Options in Yala: wetland management for locals, sustainable development and biodiversity conservation

Francis Mungai Mwaura

Yala wetland in Kenya’s Lake Victoria Basin is the country’s largest papyrus swamp and contains numerous threatened fauna. It serves as a natural filter for agro-pollutants and effectively removes silt that would otherwise be deposited into the lake, while supporting a variety of rare fish, birds and mammals. The swamp margins are partially drained for agriculture, with plans for further reclamation under way. While the swamp has a wealth of resources that could be tapped by local communities, they are living in poverty and lack the knowledge and capacity to use the resources sustainably, while promoting biodiversity conservation, which has hindered local incentive to conserve the wetland. The proposed project aims to provide reliable and sufficient information for local communities, policy makers and other stakeholders on management options for the sustainable development and conservation of the wetland. A natural resource inventory and a socioeconomic survey will be conducted to establish potential utilization, while cost-benefit analysis will be used to gather data on economic and ecological benefits of the wetland. The project team will share the information with established community groups with the objective of making them site support groups. Likewise, young scientists will be trained in field techniques for wetland conservation and sustainable resource use.