Chris Cheupe, April 2018

SPACES spent lots of effort in order to disseminate information with the hope of improving the wellbeing of the people in the study communities.  Impact activities which aim at bringing change at the community have been done using both top down (high level workshops) and bottom up (community feedback meeting and dialogue) approaches.

With regard to these impact activities the communities have seemingly done a lot which have remained undocumented. Due to this, it is difficult to gauge the progress and challenges faced by the community members in their effort to apply the knowledge generated from the impact activities.

SPACES project has collected data in the Kenyan coastal sites including Kongowea, Vanga, Shimoni areas and Tsunza. The project has also conducted feedback meeting with these communities with an aim of disseminating its key findings. Apart from generously sharing data with the team members, the community continued with the support of sharing their recommendations with the SPACES team. The findings plus community recommendations were share up with impact actors during 1-1 meetings. Some of the actors showed interest to accompany SPACES team to the community to share with them the services they offer so as to increase the uptake of their services by the community members.

Youth enterprise development fund (YEDF) was taken to meet Tsunza community during an event known as ‘international mangroves day’. Tsunza community organizations with partnership with Community Action for Nature Conservation (CANCO) hosted this colourful event. Here the SPACES team had an opportunity to introduce the YEDF to the community to market their services which were welcomed with two arms.

Some months later, SPACES had an interest in knowing what has been going on at the ground. The team managed to meet leaders of 5 groups in Tsunza including Comtouch Kenya, Jambo puppeteers youth group, Njota njema disabled group, Gandini youth network, Ruchika self-help group.  Surprisingly, Tsunza community has done amazing work as a result of their interaction with SPACES activities.

During the Community feedback and dialogue meetings in Tsunza, community members came up with several suggestions and solutions to some of the key issues they face. The suggestions included 1.) capacity building on aspects like alternative livelihood activities, women’s empowerment, entrepreneurship skills, alternative fishing techniques, mangrove conservation, 2.) support on fish storage facilities, modern fishing gears,  improving infrastructure and 3.) access to financial institutions, markets, education, and mangrove licenses.

Since change starts from individual. The Tsunza community made various initiatives to bring change to the larger community as a result of the knowledge obtained from the SPACES. So far several achievements have been realized. These are:

  1. A lot of women have joined saving groups and around 10 groups in Tsunza have been formed and able to open bank account and started saving.
  2. The campaigns of environmental protection has taken root in this area which has led to the community members embracing conservation initiatives ; stopping cutting down trees and charcoal burning and encourage trees planting evident by increase establishment of trees nurseries in almost each household in Tsunza so as to recover the degraded areas.
  3. COMTOUCH Kenya have been able to write proposal and secure funds which facilitated the setting up of Community Forest Association (CFA) conservation program on mangroves and they are about to submit another proposal to SwedBio. In addition, the group was able to share the SPACES findings with the Public Complaints Committee (PCC).The Public Complaints Committee (PCC) is established under Section 31 of the Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act (EMCA) 1999 to investigate allegations or complaints regarding the condition of the environment or on its own motion, suspected cases of environmental degradation and to make reports of its findings and recommendations thereon to the National Environment Council (NEC).
  4. Group formation for fishers and they have encouraged saving and applying for funding
  5. Nyota Njema Disable group has been registered and assist its members on identifying livelihood activities they can engage in. They also offer soft loans to members, up to 3 times of their savings/contributions i.e. if a member’s savings is 500, they can be lend up to 1500. The group also offer internal capacity building on saving, entrepreneurial skills amongst themselves. More so, they have gained courage and find it easy to approach other stakeholders. E.g. they approached the county government of Kwale and applied for funds and got Kshs. 100,000. They shared amongst themselves to uplift their individual small business and the remaining money was used to upgrade their Income Generating Activity (IGA)-poultry farming.
  6. Jambo puppeteers

They have started income generating activities (IGAs) of trading in clothes and fish. They have approached Community Action for Nature Conservation (CANCO) to get supported with funds to do awareness to the community. They are in the process of applying loan from the County Government of Kwale (they have sent someone to pick the application forms)

  1. Ruchika self-help group

The group have visited Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF) constituency office in Kinango to enquire more on loan application

  1. Gandini Youth Network

The network was advised to form smaller groups by the YEDF officer Kinango so that they may be able to get loans. YEDF don’t issue loans to big groups.

The groups are currently on the process of getting the necessary supporting documents required by YEDF in order to access loans to start small business. The Suggested business ideas are Leso/Khangas and vegetables trading by Jambo Puppeteers, Poultry and Prawns trading by Ruchika self-help, Oysters trading by Gandini youth Network and Traditional poultry farming by Nyota njema disable group.

The community groups promised to continue to spread the information obtained from SPACES project to other groups and the entire Tsunza community so as to take positive measures to improve their wellbeing. The community also feel there is need for continuous sharing information especial from research findings in order to strengthen their capacities.

Finally, there seem to be a lot going on behind the scenes which needs to be uncovered. The communities are doing amazing unrecognized work. Therefore measures needs to be done to capture this interesting work which could motivate someone somewhere.



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