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State of the Coast Report. Towards an integrated management of Kenya’s coastal and marine resources
(2008). State of the Coast Report. Towards an integrated management of Kenya’s coastal and marine resources.. UNEP: Nairobi. 112 pp.

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Document type: Scientific report

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    This State of the Coast Report 2008 is the first of its kind in Kenya. It highlights the status, trends, threats and impacts to Kenya’s coastal and marine environment. The report has been compiled by a National Task Force constituted by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) in 2004. The Task Force consultatively worked through a series of workshops, literature searches and personal contacts with key individuals and agencies. Overall, a total of seven consultative meetings and workshops were held. The initiation workshop involved different stakeholders interested in coastal and marine resources in Kenya. This was followed by two full Task Force meetings where the first draft was developed. A Task Force subcommittee was established to fine tune the draft document before being circulated to reviewers. The reviewers’ comments were addressed by a subcommittee and the report finalized by a full Task Force meeting. A final stakeholder’s workshop in Mombasa brought together government departments, civil society, community leaders and policy makers to deliberate on the output of the report and decide on the way forward. The document is to serve as a foundation for the development of an Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan for Kenya. Chapter 1 of the report gives a general introduction and describes the processes that were adopted in preparing the report. The chapter also describes the biophysical settings of the Kenya coast including coastal geomorphology, oceanography, hydrology and climatic influence on the various biophysical settings. The geology of the Kenya coast is basically sedimentary with a well-developed fossil reef complex that is extensively exploited by the building industry. The coastal climate in Kenya is mainly influenced by the monsoon winds and is basically characterized by two distinct rain seasons. The long rains occur between March and May, coinciding with Southeast monsoons (Kusi). The short rains occur from October to December, corresponding with the Northeast monsoons (kasi). The annual average rainfall along the coast varies from about 500 – 900 mm/year on the northern coast to 1000 – 1600 mm/year on the southern coast. Average temperatures range between 24 oC and 30 oC. The two main rivers draining into the sea, that is Tana and Sabaki, exert a lot of influence due to their massive freshwater and sediment input. Tana River with its source in Mt Kenya is the longest river in Kenya with a total length of 850 km. It drains a catchment area of about 127,000 km2 and discharges an average of 4,000 million m3 of freshwater and 6.8 million tonnes of sediment annually, with peak flows occurring between April and June and during November/December (Kitheka et al., 2003b-c, 2005). The Athi-Sabaki River has a length of 390 km, and drains a catchment area of about 70,000 km2. The sediment load of the Athi-Sabaki River has increased tremendously from 50,000 tons/year in 1950’s to the current rates which range from 5 x 106 to 13 x 106 tons/year. This increase has been attributed to catchment degradation due to increased agricultural activities and deforestation in the hinterlands (Kitheka et al, 2003a-c, 2005). The various marine and coastal ecosystems including coral reefs, sea grass beds, mangroves, sandy beaches, sand dunes, and terrestrial forests are discussed in Chapter 2. These ecosystems provide important goods and service to the people; as well as serving important cultural values and a means of livelihood to local communities. Mangroves, for instance, provide a home to many commercially important groups of fish and yield an array of direct products such as fish, timber, fuel wood and medicines. The Kenyan Coast is also a habitat for the majority of threatened species. Of 159 species of trees and shrubs that are considered threatened in Kenya, 38% occur at the Coast; of the 71 species of threatened birds, 27% inhabit the Coast; while out of 9 threatened mammal species, five of them are found at the Coast. These species include marine mammals (e.g. whales, dolphins, and dugongs), sea turtles, shoreline birds, fishes and some other terrestrial threatened animal species such as colobus monkeys. Chapter 3 deals with these species of special concerns, highlighting their composition, habitats and status. Chapter 4 describes the coastal communities and how they interact with the environment and its associated ecological services. The coastal population is estimated at 2.5 million, which is 9.0% of the total country’s population. The largest indigenous ethnic group along the coast is Mijikenda that comprises of nine sub-tribes. Due to its socio-economic dynamics, the Kenyan coast has over the centuries attracted a multiplicity of ethnic and racial groups with the highest increase in population densities being in urban centers such as Mombasa and Malindi. In the Coastal region of Kenya, poverty is widespread in rural areas as it ranges from 30% to 84%. This has led to low enrolment rates in schools and low living standards in general, a situation that does not augur well for the coastal environment since the poor are most likely to engage in practices that are not sustainable and environment friendly. Land tenure has historically remained a big issue at the coast, which hinders development and conservation programs since huge tracts of land are owned by absentee landlords making many households squatters in their ancestral land. This needs to be addressed to ensure sustainable development and conservation of the environment. In Chapter 5 of the document, various economic activities at the Kenyan coast are discussed. Tourism and shipping principally contribute to the coastal economy with each sector contributing 45% and 15%, respectively. Marine fisheries is dominated by the artisanal fishermen who land 95% of the total marine catch, contributing 6% to the coastal economy; and is the main source of livelihood to more than 60,000 households. However, there is growing concern about over-exploitation and the associated declining catch within the inshore marine fisheries while the offshore deep sea fisheries have remained largely unexploited. The contribution of mining has remained low but is likely to increase once the new titanium mining project in the south coast starts active production for export. Agricultural production is, however, low because farmers still practice traditional tillage methods and in most cases, do not apply appropriate soil and water conservation measures. This has led to land degradation and perennially low crop yields. Consequently, the coastal population depends heavily on agricultural produce from outside the province. Due to unresolved land tenure issues, many of the local people do not have title deeds which they can use as collateral to secure credit for agricultural development. The problems facing utilization and management of coastal and marine resources are discussed in Chapter 6. Although the coastal region is endowed with rich natural resources, various forms of utilization have exerted considerable pressure on these resources. Destructive practices (e.g. dynamite fishing, forest clearing and land reclamation), pollution from industrial and domestic wastes, inappropriate land-use practices and unregulated development have singly and cumulatively led to resource overexploitation and environmental degradation. In addition, global climate change has led to abnormal rainfall patterns, droughts, floods, and sea level changes. The cumulative impacts of these problems have been significant physical alterations and degradation of habitats, leading to losses of livelihood as well as changes in social structures, loss of cultural heritage and conflicts in resource use. The main drivers of these threats and impacts on coastal resources range from social, institutional and macro-economic/micro-economic drivers. Some of the key drivers include increase in human population leading to increased demand for resources and natural phenomena including climate change, drought, flooding and sedimentation. Others include limited knowledge and technology for cleaner production and inadequate management capacity for natural resources. A number of institutions are legally mandated to oversee sustainable management of coastal resources. Section 55 of Environmental Management and Conservation Act (EMCA, 1999) specifically mandates NEMA to assess, plan and coordinate sustainable management of resources. Other legal and institutional frameworks relevant for the management of Kenya’s coastal and marine resources are discussed in chapter 7. Finally in chapter 8, the report identifies the opportunities which exist in the coastal region of Kenya for socio-economic development and the challenges which need to be addressed to ensure a healthy environment and sustainable management of coastal and marine resources. Some of the interventions proposed include: greater community involvement in resource management, adherence to the physical planning regulations for shoreline development; adoption of appropriate land-use practices to ensure soil and water conservation and improved crop yields to enhance food security; increased government support in coastal and marine conservation programs and application of an ecosystem approach in resource management. All these proposed interventions will need to be captured in the ICZM Plan currently under formulation. This State of the Coast Report 2007 will significantly inform the ICZM process.

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