Education & Enrichment

Marine Conservation Education, Zanzibar

By July 23, 2016 May 6th, 2019 No Comments
 Empowering the local community to engage with their environment in a sustainable way through educational trips and dolphin tour driver training.
The fishing village of Kizimkazi is not only one of the most beautiful villages in Zanzibar, but also one of its most exploited fishing and tourist destinations. Together, overfishing and unregulated tourist activity poses a very real threat to this marine conservation area. The residents of this idyllic Zanzibar village must evolve with their rapidly changing society, learning to innovate versus stagnate and live sustainably within their fragile environment. The people of Kizimkazi are the primary benefactors of the local economy, but also those most affected by overfishing and lack of regulation in relation to tourist activities.

The African Impact Foundation moves to work together with the local community on education and capacity building in order to inform people on why conservation matters, and how they can take responsibility for their own sustainable development while ensuring a strong conservation area in Kizimkazi and the Menai Bay. Education and empowerment activities include education in English, marine conservation, resource management and business development.

The village is heavily reliant on the ocean for their income and their food. Most fishermen in Kizimkazi harvest on a subsistence level, meaning that they fish to feed their families and only profit from their trade when they are able to catch more than they can eat. Although the area is a Marine Conservation Area in order to protect these resources, the environment has deteriorated as local stocks of fish and sealife are overharvested to feed a burgeoning population, threatening the future of the entire community.

The main tourist attractions in Kizimkazi center around the exploitation of local dolphin populations. Unfortunately, due to the rapid growth of the tourism industry in Zanzibar, this has led to many boats going out at once, and it is sadly common to see 15-20 boats surrounding one small pod of dolphins with tourists jumping directly on them. Disappointed travelers leave scathing reviews online encouraging prospective tourists to spurn the village entirely and take their money elsewhere, ultimately spelling loss of earning for the boat drivers and guides.

Through education and capacity building activities, the African Impact Foundation aims to empower the local community to benefit from their environment in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way. This includes teaching the boat drivers and guides English so they can communicate better with tourists, giving them information on the local marine conservation area and building better relationships. It also includes running marine conservation programmes with local youth, aiming to teach the next generation about the importance of conservation for future generations and how they can be part of a responsible, sustainable marine conservation area.

By providing support through conservation education, books, various workshops and other resources, The African Impact Foundation can empower the community, teaching them new skills that they can use to run their businesses whilst also protecting their resources and furthering their education.

This project will be on-going and the following three intitial initiatives have been identified, based on current needs and assistance required:

  1. Interactive Conservation Club lessons and field trips. Connecting the youth to their surroundings as well as giving them an opportunity to practice and implement real life skills in the field of conservation. At a weekly club, local staff and volunteers will teach students through physical activities and experiential learning opportunities. To maintain and reinforce their developing enthusiasm, they will be provided with visits to local organizations that are practicing sustainably.
  2. Mobile library and resource centre. Providing a facility where locals can take out books and read up on relevant topics. The books will range in difficulty level, language and topics, as well as dictionaries to assist those learning English. There will be resources for young and old and will hopefully encourage knowledge sharing.
  3. Skills development workshops. Providing the community with bursts of skills development and encouraging thought-provoking interactions will help create a village-wide approach to problem management and resource protection. These workshops will cover a range of topics such as sustainable tourism and business, collaborative initiatives and improved techniques of fishing and operating. Teaching local boat drivers essential job skills for the dolphin tours as well as how to conduct their work in a more sustainable way.

Short Term Impact: Allow the English language students and other interested community members to improve their linguistic skills in their own time as well as offering information on alternative incomes that aren’t reliant on the ocean. Provide more direct information and skill development to help raise awareness and protect the limited resources available to the community.

Long Term Impact: Create an environment where community members, especially the youth, take charge of the problems they face and work towards win-win solutions (for the ocean and the village). Encourage learning and skills development while identifying alternative income generation opportunities.

Kizimkazi, Zanzibar
The small fishing village of Kizimkazi lies almost at the southern tip of Unguja, the bigger and better known of the two islands of the archipelago of Zanzibar. For tourists, this old village is best known for the dolphin swims, while for historians, it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements on the island which also contains East Africa’s oldest standing mosque.

Kizimkazi is in the heart of the Menai Bay Conservation Area, established in August 1997 and comprising of various tropical marine environments from extensive coral reefs to mangrove forests, stretching across 19 villages on the island. They have set up village level Conservation Committees to restrain the illegal use of circular nets and blasting techniques with some success.

The African Impact Foundation has been present in the community for nearly two years and over time has identified areas where support is needed; all tying back to education, empowerment and alternative income generation. Through our work, positive relationships have already been established with community members, fishermen and boat operators.

The Marine Conservation programme was founded in 2017 to provide conservation field trips for students who attend weekly conservation workshops.

  • 2017: 4 boat drivers completed their 5 modules of Ethical Dolphin Tour training. All 4 drivers completed practical assessments to see how they would react to difficult scenarios when delivering their own ethical dolphin tour, including dealing with over 10 untrained boat drivers.  The improvement in their boat driving was fantastic, with all drivers demonstrating an ability to drive carefully, at a safe distance to ensure their interaction with the dolphins was sustainable. These boat drivers gives us a total of 8 trained drivers that are registered and recognised in Zanzibar as Sustainable Dolphin Tour Operators.  As a result, they can gain more business and encourage other boat drivers to complete the training.
  • 2018: The conservation club programme extended beyond just the conservation field trips. Every term (three times a year), students who attended the weekly conservation workshops had the opportunity to attend the field trips which align to the themes they were taught that quarter. Additionally, we noticed the boom in dolphin tourism; however, there were no regulations to protect the dolphin species residing in the area. Therefore, we ran free workshops with the local boat drivers to teach them how to make their dolphin tours sustainable and ethical through better driving, information about dolphins and customer service skills.
  • 2019: Our goal is to provide these ethically-trained boat drivers with certificates, badges, and uniforms for them to start an ethical, dolphin tour company as their own income generating activity.