Field survey to understand changes in mangrove use and the implication to local community in Lamu Kenya
Amina Hamza (PhD student, Bournemouth University)
The coastal community in Kenya have strong dependence on mangrove ecosystem for their livelihood. Mangrove exploitation for building poles forms a subsistence livelihood for the locals with Lamu county exhibiting the highest dependence. Records indicate along with slave and ivory, mangrove poles made up a major regional trade by the 9th century. However, mangroves are threatened by both natural and human induces threats. In addition, Kenya has witnessed rapid development in ports and infrastructure which have had impacts on the ecosystem and the communities. The extent of these impacts on mangrove use in Kenya has not been well documented. Furthermore, the changes have had tremendous impacts on the community livelihood some of which are irreversible.
Bed made from mangrove wood, photo taken at one of the households interviewed
In order to understand how the use of mangrove resources has changed over time, the drivers of change and document community knowledge on climate change, I was awarded a grant by Bournemouth University’s Global Challenges Research Funds (BU’s GCRF) to conduct a field survey in Lamu, Kenya. The survey involved focus groups discussions with different mangrove users; and household interviews using semi structured questionnaires conducted in Lamu, Manda, Pate and Ndau Islands in June and July 2019. The four weeks field activity started with a meeting with the county ecosystem conservator and foresters at the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to collect information on the amount of mangrove wood harvested in Lamu and its monetary value and identify mangrove user groups in the area. KFS is the government department that is in charge with the management of mangrove forests in Kenya.
Participant in a focus group discussion at Pate Island indicating areas of harvesting
Preliminary findings are expected to be ready in November 2019. The findings will provide information on how environmental changes have influenced livelihood dependent on mangrove and provide possible adaptation options to increase local community resilience to environmental/climate change that will be disseminated to different stakeholders. In general, the research will advance current knowledge on changes of mangrove use and natural and human induced impacts on mangrove resources that will inform policy and assist coastal communities and governments agencies in current and future mangrove management planning. The activity is contributing to the broad aim of the interdisciplinary project Rising from the Depths (RftD) funded by GCRF involving several universities in UK including Bournemouth University.