Much to discover in Mida Creek: creating pathways to community resilience and sustainable development through the maritime cultural landscape in Kenya
How can residents of Mida Creek benefit from the rich marine cultural heritage that surrounds them but that they do not ‘see’? This project picks up this challenge by bringing together marine archaeologists, women’s groups, traditional boat builders, and digital creatives to engage with a range of stakeholders whose livelihoods converge on making use of the resources in Mida Creek, Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Gede National Park, and Watamu National Marine Park. The focus on Marine and Underwater Cultural Heritage (MUCH) as a co-designed forum tackles some of the most pressing development challenges at Mida Creek: gender inequality, deforestation, rising sea levels, depleted fisheries, and unsustainable tourism. Flagship activities include building a dhow-house to run workshops on traditional boat and canoe building, teaching important skills and values to targeted youth about the region’s rich marine cultural heritage. Working with a local women’s group, the project will train women in relating MUCH to their already existing alternative and additional livelihood (AALs) strategies based on ecotourism. The project will educate school children on organised trips to Mida Creek by developing a curriculum about what MUCH can tell us about the natural and anthropogenic drivers of ocean and climate change, as well as welcome visitors from all over the world to Mida Creek’s ‘living history’ maritime cultural heritage trail. A community-maintained digital platform that tells the story of the sea and forest in Mida Creek through a MUCH perspective willl sustain ‘deep context’ learning and generate understandings and awareness of the people’s maritime history and landscape in ways not currently realised. Maritime archaeologists will work alongside community members and other scientific researchers to carry out surveys, both within the creek’s intertidal channels and Arabuko-Sokoke forest that will more completely tell the history of Mida Creek’s mangrove forestry, its relation to transoceanic trade and the rise and fall of nearby Gede in the seventeeth century.