African Journalists Play a Key Role in Continent’s Blue Economy

I recently mobilized Kenyan journalists to attend a briefing in Nairobi on Blue Economy. The main aim of the meeting was to expose journalists to blue economy is and why Africa should embrace it for accelerated development in the continent.

A few phone calls later to our members revealed two scenarios; one – there were those who were hearing about the term blue economy for the first time (from me) even though this lot had even done stories on the concept; two – there were those who had neither heard of it and neither had they reported on it. Quickly, I realized that our members would heavily gain from the briefing on this subject.

For those new to this ideology, a short back ground would do.

The world has, for over four years, accelerated discussions on Blue Economy since “Rio+20”. This was the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 20-22, 2012.

The “Blue Economy” approach to sustainable growth usually recognizes different use and non-use values of oceans and other “blue” resources. It promotes the coordination of relevant activities and industries to enhance the overall value.

Although the scope of the Blue Economy may differ for different countries, many agree that the appropriate use and conservation of marine, inland aquatic and coastal resources can contribute to food security, job creation, and inclusive and sustainable economic growth, as well as to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The opportunity and challenge is how all activities and industries can be coordinated and resources managed so that the Blue Economy brings about the maximum benefits to society in an inclusive and sustainable manner.

Journalists therefore need to be on the lookout for the interconnectedness of the issues being addressed within the confines of the Blue Economy. One needs to be aware of the impact that each of these issues could have on each other and specifically on the livelihood of the people occupying these areas. Given the cross-boundary nature of blue economic issues, journalists should take time to study the relevant Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and other international instruments that regulate resource use. This way, they will strengthen their reporting of the Blue Economy.

In Kenya, for example, the Kenya Coastal Development Program (KCDP) has, to say the least, been touching lives of the coastal people in the country. The program has since inception in 2011, focused on addressing issues of fisheries, natural resource management and sustainable livelihoods.

By delving into sustainable management of fisheries resources KCDP is responsible for the increased benefits from seaweed farming by supporting seaweed drying and linking the artisans to the market/private sector. Approximately USD 9,550 was realized for a small community in 2015. KCDP support of the gated basket trap has shown that fish captured in experimental gated traps are 31% longer and 55% heavier and fewer low value fish are captured thus maintaining coastal fisheries biodiversity.

The project has also supported livelihoods and food security and helped the locals to build their asset base through livelihood projects focused on livestock with an investment cost of USD 330,000.

And so in reporting issues of the Blue Economy, journalists need to be very vigilant on what is really being done vis-a-vis what the governments promise to do. Mere talk about blue economy as the word in vogue will help the cause of Africa.

Article by Aghan Daniel, Secretary of MESHA
November, 2016

Photograph: Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS)


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