Data Sources

Information for this community profile predominantly came from Key Informant Interviews. The spaces team was received at Tsunza by  members of the Vanga BMU.


Rather confusingly, when considering the administrative divisions, Vanga can be referred to as a location, a sublocation, or a village. These are all found south of Mombasa (and of Shimoni) adjacent to the Tanzanian border.


Figure 1: Categorisation of Vanga Location (administrative divisions


Figure 2: Map showing Vanga village (red), border between Tanzania and Kenya (grey) and Shimoni village (orange)


Within Vanga location, one can see in the table below that Vanga is by far the smallest in terms of area and has the highest population density with over 800 households. However this census was done in 2009 and one Key Informant suggests that Vanga sublocation has about 7000 people.

Sublocation Male Female Total Households Area in Sq. Km. Population Density
KIWEGU 4546 4866 9412 1586 80.76 116.54
JEGO 3131 3406 6537 1161 41.11 159.03
VANGA 1973 2161 4134 832 6.35 650.66

Table 1: Demographic information for Vanga location (Kenya Census 2009)


The three main ethnicities include Digo (35%), Duruma (30%), and Kamba (20%).Within Vanga location, 50% are thought to be Christian and 50% Muslim. In Vanga sub-location, on the other hand, the population is 98% Muslim. In terms of migration, there are thought to be approximately 1000 immigrants in Vanga town, pull factors are more than the push factors with increasing numbers of Tanzanians coming to settle in Vanga.

Specific Villages

A recent report by Cordio (Mainer et al 2012) which was carried out in Vanga, reported that the Vanga sub-location comprises 4 villages; Jasini, Jimbo, Mgombani and Vanga villages. The whole of Vanga location is comprised of 29 villages.  For logistical reasons, and because we need a relatively large sample size, we propose Vanga Town village (as seen on the map above) as our study site. This report also clarified that the population within Vanga village was approximately 6500 people which would be suitable for our work.

Site Characteristics
Vanga is the southernmost town in Kenya. It is a coastal fishing settlement that remains untouched by tourism. The town itself is only accessible from the Kenya/Tanzania border post at Lungalunga, via a 17 km mud road through plantations, groves and forest. Vanga itself is built within the mangroves and has to be approached through the swamp which is often flooded at high tide. It is an area relatively rich in natural resources with two  rivers that flow all year round, the ocean, mangroves, forests, available land for agriculture and opportunities for sand harvesting.
There are two main access earth roads that require 4 wheel drive preferably, and get flooded. They are therefore difficult to access during heavy rains. In terms of local facilities, there are 2 health facilities in the area, 4 chemists, 8 primary schools and 2 secondary schools in the surrounding area. The enrollment rates for primary schools is 90% and 40% for secondary.

Figure 2: Main road in Vanga village and Vanga waterfront

About 30% of the area is connected with electricity, however the power is not regular. It is supplied from Tanzania and there are many power cuts. The Kenya power lines are in construction and there is 1 km left until this connection is complete.There are two major boreholes that supply water to the area, some use shallow wells, pans, and water from the River Umba and Mwena. 40% of people are estimated to have access to clean/safe water. Due to rising sea levels the boreholes are thought to get salt water influxes and making the water salinity levels increase.
There are a number of local institutions and organisations within the area.  There is however, going to be a re-organization of the departments as most departments operate in wards and some operate in the administrative location divisions.  
A number of local organizations also exist: CBOs-jimba environmental group, Vanga environmental group, Mbiweji women group NGOs- Kenya Red Cross, ACT-Kenya
There are diverse political divisions due to the diverse ethnic communities (more of a mix than other sites).There is support for many different political parties and the community is very mixed.Community leaders will include the village head or chief. Each community has their elders (e.g. Digo) but all work under the chief. There are also special committees which have representatives from various groups e.g.peace groups, disaster groups and community policing. There is also a new Nyuma Kumi Committee which is part of a new government initiative to enhance security.
The main livelihoods activities for Vanga village includes fishing, farming, casual labour, small scale business,employment and artisan work. A recent report in Vanga (Mainer et al 2012) indicated that fishing activities (as a livelihood) account for 45% of the in Vanga village; this was contested by the local fisheries officer and some participants. The participants said fishing activities accounts for > 70% of livelihood in the village followed by small-scale activities and farming. It was suggested that fishing and fishing related activities be combined into one category of “fishing activities” to avoid mis-reporting. The specific activities within farming include; rice,maize and coconut farming in that order. Most immigrants to Vanga engage in agriculture of fishing.
Farming is predominantly carried out during the rainy seasons. Fishing is also seasonal but takes places all year round, the catch however varies in different months of the year. Fishermen may have to move to other parts with their boats e.g. Malindi, Lamu, Tanzania etc….
As highlighted above, fishing is one of the most important livelihoods in the area.  Some of the most commonly used gears mentioned by Key Informants are highlighted in the table below.
A number of registered boats are also mentioned, with an estimated 100 canoes, 40 out riggers, 15 Dhows,and 10 Motor Boats in the area .
Figure 3: Vanga Fishing Net and fishermen
Throughout different Key Informant interviews, we got mixed responses as to exactly when the high and low seasons occur which may be dependent on experience, fishing gears used and fish species targeted however,in general there are two main fishing seasons; Kusi and Kaskazi. Kusi is the low season with strong SE monsoon winds . April to June is particularly stormy. However this leads to better prices for fish. Kaskazy on the other hand is high season and is experienced from August to March.
Certain formal regulations surrounding the fishery were mentioned by the EX Fisheries Department andcurrent BMU vice secretary and are included in the table below.  We did not however get access to secondary sources and hence these represent perceived views as to what rules and regulations are in place rather than an exhaustive list that may be obtained from various secondary sources.  
Once fish are landed, fish are auctioned. Traders will grade the fish and prices will differ depending on season,type and size of fish.  There are various fish landing facilities such as cool boxes, cemented floor for processing fish and an ice plant which is not operational.  The ice storage facility was constructed but was never made to work. The ice supply therefore comes from Mombasa in a large supply which can last for 3-4 days. There are 7 ice supplies (5 small scale and 2 large scale).  There are thought to be over 100 fish traders in different categories: Mama Karangas (approx. 40), bicycle traders, motor bike traders and large scale traders. 
The Ex Fisheries Department Officer provided some interesting historical perspectives as to how fishing has evolved in the last 10 years: Motorised boats started recently Ring nets more frequently used Better market facilities means fish can be preserved for longer Declines of fish Overcrowding of fishermen (many are due to have left traditional activities to join fishing, however they have no experience and are involved in illegal beach seine fishing as crew members) Flooding more frequent leading to post harvest losses as fish can’t be transported out of Vanga Speargun fishing is thought to be on the rise (due to its high CPUE) Infrastructure improvements has expanded market destinations New Fishery management is hampered as there is a belief  that availability and reproduction of fish is
controlled by supernatural powers (some believe fish is not a finite resource).
Most fishers are not familiar with the “saving” culture. A village bank was started in 2008 but was not well managed. It has since undergone a “revival” but the idea of “saving” is still not one which is familiar to many fishers. They believe they will “always go to sea and get fish so they are not worried about tomorrow”.Nevertheless, savings can be done through MPesa and microfinance institutions such as KWFT, K-REP and the Women/Youth fund.
The mangroves in Vanga are under the Kenya Forestry Service (KFS) management. Only licensees harvest and there is apparently very little illegal cutting as there are alternative building materials. Honey is harvested inthe mangroves three times a year and mangroves also allow for aquaculture which is harvested every 6 months.
Mangroves are partly managed by the VAJIKI forest association which has mangrove activities covering Vanga, Koma, Jimbo and Kiwegu villages.  KFS holds information where mangroves have been mapped and potential ecotourism sites have been identified.
The VAJIKI forest association member also provided some historical aspects of mangrove conservation and described recent changes:
 There has been an increase in community awareness towards mangroves and this has helped in their
conservation Funding has been received from various NGOs (EAWS, WWF, GET, UNDP) to implement mangrove conservation activities. Over time, mangrove cutting has reduced, and the use of mangrove charcoal has also diminished.Charcoal from Tanzania is now being used instead. Mangrove poles are less frequently used as housing is more modernised (use of stones).   Many people using mangroves come from outside Vanga.
There is thought to be very little tourism occurs in Vanga. Whilst there may be some local tourists, such as those on educational tours and research students from different school, the area has no developed tourism facilities. NGOs are being encouraged to market the area for tourism, but to no avail.