Gazi Women Group mangrove boardwalk in Gazi Bay, Kwale County. PHOTO/UNEP
By PATRICK MAYOYO
When our mini-bus came to a halt at the Gazi Bay beach after meandering through Gazi village, we were welcomed by a group of jolly and excited women.
The women who are members of Gazi Women Group and part of the Mikoko Pamoja mangrove restoration project ushered us into their ‘restaurant’ where visitors stop for refreshments before embarking on a tour through the mangrove forest on the boardwalk.
Their boardwalk is an elevated footpath that was initially built with wooden planks that have since between replaced by re-usable material planks that enables tourists to walk through the mangrove forest as they enjoy panoramic view of the Gazi Bay.
The ladies restaurant is a coconut thatched open-air structure that is attached to the boardwalk and here they served us with a sumptuous and finger-licking meal of fried fish, beans and chilled tamarind juice.
Later our team that comprised of journalists, environmental experts and the civil society under Dunia Journalism and Climate Emergency an initiative by the French government to strengthen the role of the media as a tool for monitoring and raising awareness on issues associated with climate change and its impacts took a tour of the mangrove forest in the Gazi Bay on the boardwalk.
DUNIA journalism and climate emergency project brings together more than 20 journalists from Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya who include those from radio, print, online and television and is expected to enhance the coverage of causes and consequences of climate change in East Africa.
The project is supported by the French government through the Directorate of International Development (CFI).
The excited team took pictures as they enjoyed a cool sea breeze in the Gazi Bay as they watched fishermen paddle their canoes deep in the sea trying to earn a living.
One of the key take aways from the boardwalk eco-tourism project is the role it is playing in environmental conservation and empowering the local community economically.
The boardwalk provides incentives to the Gazi Women Group members by giving them an alternative source of livelihood to help reduce over harvesting of mangroves.
The boardwalk extends deep into the mangrove forest allowing visitors to sample the beauty of the flora.
The Mikoko Pamoja community-based Payments for Environmental Service (PES) project is a pioneer community-based project of its kind in the region to use sale of carbon credits to fund mangrove conservation activities and community development.
According to Ms Rahma Kivugo, the programme coordinator, Mikoko Pamoja was started in 2013 at Gazi bay as a small carbon offset project through a partnership with scientists from Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) .
Mikoko Pamoja is verified by Plan Vivo Standards and Systems to sell approximately 3000 tonnes of carbon per year over a crediting period of 20 years.
What started as a small community project mainly dealing with afforestation (tree-planting) or reduced deforestation (REDD) of degraded mangrove forests has been catapulted into international limelight.
According to, Ms Kivugo, some social amenities in the village such as water, sanitation and education are financed through the proceeds generated by sale of mangrove carbon credits in the voluntary carbon market.
Protecting mangroves through programmes like Mikoko Pamoja is a multiple win for climate, community and biodiversity and it also plays a key role in implementing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to, Dr Jared Bosire, Programme Manager, UNEP ~ Nairobi Convention says payment for ecosystem services (PES) projects like Mikoko Pamoja supports implementation of a number of SDGs.
“Sustainable management of mangroves through payment for ecosystem services (PES) supports implementation of a number of SDGs that include SDGs number 13 on climate change, 14 on life below water and number 1 on no poverty among others,” Dr Bosire said.
Recently, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned that climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution caused by unsustainable production and consumption are a great threat to humanity and concerted efforts are required to help reverse the trend.
Ms Rahma Kivugo, the programme coordinator, Mikoko Pamoja project. PHOTO/COURTESY
While speaking during a virtual press briefing on the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report, Making Peace with Nature, the UN boss said time has come for people to make #PeaceWithNature and tackle the climate, biodiversity and pollution crises together.
The Making Peace with Nature, study examines linkages and explains how science and policy-making can advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 and a carbon neutral world by 2050, all while bending the curve on biodiversity loss and curbing pollution.
“Developing countries need more assistance. Only then can we protect and restore nature and get back on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030”, he said, adding that the report shows that “we have the knowledge and ability to meet these challenges,” the UN boss said.
The SDGs are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.”
The SDGs were set in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030. They are included in a UN Resolution called the 2030 Agenda or what is colloquially known as Agenda 2030.
Some of the SDGs associated with a clean environment include: goal number six Clean Water and Sanitation, goal number 13 Climate Action, goal number 14 Life Below Water, goal number seven Affordable and Clean Energy, goal number three Good Health and Well-being and goal number 12 Responsible Consumption and Production among others.
A report by Global Forest Watch, shows that global tree cover loss reached record highs in 2016 and 2017. In 2018, roughly one soccer field of tree cover was lost every second and agriculture drove the recent record-breaking tree cover loss.
The report shows that the main drivers of tree cover loss were mainly commodity driven deforestation, forestry, shifting agriculture, urbanization and agriculture.
Members of Mikoko Pamoja mangrove restoration project in Gazi Bay, Kenya at work. PHOTO/MIKOKO PAMOJA
Nearly half of all loss was linked to agriculture, either through deforestation to make way for cattle grazing, oil palm plantations or other commercial commodities, or for smaller-scale farming and its expansion into forest areas.
Deforestation for large-scale agricultural commodity production drives most loss in Latin America and Southeast Asia, whereas in Africa 94% of loss is a result of smaller-scale shifting agriculture. For 98% of the world, these dominant drivers have remained unchanged.
According to, Dr Bosire, forests are a stabilizing force for the climate as they regulate ecosystems, protect biodiversity, play an integral part in the carbon cycle, support livelihoods and can drive sustainable growth.
“Forests’ role in climate change is two-fold. They act as both a cause and a solution for greenhouse gas emissions. Around 25% of global emissions come from the land sector, the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions after the energy sector,” he notes.
Dr Bosire notes that about half of these (5-10 GtCO2e annually) comes from deforestation and forest degradation adding that forests are also one of the most important solutions to addressing the effects of climate change.
“Approximately 2.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, one-third of the CO2 released from burning fossil fuels, is absorbed by forests every year,” he says.
Dr Bosire said estimates show that nearly two billion hectares of degraded land across the world – an area the size of South America – offer opportunities for restoration.
“Increasing and maintaining forests is therefore an essential solution to climate change,” he emphasis.
In our next and final story read about how to initiate, register and implement a Payments-for-Environmental-Service (PES) projects in Kenya.