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Flexible Multi-Partner Mechanism

Reducing poverty in Kenya’s coastal communities

KEY IMPACTS

  • 52 Kenyan coastal dwellers diversifying income through seaweed farming.
  • 570 crab-fattening cages supportingover 8 groups in Kenya.
  • 140 beneficiaries trained on seaweed production processing and marketing.
  • 67 trained on best management practices of milkfish production.
  • Over 268 000 mangrove seedlings planted.
  • KES 1.7 million overall initial income boost.

Tima Mwalimu Jasho, from Kenya’s coastal Kwale County, struggled financially for years, oblivious that the key to a better life was washing around her toes in the surf of the Indian Ocean: seaweed.

Now, Tima is taking full advantage of this natural bounty, which is in high demand in other countries. She is part of a self-help group supported by an FMM-funded project to reap the benefits of seaweed farming. “We’d been living in poverty, unaware that we were sitting on something that could help us,” says Tima, 52.

FAO’s training in business management and value addition enhanced the ability of 140 people to produce and process seaweed. FAO also provided drying racks and sheds, guidance to reduce post-harvest waste and assistance to develop links with markets.

In addition, the County Government of Kwale constructed a warehouse for the Kibuyuni Seaweed SHG group to ensure proper storage of seaweed.

Farmers have reduced post-harvest losses by about 80 percent from the start of the project, and the quality of the seaweed has increased tremendously.

“We have been supported to sell 41 tonnes of seaweed, which gave us more than 1.3 million Kenyan shillings (USD 13 000),” says Tima.

Kenya’s coastal communities badly need such income diversification. Many of them are dependent on fishing and they are among the poorest in the country.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows that Kwale County, which sits just south of the main coastal town of Mombasa, has a poverty gap (which shows the depth and incidence of poverty) of 41.8 percent, compared to a national average of 12.2 percent.

The group supplies seaweed in its raw form and earns additional income from value addition for products such as soaps, juices, salads and cosmetics. With its high fibre and mineral content, the seaweed can also be used as a soil conditioner and fertilizer. The group exports largely to America and Asia, where demand has been rising.

These activities have improved the living standards of the communities. The beneficiaries, mainly women, have put food on the table, built new houses, educated their children and purchased better building materials for their homes.

Tima herself used part of her earnings to build a small house as an additional stream of income.

Two grinders were purchased to compact the seaweed, which reduces transport costs and fetch a higher price per kilo (USD 0.50, up from USD 0.30).

The project is also boosting mangrove forests – which can increase fish stocks by providing better breeding grounds – and diversifying incomes in other ways in Kwale and the neighbouring Tana River County.

Hundreds of thousands of mangrove seedlings have been planted, while six supported groups harvested a total of 458.5 kg of shrimp, 850 kg milkfish and 280 kg of crabs, bringing in KES 465 000 (USD 4 518).