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Kwale Island


Conservation benefit: Protection of endangered species and conservation of a 741-acre mangrove forest for 10 years

Community benefit: Construction of a 158,503-gallon water cistern and support of community awareness program

Date Approved: 06.2013


This project protects mangroves, which trap more CO2 than any other kind of forest and as a result, slow global warming.

Tanzania’s Kwale Island has an area of 7.1 square kilometers (2.7 square miles) and is located approximately 140 kilometers (87 miles) south of Dar es Salaam. The island is located in Mkuranga District, Pwani Region and has a population of nearly 2,500. A 300-hectare (741-acre) mangrove forest is located on the island, and the surrounding marine waters are a renowned ecological hotspot. There are various turtle species, whale sharks, migratory humpback whales, and the only resident population of dugongs along the East African Coast. The people on the island depend on the extensive coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass beds. But these natural resources are being damaged from overfishing, use of destructive gear, clear-cutting, and climate change.

Local organizations Action for Conservation, Research and Development in Africa and Umoja wa Wavuvi Wadogo Wadogo Dar es Salaam are launching a project to enhance stewardship of coastal and marine resources. They are working to protect Kwale Island’s mangrove forest and species such as turtles, dugongs, and whale sharks.

The community has agreed to protect its 300-hectare (741-acre) mangrove forest for at least 10 years. In return, Seacology is funding construction of a 600 cubic meter (158,503-gallon) cistern to store rainwater for the dry season. There are no sources of freshwater  on the island, and most residents lack access to potable water. The lack of clean water causes health problems, affecting the island’s children in particular. Seacology will also fund conservation-related activities such as demarcation of the protected area and mangrove replanting.

Project Updates

June 2015

East Africa Field Representative Dishon Murage attended the dedication ceremony for the project, which was attended by a delegation from the government ministry in charge of forests and water, in April 2015. Conservation activities are ongoing.

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January 2015

Community members have drafted bylaws to protect the forest; they will be finalized and signed by community leaders and the Mkuranga District Director in January 2015. In addition, community members planted 1,000 more mangrove seedlings in the last quarter of 2014, bringing the total to 5,000. The water cistern has been built and a hand pump installed, providing clean drinking water to the island’s people.

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June 2014

Project implementation has made significant headway and the project is nearly 80% complete. In the past four months, mapping and the demarcation of the 300 hectare mangrove forest around Kwale island has taken place. This activity was led by technical officers from the government forest office with the active participation of the Village Environment Committee and community members. After completion of this activity, an agreement between the community and the government was reached in which cutting mangrove trees within the community protected area is prohibited. In addition, during the reporting period, community members undertook rehabilitation of degraded areas of the mangrove forest. A total of 4,000 mangrove seedlings were planted after community members were trained on how to do so, with a further 15,000 planned to be planted post-Seacology funding. Finally, construction of the water cistern commenced during the reporting period. Construction is nearly complete, with the exterior retaining walls, floor and roofing complete. Only the installation of a water pump and water-proof sealing of the inner walls remains.

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February 2014

Numerous community meetings have been held, the grant documentation has been signed and a first payment on the project made. Local government officials have been solicited to provide support for the project. Posters and other materials to educate community members regarding the conservation area have been created and distributed. A two day training took place to build the capacity of the village environmental committee regarding the management of the mangrove forest. The training was facilitated by the Tanzania Forest Service. The village environmental committee is leading the process of developing bylaws in relation to the mangrove forest. The contractor for the water cistern project has been identified, as well as community members who will construct the cistern. Volunteer patrol members have also been identified within the community.

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