Earning an income off mangrove trails and traditional Swahili dishes is a reality for seascape communities. The Wasini mangrove boardwalk, located on the serene Wasini Island at the heart of the Shimoni-Vanga seascape, is an initiative of the Wasini Women Group. The group has been funded by the GEF-Small Grants Programme (operational phase 6) with the goal to improve their business model in order to manage their finances better and attract more visitors.
This project “Conservation of Marine Resources for Improved Community Livelihood in Wasini Island” seeks to address the increasing poverty levels within the local community, particularly among youth and women, by providing alternative income options and reducing overdependence on local natural resources as well as address resource degradation by promoting ecotourism, restoration of mangroves and improve solid waste management with the Wasini Island.
While at Wasini Island, visitors can walk along the cool and relaxing mangrove trails before enjoying a delicious traditional Swahili meal prepared by members of the group. Proceeds from the business are used to cater to the villager’s education and medical expenses among other pressing needs.
While at the boardwalk, one can gaze at groupings of massive fossil coral that stand out, resembling familiar animals such as elephants and crocodiles. Other than visiting the mangroves and enjoying a tasty meal, the island offers experiential village tours of Wasini people and their culture.
The nearby marine waters have extensive seagrass beds which in previous years provided rich fishing grounds for local and inshore fishing communities. The resources, however, face various threats which include over-exploitation, resource use conflicts, limited awareness among local community members on the applicable national laws and policies, and climate change. The group carries out various activities including coral and mangrove conservation, managing the boardwalk as a source of revenue generation to support education, health, clean drinking water and waste management.
So far, the following milestones have been achieved:
● Publication of the recipe book “Flavours of Wasini” which is available for sale to the public
● Attraction of funding from other sources
● Completed construction of a modern absolution block
● Training of group members on procedures and best practices for ticket checks, prevention of revenue fraud, business planning, and management
● Training of scouts on the management of the conserved area