How fish ponds are mitigating climate impacts in Kilifi

Christine Tsori weighs a fish caught in Kibokoni pond, Kilifi County


What you need to know:

  • The marine ponds are located near the ocean because they rely on the sea for flushing, filling, and fish farming.
  • The initiative brings together leading research organisations in Kenya.

In Kibokoni, Kilifi County, fish ponds are a game changer. As ordinary and simple as they are, the ponds are helping a community control the breeding and migration of fish so that they are always guaranteed a catch.

Without the ponds, the community would go for days and weeks without fish as climate change and overfishing reduces fish stocks in the ocean.

Under the umbrella of Umoja Self-Help Group, the community has 17 fish ponds and farms milkfish, prawns, crabs, sandfish, rabbitfish and marine tilapia. With over 40 members, they have kept the ponds going for over a decade.

"When we started this project in 2011, our income was minimal, but now after selling our fish, we save some profit in the bank and divide the rest among ourselves. When we divide the money, some of us use it to pay for our children's school fees and buy food," the groups Chairperson Christine Tsori said.

"I participate in this type of fishing. My job is to look for fingerlings and harvest mature fish," says Peris Chengo, a fisherwoman from Kibokoni.

Her swimming prowess has earned her the nickname "the Shark," and the skill she learned from her late father as a child is now her source of income.

The team here relies on the profits from their fish business for a living.

According to Dr Linus Kosambo, a senior research scientist in the food technologies research centre at Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute, the country has untapped blue economy potential in the almost 142, 000 square kilometres of the existing Kenya marine waters, commonly referred as Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

“If we can invest intensively to culture this fish, then you can project on the kind of impact it will have on food security. In fact, if we invest enough, our EEZ is enough to feed the whole of Africa,” he added.

The marine ponds are located near the ocean because they rely on the sea for flushing, filling and fish farming. The channels are dug on the creek from the sea that brings water in during high tides.

As climate variability continues to affect people in the coastal region, especially those depending on natural resources from the ocean, a group of researchers under the Blue Empowerment Project umbrella is working on climate-smart modalities to address barriers faced in the country's coastal region. The initiative brings together leading research organisations in Kenya led by the African Centre of Technology Studies, the Kenya Research and Development Institute and the Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute .