Field event on 17th August, 2018 and showcase KMFRI’s mariculture products and services. Thereafter on 18th August, 2018, KMFRI was requested to organize sessions on fisheries management for fisher-folk of Lake Jipe and also lead a guided field tour in Sub-counties of Taveta and Wundanyi to train Community Based Organisations (CBOs) on modalities of revamping community owned fish farms.

Following the successful outcomes from engagement with the counties governments of Kwale and Taita Taveta, as well as renewed national interest in the fisheries sector after Kenya hosted the global Blue Economy (BE) Conference in November, 2018,  Mombasa County Government took the initiative to further engage with KMFRI. The CEC responsible for fisheries Hon. Hassan Mwamtoa and senior fisheries officers from the County visited KMFRI and held discussions with the Director. Decision was reached to hold regular joint meetings to strengthen partnerships with not only Mombasa County but also to involve the Governments of all the coastal counties.

Technical Committee on County Engagement formed

During the hosting of Mombasa County Fisheries CEC by KMFRI Director in June 2019, the need for a more strategic approach in engaging the counties led to the establishment of the KMFRI Technical Committee on County Engagement. Dr. Gladys Okemwa Moragwa, Senior KMFRI Scientist responsible for fisheries research was appointed as the Liaison Officer in-charge of chairing the newly formed Technical Committee consisting of experts in fisheries, socio-economics, mariculture, data management, oceanography and hydrology. This is critical in implementing KMFRI’s strategic focus on conducting demand-driven research and innovations for national development. Her role will include planning and coordinating meetings of the Committee and submitting monthly reports of activities to the Director of KMFRI.

Dr. Gladys Okemwa Moragwa, newly appointed KMFRI County Liason and Chair of the Technical Committee on County Engagement

The inaugural meeting with the Technical Committee was recently held at KMFRI on 22nd  October, 2019 and invitation extended to all the coastal counties. The meeting was hosted by the KMFRI Board of Management (BOM) Chairman Hon. John Safari Mumba assisted by Deputy Directors for Ocean and Coastal Systems - Dr. Renison Ruwa and Fresh Water Systems - Dr. Enoch Wakwabi. In attendance were Lamu County CEC responsible for fisheries Hon. Dr. Charles Gichohi, Kilifi County Chief Officer for Fisheries Mr. Mwakai Mwakiti, the County’s Fisheries Director Mr. David Bett and Fisheries Officer Peter Mramba Mweni. Mombasa County Fisheries Officers Ms Amina Khamisi and Ms Asha Juma Mlingo, and 15 Senior KMFRI research scientists also attended.

County representatives were tasked to present a summary of ongoing or new activities that require KMFRI intervention. Resolutions on the way forward to  strengthen collaboration and create synergies were also made. Senior KMFRI reseachers presented the Institute’s mandate and available infrastructure, on-going mariculture activities and opportunities for BE, value addition in fisheries, emerging results from research conducted on-board the KMFRI research vessel Mtafiti, achievements of KCDP on community engagement and ways of improving perceptions of communities regarding monitoring and evaluation of projects. Dr. Moragwa presented ongoing fisheries activities at KMFRI including trends, challenges and opportunities available in the marine fisheries of Kenya.

Way forward

Regular communication and exchange of knowledge was singled out as one of the critical aspects required to effectively engage and sustain the joint activities of the Committee. The Chair of KMFRI Technical Committee on County Engagement, Dr. Moragwa, was therefore requested to share with the other coastal counties the deliberations of this inaugural meeting as soon as possible. The Chair was also tasked to share with the counties the reports and minutes of all previous consultative meetings held in order to revamp future engagements.

Other deliberations on the way forward included:

  • Fast tracking development of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) between KMFRI and the counties;
  • Ensuring that the activities of the Committee are aligned with CIDPs of the six counties and the KMFRI strategic Plan;
  • KMFRI was requested to explore and prioritize diversification of mariculture species as a critical activity.