We currently run the following programmes.
We run an interactive Marine Information Centre near Watamu village. This is also used as a meeting place for community members as there is no other facility available in this area. We have a large print and CD wildlife library. Anyone is welcome to come and enjoy these wonderful books and productions. School children and others from the local community often drop in to read or watch the CDs from the library. Local schools visit the centre for education lessons. The children learn about marine life through interactive games and videos. Groups can also visit the Rehabilitation Centre where we have marine information ‘Banda’.
We have strong education programmes in 21 local schools and host other Universities and Colleges from Kenya and abroad. We continually run workshops, competitions and conservation days which include beach clean ups and mangrove planting.
We have an ‘Early Learning Career Development Programme’ for those interested in a future in marine biology and /or conservation. At present we have 10 high achievers in the programme and we will continue to shadow them and give support through their secondary school education. We are working on expanding this programme in both numbers and input and to include further education and hopefully job facilitation.
One of the main goals of the Local Ocean Trust has always been to empower people, teaching them their rights and encouraging them to manage their marine environment in a sustainable way. Over the years we have helped set up over 30 fishing or community groups in our area and other parts of the Kenya coast. These groups are visited on a regular basis, sometimes weekly to give encouragement and technical help. This would include initial ‘start up’ advice – (how to set up a bank account, memorandums, election of office bearers, run accounts and then help them with their aims, objectives, goals etc).
We sometimes act as arbitrator and monitors when necessary. In August 2007 we arranged a workshop to initiate the formation of the Watamu Marine Stakeholders Association (WMSA). WMSA now acts as the representative body of many of these groups. This part of our Community Programme now runs itself and has proved to be very successful.
Within the Community programme we also run an Alternate Income Programme. We work with various groups, including women’s groups, to set up alternate income projects, such as bee keeping, tree plantations and eco tourism. This programme is being expanded on and we hope will soon include other meaningful initiatives such as recycling.