Enabling Rural Riparian Communities to Conserve and Benefit from Wetlands in the Winam Gulf, Lake Victoria, Kenya
Poverty and population growth are two attributes that have been seen to cause pressure to the society as a whole. In communities living in proximity to wetland areas these have brought about the over dependence of people on the resources from the wetlands. These resources are obtained free of charge and therefore setting up an entrepreneurial venture that is based on them has proven to be cost efficient
The local communities therefore are very much dependent on these wetlands for their livelihoods. In the wetlands of Kusa Koguta Dunga and the Yala Swamp in the Winam Gulf of Kenyan Lake Victoria are the project sites and have all been designated as Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) by Bird Life International, but have no legal protected status. Being home to the charismatic hippo and rare bird species, these wetlands have tremendous potential for supporting numerous locally run ecotourism enterprises. There are also abundant resources for instance papyrus reeds, fish and ambatch treess among others which are being harvested and the community members use them to support their livelihoods.
There is also a common belief in all these wetlands that the land in the wetlands is so much more productive than the pieces of land that the community members have away from the wetlands. For this reason, there is a lot of encroachment in the wetland especially for farming purposes. This encroachment has greatly affected the flora and fauna that dwell in the wetland ecosystem.
Ecofinder Kenya and the Centre for Rural Empowerment and the Environment (CREE) www.conservationforpeople.org , are implementing partners currently running a three year project that seeks to enable rural riparian communities to conserve and benefit from wetlands in the Winam Gulf, Lake Victoria funded by the MacArthur Foundation.
To ensure the long-term integrity and health of the Dunga, Kusa, Yala and Koguta Swamps, so they can continue to provide valuable environmental services. Ultimately, it is anticipated that the conservation and sustainable use of these wetlands will form the basis for a more sustainable co-evolved path forward for people and nature in the Winam Gulf, and serve as a model of locally driven change that can be replicated in wetland areas throughout Lake Victoria and beyond.
Core project strategies
In order for Ecofinder Kenya to properly implement the proposed project, the following strategies have been put in place to ensure that the project goal is achieved.
|Participatory Wetland Assessment||bringing forth Exposure and exploration, which are the basis of understanding of the wetlands and the ways in which they can and do contribute to human well being.|
|Community Education||Bringing lessons of wetland assessment and conservation to the community at large.|
|Facilitation of alternative livelihoods||Assist local residents to begin exploiting the wetlands in sustainable ways.|
|Wetland restoration and protection||Empowering village-level organizations to collectively define and implement robust mechanisms for protecting the wetlands on a permanent basis and ensuring that the project builds an enduring pattern of change.|
|Enhancement of stakeholder participation||Educating actors at the local, regional and national levels about the wetlands and the environmental services they provide through Lake Victoria Village Wetlands Forum to ensure that such actors are aware of village-level efforts and are cognizant of what they can do to help ensure their success.|