Lamcot Blog

December 08 | Chelsea’S Visit With Lamcot

Hi,my name is Chelsea Ambrose and I’m a junior double Environmental Studies and Studio Art major at Lewis and Clark College, Portland Oregon, US. I’ve been traveling around East Africa for the past 3 months as a part of my school’s study abroad program and was looking to do some Environmental Conservation related volunteering after my program ended. In my search for volunteering opportunities, I was lucky enough to stumble upon the LAMCOT organization and in my week and a half here in Lamu, I have helped out, and learned a lot about local conservation issues and how these problems are being addressed.

As well as helping out with the LAMCOT blog, data entry, graph making, and other tasks, I was lucky enough to attend some meetings about Community Based Conservation with the World Wildlife Fund and other conservation groups around East Africa. It was very interesting to attend these meeting and hear about some of the important environmental issues around East Africa, the current management strategies being used to deal with these problems, and about strategies for future solutions.

Thank you so much LAMCOT for teaching me about your organization and allowing me to help out in your conservation efforts!

World Wildlife Fund Conference on Community Base Resource Management in Shella where Atwaa Salim (Lamcot Manager) was among the facilitators and I had an opportunity to attend the workshop and contributed to the best capacity I had. Some of the groups that attended this conference were WWF representatives from Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya and the UK, as well as Professors from throughout Kenya and Tanzania.

Representatives of these organizations held lectures and attended discussions to share information on the specific terrestrial and marine environmental challenges faced around East Africa. Additionally, the representatives discussed the specific measures currently used to manage these issues, the challenges they face in implementing positive change and alleviation of environmental problems, and possible solutions and strategies to more effectively analyze and manage these issues.

In addition to discussions held in a conference setting, on the last day of meetings the representatives boated out to the reefs off of the island of Manda Toto to have a first hand look at the reefs LAMCOT is working to preserve in collaboration with Seacology, Tusk Trust, WWF, BMUs and Hoteliers. We were able to get our feet wet with a short time snorkeling on the reef (spotted some Lion Fish, arm long Parrot Fish, and so many others), and saw the site where the proposed Lamu port will be built in 5 years time.

After snorkeling, we had a relaxing lunch on a Dhow through the organization Promise Ahadi and were able to hear from the Dhow operators and locals about what the organization does and their opinions of what effects the impending port will have on the islands. Promise Ahadi is a non profit organization that works by bringing together local Dhow operators, teaching locals the skills needed to captain and run Dhows, and by paying for operational costs by providing Dhow trips for tourists.

To finish off the day we jetted off to the island of Faza. Faza has a population of about 6,000, the majority of its residents work in the fishing industry, and it is relatively remote (about 3 Km from Lamu, a three hour ferry ride).
Due to its small size and remote location, until recently there was no bank on the island that residents could use. Instead, fishermen either kept their savings in their homes or had to make the long journey to Lamu to deposit their earnings. This inefficient banking method has caused many problems; fishermen making the trip to deposit their money have been robbed along the way, locals are not able to establish savings accounts, credit, earn interest, get loans easily, etc. But now, thanks to funding provided by the WWF a bank is being built and established on the island where locals will be able to do their banking. During our visit we were given a tour of the site where the bank is being built and talked to local officials about the benefits the bank will have on the community. They expressed great thanks to the WWF, had very positive outlooks for bank’s future and expect it to be finished by the end of December.

Our last stop on our whirlwind field trip was to the newly built ice factory and fish cleaning center, also funded by the Government of Kenya. We were given a tour of the building by a local official who showed us the room where fish will be cleaned, the newly finished cold store rooms, and the rooms where ice will be manufactured. This center will allow the fishermen to properly store the fish they catch for longer and more efficiently manage their businesses and selling of the fish they catch.

It was a long, tiring day in the sun, but nonetheless exciting to get a first hand look at the projects being managed around the archipelago, get a chance to talk to locals, see Community Based Resource Management in action, and a wonderful end to a successful few days of sharing, discussion, and learning.