Mikoko Pamoja is a pioneering mangrove conservation and village development project in Gazi Bay, on the south coast of Kenya. Mikoko Pamoja means “Mangroves Together” – and that is exactly what is happening. Instead of cutting down Mangroves, the villagers are protecting these “Blue Forests”. Mikoko Pamoja is a model for mangrove villages around the world. It’s the first community project to use the sale of bio carbon credits from the mangrove ecosystem to bring conservation and development together. Mangroves are an essential part of vital marine ecosystems. They provide a breeding ground for fish and a buffer between land and sea. They protect seagrass meadows and coral reefs from silting; they protect crops and drinking water from salt water contamination; and they are a natural defence against sea storms and coastal erosion. But mangroves are in rapid decline globally. Local communities and people from further afield, enter the communal forests to cut mangrove poles for timber. In Kenya, this has resulted in the destruction of 20% of mangroves over the last 30 years. This loss has resulted in the decline of fish stocks. Since villagers get almost all their protein from fish, this hits hard at the most basic level. The delicate marine ecosystems are also impacted and the seagrass meadows and coral suffer from silting and pollution from the land. Flooding from sea storms has also increased. Through Mikoko Pamoja, the “Blue Forests” are now being protected and seen for their true value.
Local people now have long term security of protein from viable fisheries, crops are protected and the coast is naturally defended against sea storms. The community decides how they want to spend the project income. Making sure each child has a school book has been an early priority… and the schools are now sending students on to high schools for the first time. Pumps funded by Mikoko Pamoja also provide clean drinking water for several hundred children in the two primary schools in Gazi and Makongeni. 4,500 people in the wider community also benefit from clean drinking water. People no longer carry water from a far. Jobs have been created for two forest guards and one coordinator. The vision for Mikoko Pamoja is to ensure enough support is found to keep the project developing, and to roll out the project as a flagship for other “Blue Forest villages” in Kenya and elsewhere. The first replication of the project is already underway at Vanga Blue Forest, close to Tanzania.
After winning the prestigious United Nations Development Programme Equator Award in 2017 (our 101Vision was shown at the Award Ceremony in New York – see below), Hollywood actor, Leonardo DiCaprio stepped in to support expansion of the project through the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.