Location: Faza and Kizingitini divisions, Lamu County
Postal address: P.O Box 80501-7 Faza
Manager: Nadhir Mohamed
Contact: E:Nadhirhashim2013@gmail.com  T:0722 276 088
Ethnicity: Bajun
Population: 20,570
Land Ownership: Private and community
Core Conservation Area: 9,290 hectares
Main Livelihood: Fishing
Key Wildlife Species: Turtle, dolphin, dugong, crustaceans, coral reef
Year of Registration: 2012
Staff Employed from the Community: 11
Annual Operating Budget: US$ 35,000

Background

Pate is the largest island in the Lamu archipelago. Like Lamu itself, Pate has a fascinating and colourful history largely defined by the influence of Arabic and Portuguese traders, starting as early as the ninth century. Shipping and trade, battles for power, intermarriage, periods of extreme wealth, creativity and elaborate architecture are just some of the patches in the island’s quilt. Remnants from this elaborate history can still be found on the island today, making it one of Kenya’s best kept north coast secrets. 

Nowadays, livelihoods on the island largely depend on the ocean. Infrastructure is poor, and unemployment is high. The Pate Marine Community Conservancy was established to try and interweave conservation efforts with improving local livelihoods.  Numbers of local ocean wildlife, including dolphin and dugong, are drastically decreasing, and it is hoped that if conservation efforts are successful, more eco-tourism projects can be established that will bring much needed income for the community. 

Pate is now part of NRT-Coast, a satellite NRT support centre with a headquarters in Lamu. Its focus is solely on the priorities of the six coastal NRT conservancies, who face different challenges than their inland cousins.

The People

The Bajun people that inhabit Pate are a significantly reduced population than that of a few centuries ago. Their livelihoods depend largely on the ocean – they are fishermen, sailors, shipbuilders. Others have moved to small scale farming. A conservancy board has now been elected to represent constituents, and members have been trained in financial accountability and good governance practices. The conservancy has a vision to diversify incomes for families, promote eco-tourism, improve infrastructure and sustainably manage their natural resources. By combining the Bajun people’s traditional knowledge of their environment with modern science and research, it is hoped that similar programmes to those being embraced by inland NRT community conservancies can be adapted to Pate to help them achieve these goals.

Ecosystem

The temperate waters along Kenya’s coast support a diverse, unique and critically important variety of marine life. Numerous species of fish, coral, sea turtles and marine mammals, including the highly endangered dugong, inhabit this rich underwater ecosystem. The mangrove forests along the coast are also vital to the marine life here, and carry out a multitude of functions. By providing nesting and nursery grounds for hundreds of fish species as well as shelter and food, they nurture a vital part of the food chain. They also absorb carbon dioxide, help prevent erosion, act as buffers during storms, and as filtration systems for the water. Pate is surrounded by these precious mangrove forests, and the protection of these areas forms a large part of their conservation focus. 

10 community rangers have been employed from the local area and trained by NRT in wildlife monitoring, conflict resolution and first aid. These rangers know the area well, and are in the best position to provide intelligence, raise conservation awareness in the communities, and document wildlife populations and movements.

Visiting Pate

Being a relatively new NRT conservancy, the communities in Pate are concentrating on improving security operations, infrastructure development and sustainably managing their precious natural resources. This area holds such a unique diversity of wildlife and culture, not to mention the postcard perfect beaches and ancient ruins, that there is no reason it will not be able to generate income through successful eco-tourism ventures in the future.

The Future

Plans are underway to construct a deepwater port in Lamu that will have extensive effects on both marine and terrestrial life in Pate. Coral reefs, fishing grounds and mangrove forests are in danger be destroyed during construction, and the channel connecting Lamu town and Pate Island will be closed. However the potential for job creation and new businesses could be of huge advantage to the people of Pate. NRT aims to help Pate understand these potential threats and benefits, and how they can develop the resilience they need to cope with change.

  • To convene, along with all other NRT community conservancies, in annual general meetings to share plans and progress
  • To take part in a livelihood baseline survey, commissioned by NRT, with a view of determining the status and priority of education, health, water, jobs, food security, infrastructure and current availability of government services
  • To continue the strengthening of wildlife security and monitoring within the conservancy
  • To sign a partnership memorandum of understanding, along with all other community conservancies, between themselves and NRT
  • To register as not-for-profit
  • To develop a conservancy management plan endorsed by the constituent community in Pate