LEAP - Locally Empowered Areas of Protection in the Western Indian Ocean

The Western Indian Ocean region lacks coherent governance systems to support a diverse management of marine and coastal resources. As a result, local level benefits are less effective, as users rarely play an equitable role in decision-making on the management of the resources. The project builds on existing experiences and knowledge to enhance socio-ecological resilience and biodiversity conservation by strengthening governance and management of marine and coastal areas and resources. It will engage at multiple levels to deliver tangible benefits through direct action at local level, strengthen the enabling institutional environment through policy influencing, advocacy, and capacity building at national levels, and promote regional collaboration and knowledge-sharing, enhancing uptake across countries. Science and community-based programmes, combined with knowledge transfer, will contribute to achieve community and territorial climate resilience and sustainable, inclusive and alternative livelihoods.

Project data

Kenya, Mozambique, Seychelles, Tanzania
IKI funding
5,623,975.00 €
04/2019 till 07/2024
Implementing organisation
International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) - Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office
Political Partner
  • Institute for the Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture (IDEPA) Ministry of the Sea, Inland Waters, and Fisheries
  • Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change - Seychelles
  • Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife - Kenya
  • Ministry of Livestock Development and Fisheries, Fisheries - Tanzania
  • State House, Office of the Vice President - Department of The Blue Economy
Implementing Partner
  • Aga Khan Foundation Mozambique
  • Associação do Meio Ambiente (AMA)
  • CORDIO East Africa
  • Nature Seychelles

State of implementation/results

  • The LEAP project contributes to the Climate Commitments (NDCs) of all four countries, which provide for the establishment and sustainable management of coastal and marine protected areas.

    • Security context is fragile in Northern Province Cabo Delgado and nearby including in some project areas, sporadic terrorism activities were observed. Project activities support internally displaced persons and foster dialogue with host communities. Increased community needs for food and transport across the Northern coastal zone resulted in increased pressure on coastal and marine sources of seafood. The project contributes with income generating alternatives such as horticulture, voluntary saving and loan associations, and small business to support beneficiaries.
    • The project continues to work with Community Fishing Councils (CCPs) in Cabo Delgado. Fisherfolk was mobilized to join the CCPs, joint surveillance plans and co-management plans were developed and submitted to the relevant approval authorities. The communities took initiative to establish temporary reserves and restocking areas. CCPs participated in trainings to spread information on protected species and explain the objectives of establishing temporary protected areas to support recovery of marine ecosystems and increase the productivity of fisheries systems.
    • Networking between LMMAs, linking fishermen of the villages of Ngoma, Cambala, Muitua and Murrebwe, Mwindi and Natuco, has helped improve networking and learning among the different groups.
    • Livelihood groups in Natuco and Muinde communities gained experience in ecosystem restoration while working on the restoration of a devastated mangrove area. Natuco community created a new mangrove nursery area and zealously plants and protects the mangroves. 256 Ceriops tagal mangrove seedlings have been planted. The participation of the Queen of Muinde in mangrove restoration enhanced the engagement and willpower of the group.
    • In Natuco, 13 Village Savings and Loans Associations have been created and 14 horticultural distributions have been implemented. Members manifested satisfaction about gradually improving their well-being and business.
    • Surface biological assessments and scientific monitoring of the coral reef ecosystem were carried out to validate areas proposed for implementation of marine reserves.
    • Communities in Muinde and Maueia participated in monitoring training for coral reefs as a way to involve them in ecological assessment of existing habitats in their areas.
    • Community fisheries council members, community leaders and the area Chiefs discussed the success of permanent and temporary marine reserves during meetings in Muinde, Maueia, Ngoma, Natuco, Murrebwe, Muiua. The representatives committed to working together to ensure long-lasting results.
    • Implementation of marine reserves benefits marine biodiversity, habitat improvement and replenishment of fish stocks. Communities have witnessed increases in fish catches, greater sizes and consequently a higher income for their families. In 2022, fishermen caught an unprecedented 7 tons of fish from the three temporary reserve areas.
    • A live radio debate with listener participation took place in Mecufi District. The debate focused on the importance of women in the processes of economic decision-making with the intention to inform and encourage their active participation.
    Kenya and Tanzania
    • The project organized sessions at the Africa Protected Areas Congress and submitted four abstracts to the 12th Scientific Symposium of the WIO Marine Science Association.
    • A virtual regional workshop on Sustainable Finance was implemented to promote financial sustainability of local marine management.
    • Drafts of the Kanamai and Mtwapa Beach Management Unit by-laws have been developed and validated to advance co-management area plans and by-laws for LMMAs.
    • Communities and diving research teams conducted several coral reef surveys in LMMAs in Kenya and one in Tanzania and community members participated in trainings of trainers. A visual tool on participatory coral reef surveys has been completed.
    • The project currently operates in two marine national parks, Port Launay and Baie Ternay, which serve as a pilot initiative to explore the possibility of expansion at the project end. A Co-Management Committee for the Port Launay and Baie Ternay Marine National Parks was formally established in October 2023 and members briefed about their role in the LEAP project, as well as in ensuring the project results are sustained beyond the project.
    • The LEAP project completed the first-ever ecological, stakeholder and governance assessments for the two marine national parks. The ecological assessments that ran between 2020 and 2022 produced five reports in total i.e. rapid, gap analysis, marine, mangrove and seagrass assessment reports.
    • A concept plan for the Livelihood Kiosk and Co-management Centre, developed by stakeholders, was submitted to the Department of Lands and Planning.
    • The outreach program in schools within and beyond target region continues with theoretical and outdoor sessions on mangroves and seagrasses.
    • The marine baseline assessment was completed and disseminated through working groups to recommend priority actions and raise awareness.
    • As part of a baseline assessment of seagrass and mangroves, groundtruthing of data on their distribution and health has been completed. This information will be used to inform the scope of restoration activities.
    • By mapping the full extent of mangrove and seagrass ecosystems across its exclusive economic zone, Seychelles fulfilled its first climate commitment under the Paris Agreement in August 2022
    • The project supported the development process of the Nature Reserves and Conservancy Law, which was enacted in March 2022. It makes provision for Co-management agreements which will allow for the equitable and effective stakeholder participation and management of conservation areas.
    • A new a co-management agreement has been drawn up within the LEAP project area for the improved management of a RAMSAR wetland site.

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