A community project in Kwale, in the south coast of Kenya, has been empowering members of the local community by helping establish development projects in a poor setup.

Mikoko Pamoja, or “mangrove together,” has been earning carbon credit funds from the conservation of mangrove forests along the coastal strip through its new approach to mangrove conservation.

“We produce 3,000 tonnes of carbon from our conservation efforts and sell to the international market and in turn uses the money in providing social amenities to the local community,” Atman Sadiki, coordinator of Mikoko Pamoja told Xinhua in an interview.

Sadiki revealed that the organization that is based in Gazi village near Gazi bay, has earned 5 million shillings (about 50,000 U.S. dollars) per year in the past five years. “The amount from the sale of carbon amazingly continues to increase yearly as we continue to replant the mangrove along the coastline,” he said.

As part of their mandate, Sadiki noted that much of the money is used in projects such as sinking piped water and boreholes, sports, water tanks, equipping local primary schools with textbooks for the local schools, supporting orphans and equipping local health facilities with equipment.

Sadiki noted that the organization has released freshwater kiosks to the community within their localities at an affordable price since the ocean water is salty and it is also far from community settlements.

He said that the projects are found in Makongeni, Gazi and Sali villages. “Out of the amount we receive every year, we spend 36 percent in our office administration, 32 percent on community development, 10 percent on mangrove restoration and the remaining on audit, salaries,” he added.

Sadiki said that they apply a bottom-up approach by asking communities what they wanted to be done by the organization as opposed to implementing a project without their approval. He however said that given the demand by the community, the amount allocated to the projects is not enough.

The organization’s restoration of mangroves in 117 hectares of land that stretches along the beach has helped the community abandon destruction of the mangrove for firewood and charcoal.

The concept of earning carbon credits was agreed upon in 2013 by the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

They listed the conservation of existing forest carbon stocks, sustainable forest management and enhancement of forest carbon stocks as activities that qualify projects to receive incentives.

George Wera, ecosystem conservator at the Kenya Forest Service Kwale County coordinator said that project has ushered a new face in the conservation efforts as local communities are for the first time seeing the important role that forests play. “The inclusion of Community Forest Associations (CFA) is playing an important role in boosting forest conservation along the Indian Ocean,” Wera added.

Anne Wanjiru, impact officer at Mikoko Pamoja said that the organization has hired two community scouts who patrol the forest on a daily basis, both at day and night time. “We also have ecotourism activities including a boardwalk that gives us money too,” Wanjiru said.

She said that besides earning carbon credits through the project, it has also been supporting fisheries sector and coral reefs that is a critical ecosystem in protection of mangroves from the waves.

Griet Ingrid Dierckxsens, Africa regional knowledge management and communication specialist at the UN Environment said that the projects are offering communities alternative livelihoods and in the end leaves forests intact.

The concept of saving mangrove and earning carbon credit was hatched by researchers at the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Institute following a study they did in 2014.

External carbon credit buyers send their money through Association of Coastal Ecosystem Services, which certifies the standard of the ecosystem project, and then sends their report to Plan Vivo Foundation, a Scottish based charity that oversees regular project operation until well implemented. Enditem


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