Supporting community-led marine conservation: LEAP project launched in Kenya and Tanzania

Coastal communities in Eastern Africa are increasingly using sustainable approaches to manage marine resources to both improve the ecological status of their local environments and secure livelihoods. 

LEAP Launch in Mombasa

To support the conservation and development needs of these communities, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has partnered with Coastal Oceans Research and Development – Indian Ocean (CORDIO) to implement the Locally Empowered Area of Protection (LEAP) project in Kenya and Tanzania.

Both the Kenya and Tanzania components of the LEAP project were launched in February 2020.

The project is funded by the International Climate Initiative (IKI), of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).

Mr. Christopher Musumbu, Secretary Administration at the State Department for Wildlife Photo: IUCN ESARO

Speaking at the launch ceremony for the Kenya component which was held in Mombasa, Mr. Christopher Musumbu, Secretary Administration at the State Department for Wildlife said: “In 2018, Kenya hosted the Sustainable Blue Economy conference and has continuously shown great leadership in its endeavors to make the sustainable blue economy a reality for our country and our region. This LEAP initiative is timely. We believe it will contribute towards development of a sustainable blue economy for Kenya and the Western Indian Ocean region.”

“Timothy Andrew, Nairobi Convention Policy and Governance officer said: “Today, because of its particular exposure and vulnerability, the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region is facing the full scale of the climate and biodiversity crisis, directly putting millions of lives at risk. The Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) are designed to address local issues by local people. Working together as government, NGOs, development partners and communities is critical as LMMAs need support of various administration levels.”

Group discussions at the LEAP launch Photo: IUCN ESARO

During the launch, participants who included representatives from  communities, county government and local NGOs showcased examples of protected and conserved areas including existing Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) and government supported Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) approaches in Kenya.

“More than 60 million people directly depend on the rich coastal and marine environment. We have the opportunity to build a better world and put an end to the loss of biodiversity together with addressing increasing inequalities, poverty, health, sustainability challenges as well as the climate change crisis,” said IUCN Regional Program Co-ordinator, Mr Charles Oluchina.

The Kenya and Tanzania components of the project officially started in September 2019 and will last for four years with investment in policy-related activities, infrastructure, conservation and restoration actions, training, public awareness programmes, and introduction of sustainable funding mechanisms.

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