On September 9th, 2019, the Kwanini Foundation was pleased to announce (several months in the making) the beginning of a one-year partnership with USAID PROTECT - this is the first project of its kind and it was scheduled to run for the period of one year starting in July 2019. Titled "Building a long-term partnership for managing marine protected areas in Pemba", the project's overarching goal has been to obtain scientific data which can inform and underpin the management decisions needed to protect the biodiversity and fisheries potential of the coral reefs of western Pemba.
The Kwanini Foundation would like to once again thank our partners in the USAID PROTECT programme, and we wanted to share an update with you all on the progress we have made over the last few months thanks to their help.
Community Team Recruitment
In October 2019, interviews were held by the Kwanini Foundation to recruit two head rangers for the Marine Protected Area (MPA). Their duties include patrolling the MPA and monitoring all activities within the area, providing daily reports of these activities and in addition any unusual or interesting sightings such as dolphins and whales. Their role also includes liaising with local fishermen and police, and educating local communities about the conservation area. They were also invited by the Foundation to help recruit and interview an additional seven rangers to assist them. This was not only carried out successfully but we are extremely pleased to report that, as discussed in previous articles, two of the successful recruits were ladies. All rangers have a rigorous training programme to follow using the Foundation's training videos (recorded and produced by our content team) in Swahili and practical skills such as boat handling using the boat purchased by USAID funding for MPA protection.
As part of USAID PROTECT, the Kwanini Foundation ensured that both genders were considered as candidates for Kwanini Foundation work, culminating in October 2019's open applications for the position of a female Gender specialist. Due to the quality and drive of the candidates, two ladies were recruited to cover this role; Rabiya and Aisha, a valuable pair of team members whom we have featured in several articles and newsletter updates over the past few months. This means female consultants working for the Foundation now make up 31% of our demographic. Their initial brief was to engage with the lady seaweed farming groups, which they carried out on site via a series of briefings, discussions and questionnaires which highlighted how these groups play an important role in the conservation of the reef, and investigated reef protection methods along side alternate sources of employment and income.
Community Projects Funded During the USAID PROTECT Programme
Working with the Micheweni District Commissioner, the Kwanini Foundation instigated a platform for raising money from tourists to fund essential assistance to local communities. Tourism in Northern Pemba is very limited, however the Foundation works very closely with the Manta Resort hotel to utilise the tourism present: the resort has around 20 rooms and is located directly next to the MPA. In conjunction with the Resort, the Foundation has developed the ‘Snorkelling for Conservation’ programme: this is a scheme whereby hotel guests take part in guided snorkel trips over the coral reef within the MPA, the proceeds of the tours coming directly to the Foundation. Local communities can then apply for their projects to be funded by this programme. Applications and the instigation of projects follow strict criteria and screening involving not only the Kwanini Foundation but also the District Commissioner and the District Council, and are judged based on their benefit to the community. Since the start of the USAID PROTECT programme we have provided the funding for installing a water pipe to a local village which previously had collected water from neighbouring wells and standpipes, and we are currently funding the build of two classrooms for a local school. This project is near completion but is on hold due to lack of funding brought about by the hotel closure due to the current global situation.
Training the ranger team in the by-law regulations
Rabiya and Aisha, our gender specialists, attending International Women's Day celebrations with the local community
Engagement with the Fisheries Committee and Stakeholder Events
Engagement with local fishermen is a priority for the Foundation as the majority of the local community rely on fishing as a livelihood. We therefore need to work with them to protect the MPA, with their understanding of the conservation requirements balanced by the their need for adequate resources. The introduction of the by-laws and regular meetings between the fishing committees and the Kwanini community team help us to maintain a constant update of any arising issues and cultivate discussion on the best way forward.
In September 2019 a stakeholders meeting was held at the Manta Resort. 50 local people were invited including the District Commissioner offices, local Shehias (communtiy chiefs), police, councils, tourism, other government departments and NGOs, village and fisheries committees and women’s groups. After an introduction to the Kwanini Team, presentations included a guest speaker on the Misali Project (an initiative with similarities to the Kwanini Foundation and our work) and our USAID PROTECT project. During the question and answer session a lively discussion was held with engagement from most of the group present. This meeting formed the backbone of future interactions, discussions and ideas between the Kwanini Foundation and many of the local community organisations into the future.
In June 2020, the Kwanini Foundation invited representatives of local stake holder groups to form a Steering Committee. Member groups include the District Commissioner’s Office, law-enforcement agencies, tourism sector, Shehia (town/village council), women’s groups, youth groups and fishing committees. This Steering Committee forms part of the ‘Bye-Law for the Conservation and Management of the Marine Protected Area’, and is an important aspect in the USAID PROTECT project. The purpose of the committee is to advise and make recommendations to the Kwanini Marine Protected Area management team. Individual Steering Committee members act as the representative for their organisations and bring issues, problems, observations and information raised by their organisations to the meetings.
The inaugural meeting was held today on 27th June when the meeting was requested to nominate group members and elect a chairman. They were briefed on their role within the organisation and asked to return to their group to discuss issues relating to the MPA at the first full meeting in early September. We see this as an important step forward in the long-term governance of the Marine Protected Area and in safeguarding the marine resources of Pemba.
Marine Protected Area Governance
During the course of our USAID PROTECT project we commissioned an ambitious study to pave the way for an innovative method of managing and protecting marine resources in the future. The study was undertaken by Conservation Capital Ltd. and suggests a new way of working which involved a public private community partnership (PPCP). This was only a scoping exercise to give us pointers for the future, we intend to take this forward in the coming months after we have shared the outputs with the various stakeholders.
In addition we have disseminated the content of the by-law, this is the local regulation that outlines acceptable and unacceptable uses of the marine area by all the relevant stakeholders, including fishermen, tourists, local people, seaweed farmers and so on. We hired a local advocate to explain exactly what the by-law means to every individual, defining how they must behave and how best to comply. As part of the final set of USAID PROTECT actions we are preparing a management plan to implement the by-law which will be ratified by the newly-formed KMPA Steering Committee as previously mentioned.
Coral reef survey programme
With grant support we have continued our coral reef survey programme which includes two survey periods annually in April and October and monitors coral recruitment and survivorship, coral cover and diversity and reef invertebrates, such as sea urchins and crown-of-thorns starfish. As part of the coral recruitment surveys we are looking to establish the primary factors which influence the survivorship of juvenile corals on reefs in Pemba. Four permanent coral monitoring sites, measuring 10 meters by 10 meters, have been established to monitor changes in coral cover and species inside the Kwanini MPA and are surveyed using high resolution photographs. Analysis of the data collected to-date is ongoing and we are hoping to establish what time of year corals in Pemba spawn and whether coral cover is increasing within the Kwanini MPA following protection. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic we were unable to conduct the marine ecology survey programme in April 2020, however we will resume as soon as global travel restrictions are lifted and it is safe for the team to return to Pemba.
Reef restoration programme
As well as surveying the reef, one of the main deliverables of the USAID PROTECT grant is the reef restoration programme. Over 10 years ago illegal dynamite fishing in the Kwanini MPA reduced large areas of what was once a vibrant coral reef to rubble. The steep slope and strong wave action causes the rubble to shift, preventing coral regrowth, despite the area now being protected from fishing. After much research we finalised the design of two reef restoration structures to stabilise the steep, rubble-dominated reef slope in the Kwanini MPA (rebar frames and a steel mesh) and started the installation in January 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic we were unable to complete the installation of the structures in April 2020 as planned, however the programme will resume as soon as global travel restrictions are lifted and the Marine Conservation and Environment team are safely able to return to Pemba. In our absence the local welders have been continuing production of the rebar frames so they will be ready for installation. You can find out more about our reef restoration programme by visiting the project page here.
Our water quality monitoring programme was established in 2017 to ascertain whether cool-water upwellings from the deep Pemba Channel occur on the reefs in the north-west of Pemba. With the help of the PROTECT grant we have been able to expand the programme, covering an additional three locations inside and outside of the Kwanini MPA. Using small data loggers which log water temperature at hourly intervals we are able to build up a continuous record of the sea temperature at depths of up to 25 meters.
The Marine Conservation and Environment Team are currently analysing the data collected so far which runs up until March 2020. The data has revealed that the north-western coast of Pemba experiences the warmest temperatures between February and April, when the water can reach 30˚C. The next stage of the programme is to install a further four loggers at a site 40 kilometres south of the Kwanini MPA and compare the water temperature in the north and south of western Pemba.
Alongside coral surveys, the USAID PROTECT grant has enabled comprehensive fish surveys of our MPA to be undertaken. These surveys, completed four times a year, cover an area of 7km2. Analysis includes identifying each individual fish to a species level to enable an accurate count covering all species of reef fish found. Identification is being done in such an accurate manner to gain a complete overview of the reef fish population for the Kwanini MPA. Coral reef fish play an important role in the build-up and function of coral reefs. Healthy reef fish populations are important for many different reasons. Specifically, on Pemba, fish are an important source of protein for local communities. As with all of our other surveys and Kwanini Foundation work, this monitoring will restart as soon as COVID restrictions are lifted
Our coral growth aid scheme in action
Citizen Science programme
The Kwanini Foundation launched the Citizen Science programme in June 2019. The goal of the programme is to collect data across large scales to improve the likelihood of detecting changes in the marine environment. Divers and snorkelers visiting the Manta Resort were asked to film short video transects of either fish or coral coverage during their recreational dives in order to collect this data.
Thus far, we have completed a trial period of the programme with a number of guests getting involved in the surveys. We also purchased two Go Pro Cameras for guests to record their footage. As part of our training, we prepared instructional videos for the dive team at Manta and participants in the programme. Several promotional materials were also prepared including posters for the dive center that have been on display since October 2019.
The Citizen Science programme will be re-launched following the closure period at Manta.
In order to work more closely with, and enhance the output of, our community teams in Pemba the Kwanini Foundation has been working hard behind the scenes to create and run a tailored and repeatable training programme. Our primary goal with the training programme was to ensure all our training modules were both accessible and easy to repeat should we recruit new team members or our veterans felt they required a retraining exercise. We also needed to overcome the limitation that the majority of our creative and consultancy team are based overseas in Europe or the Middle-East, and on-site training cannot be easily conducted. To this end, we decided the best course of action was to design each training module as a video tutorial, with a Swahili narration, and make them readily available on-site should the Kwanini consulting or creative team be absent during a training exercise.
Our training modules have been divided by relevant team groups, with each training video tailored to the team members watching - this ensures we do not overload our local workers with information and we keep the videos short, precise and clear. Our team divisions are as follows: the Manta Resort service fundis, the Dive Centre staff, and the Kwanini Ranger team. Some modules are applicable to multiple teams, and where this is the case we have ensured they are as detailed as possible without becoming unwieldy.
To date we have planned 26 video modules in total, divided between our teams, capable of fully training our workers to perform their jobs without the constant in-person supervision from the Kwanini consultancy team we are unfortunately unable to provide (particularly during the current global crisis). Of the 26 video tutorials planned, we have scripted, filmed, recorded narration for and completed post-editing on five with a further five aiming to be completed by the end of this next month. Our Creative Consultant is working hard to finish these modules as efficiently as possible (whilst still maintaining a high level of quality), assisted by Abdulrahim who we featured in our previous article on our Community Team for translation of scripts into Swahili and recording of a Swahili narration. It is thanks in part to the USAID PROTECT partnership that we have the capabiltiy to make these videos, and indeed have the staff to train.