|People obtain benefits from nature. Sustainable poverty alleviation should support ecosystem services, the benefits that people obtain from nature, that are less extractive and non-monetary. Rather than focusing on the monetary aspects of ecosystem services, which may fuel resource extraction. Ecosystems are important for people beyond monetary benefits. For instance, cooking fish for instance fosters relationships.|
Over the past four years, researchers within the Sustainable Poverty Alleviation from Coastal Ecosystems (SPACES) project have been exploring how different forms of poverty are connected to ecosystems. They studied environmental contributions to wellbeing and poverty alleviation in poor coastal communities in Kenya and Mozambique.
The project was an ongoing interaction between 39 academic researchers and 28 research staff, interns, and master’s students. SPACES engaged with tens of stakeholders in both countries. SPACES had a focus on impact throughout the project. This has made the project less abstract and allowed it become more embedded in society, which has been one of its strengths. The team visited 16 organizations in Kenya and 6 in Mozambique in 1-1 meetings with stakeholders.
SPACES findings on the different dimensions of poverty have been highlighted in a recent article on Rethink.Earth. Fishers in Kenya occupy one of the more lucrative jobs along the coast, but many of them still miss meals and live in basic house made with mud walls and mangrove poles. To find out why, read the full story!
In Vanga, there is a high quality mangrove forest that provides several ecosystem services directly to the community. Soon the forest will provide services to people living in other parts of the world as well. Vanga has been chosen as the site to launch a community led carbon offset project.
SPACES researchers have collected baseline data on the mangrove forest quality and socio-economic data from the community. Another, ESPA funded project, CESEA, has also collected data in Vanga. The data collected from these two projects were combined to form the Project Idea Note (PIN), for Upscaling Mikoko Pamoja in Vanga.
Mikoko Pamoja (Mangroves Together in Swahili) is a carbon offset project in Gazi, Kenya. The community sells its carbon credits from conservation of the forest to buyers around the world. “The community plants mangroves, reduces pressure on the forest, and promotes the sustainable use of the forest. From these activities the community is able to reduce their carbon emissions”, said Lilian Mwihaki from the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI).
When carbon credits are sold, the money comes back to Mikoko Pamoja project and the community in Gazi. Mwihaki said “there is a benefit sharing scheme in place and the money is put back into the project or spent directly on the community. The community [in Gazi] has used the money on water projects and for stocking books in schools.” Also, two of the schools now have free access to clean drinking water.
The carbon offset project, Mikoko Pamoja, began in 2013 and will continue for 20 years! The project has been a success, and was recently awarded the UNEquator Prize in New York City last month. It was the first community based mangrove project in the world to successfully trade its carbon credits. From the success of Mikoko Pamoja, the idea to upscale it in another site was born. This is where Vanga comes into the picture.
In Vanga, the project, Upscaling Mikoko Pamoja, is only in its early phases. The Project Idea Note (PIN) has been accepted and now the team is working on the Project Design Document (PDD). The project leads are working closely with the Community Forest Association (CFA) in Vanga. Recently, the project lead held a consultation meeting with the wider community to get their input about the project.
Upscaling Mikoko Pamoja in Vanga has received support from CESEA (SPACES’ sister project) and the UNDP funded Blue Forest Project. Recently the project also received additional funding from the Leonardo DiCaprio foundation. The project is meant to last 20 years like the original Mikoko Pamoja project.
This is a great achievement for the SPACES mangrove team! The team used the SPACES mangrove data along with CESEA’s data to upscale the Mikoko Pamoja project in Vanga. We look forward to following how this progresses.
You can buy carbon credits to offset your carbon emissions from Mikoko Pamoja and other community led organizations here.
What has wellbeing got to do with the price of fish: A focus on fishers’ income might miss opportunities for sustainable poverty alleviation
SPACES research informs a call to consider fisheries benefits to wellbeing beyond income. An income focus can miss non-monetary dimensions of poverty, unequal distributions and whether it is spent and saved to improve people’s quality of life.
By Tim Daw and Ida Gabrielsson
For the past four years, SPACES has conducted research in coastal communities in Kenya and Mozambique. In the south coastal community of Vanga in Kenya, fishermen are less likely to be income poor than their non-fishing neighbours. However, they and their families are as likely as non-fishers to lack basic food, water and sanitation needs. This contradiction begs us to better understand how the wellbeing of poor coastal communities are supported by fisheries and how interventions can improve wellbeing while balancing the pressure on threatened coastal ecosystems.
Delegates discussing the global goal on ocean health in New York this week should carefully consider how fisheries contribute to wellbeing, and […]