The following is taken from Agatha Ogada's blog post on the Blue Ventures Website.
Here, Agatha accounts how economic restrictions have forced many local residents to turn to fishing, and how this is threatening the depletion of an important environmental and economic lifeline for the community.
We encourage you to read the full article and find out more how Covid is affecting Kwale county, SE Kenya. Accessible here.
As is prevalent across East Africa, fishing communities in Kenya have been some of the hardest hit by the pandemic. The lockdown of three coastal counties (Kilifi, Mombasa and Kwale) has decimated the small-scale fisheries sector. As people struggle to find work, many have turned to the ocean as a source of food for their families, as Abubakar tells me:
"This pandemic has turned everyone in the village to fishing. It is the main source of food and income for many people. The sea is now the only escape, we cannot run to Zanzibar, fishing is now our only way to cope… But this is of course dwindling our resources. We can only hope that the resources will have the ability to regenerate.”
Whilst the ocean is providing a short-term solution, this increased fishing pressure is problematic for efforts to rebuild struggling fisheries in the region. The curfew means night fishing is prohibited, so fishers who would normally fish in deeper waters have turned to the shallow areas for their catch, including the areas where we are actively trying to protect fisheries – the LMMAs [Locally Managed Marine Areas].
How can we manage the impact of Covid-19 to reduce the depletion of coastal natural capital assets, on which African coastal communities depend for their livelihoods, income and nutrition? Leave your thoughts below.