Oceans Alive fills a gap with shared learning, building networks, and supporting change using our proven model for catalysing and enhancing locally-led marine conservation.
Our oceans face a significant crisis. Coral damage, deforestation of mangroves, poaching, and illegal and unregulated fishing practices. This is a major concern for the ocean ecosystem. This is even more of a worry as what happens in the ocean impacts us all on land. The oceans are closely interlinked with human livelihoods, the economy, the climate, and even matters of political security, as more than half a billion people are directly affected by oceans.
For a problem of this scale, with the potential to impact so many lives, we must start to take collective action and build better practices and behaviors towards the ocean. However, a significant gap is that a large percentage of the population is not aware of what goes on under the sea and how they are connected. Marine life and Ocean education are not included in the national education system at primary and secondary school levels. If we are to rise above this and take impactful steps towards more sustainable marine resource use and marine conservation, then educating the youth is the key as they are the future.
Oceans Alive (OA) is consolidating its experience with Kuruwitu (i.e. KCW-CBO and K-BMU) to develop simple templates, toolkits and training capacity to share this experience through education with local schools, clubs and fisherfolk in Kilifi County. Our objective is to raise awareness, educate and mobilize support for sustainable ecosystem management amongst coastal communities of Kilifi County. The intention of this program is to develop this mentioned experience as a knowledge resource that would be used to share and guide children, communities and fishers along the Kenyan coastline and eventually in different parts of the country to better understand the importance of the ocean and be advocates of their marine resource.
We're committed to sharing knowledge and raising awareness on ecosystems-based approaches and solutions to coastal conservation, livelihoods, sustainable use and management of marine resources. OA has started multiple initiatives to progress towards these goals. Since 2017 OA has run a successful volunteer program alongside one of our partners – The LEAP. This organization provides volunteering experiences for gap year students worldwide. OA is part of their Kenya program and has hosted more than 100 interns. Throughout their five-week stay with OA, students learn through practice about rebuilding coastal fisheries, empowering communities with the means to safeguard their futures, reversing biodiversity loss, improving food security and building resilience to climate change. OA curates their itinerary and ensures that the learning objectives are met. This happens through activities such as coral gardening, community service and waste management.
We have experienced that students who join our program come in unaware of the extensive connection between coastal livelihoods and the marine ecosystem services. They are unaware of how each plays into the status of the other, from governance gaps to influencing poor marine resource management and the resultant damage to the environment. This damage increases the vulnerability of those that depend on the coastal environment. The OA education thrust looks at the connectivity of human impacts on the natural resource and how it affects resource availability for the community to benefit economically and food security. The awareness OA focuses on applies primarily from EBA to the fishery. By the time the volunteers leave, not only have they gained a practical understanding of an ecosystem-based approach to coastal livelihoods applicable everywhere, but they are left feeling that they have achieved personal growth and are fulfilled by their contributions to the environment and community.
In 2021, to further bolster efforts to educate future generations on coastal ecosystem-based approaches and solutions, OA partnered with Ocean Eyes to carry out an education project, which has set out to teach local schools along the Kenyan coast on coral restoration and coral gardening, targeting 40 – 60 students. This factor has enabled OA to carry out this training and sharing of knowledge with more than 100 children and youth so far this year and with the BMU, other communities, and fishers in the Tengefu.
The OA Education program seeks to expose school-going children, communities and fisherfolk to the ecosystem-based approach to resilient livelihoods in coastal environments and natural resource management. It is focused on building their understanding and knowledge of their role along with the communities in which they live.
To educate future generations, communities and fishers on ecosystem-based approaches and solutions to coastal conservation, resilient livelihoods, sustainable use and wise management of inshore marine resources
To raise awareness of the importance of coastal ecosystems to food, energy and economic security of local livelihoods and build resilience through climate change adaptation
To expose future generations, communities and fishers to their CBNRM rights in the environment, fisheries, and wildlife, and their participatory right in coastal natural resource management offered by the constitution
To increase accessibility to education on ecosystem-based approaches to resilient livelihoods in coastal environments within the coastal education system, ensuring fewer children are left behind. In this way, we hope to empower future generations to become the drivers of change.
With an active approach, this program hopes to impart to the learner's knowledge that will raise awareness of the importance of the coastal environment, biodiversity, and marine ecosystem to livelihoods, food and economic security. This awareness is targeted as it is hoped it will increase motivation to the youth and the local community to protect and conserve the ecosystems and their biodiversity, through exposing the learners to the challenges in CBNRM and sharing the knowledge of grounded alternative nature-based solutions. Further, it is vital to the next generation to understand that the constitution of Kenya offers participatory rights to community nature-based resource management. This realization, it is hoped, will transform coastal peoples' awareness of their role as CBNRM and awareness of their need to be more sustainable in their livelihoods to ensure the perpetuity of ecosystem services within the areas.