One Kenyan community's fight against climate change

November, 2009

Value Based Learning

 Magongo’s story below describes how one community, living in the coastal district of Kilifi in Kenya, adapted to the consequences of climate change.  evaluate the impact of climate change on the community: its causes and consequences and the manner in which the community responded. 

Scroll down to the end of the article for questions based on the Earth Charter’s ethical principles to evaluate the impact of climate change on  Magongo's community and their efforts  to adapt to its consequences.

When the mangroves started to die, Magongo Lawrence Manje knew something was wrong.

For generations, his 12,000-person community in the coastal Kilifi district in Kenya depended upon Mtwapa Creek’s marine ecosystem for its livelihood, but climate change has increased droughts in their region and altered life as they know it.

With less rain, mangroves died, leaving coastlines bare, and without the mangroves to prevent erosion and maintain salinity, fish and other marine life couldn’t breed. And as the plants, trees, and fish disappeared, farmers and fishermen had nothing to sell at market.

Magongo, who is the outreach coordinator for the Kwetu Training Center, describes how this chain reaction has affected people’s everyday lives:

“People employed in livestock and crop-growing … lose their jobs and bread basket. Fishermen are no longer getting enough catch to sustain their families, which results [in] poor nutrition. At the same time, students cannot go to school due to lack of fees and hunger.”

All this, because the mangroves disappeared. Because of climate change.

Amid these sobering facts, however, Magongo’s community has hope. Funded in part by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Kwetu Training Center is teaching the community environmental conservation techniques and helping them reclaim their livelihoods through sustainable methods. Their solutions include:

• establishing replacement mangrove nurseries and protecting the few remaining mangrove forests;
• introducing fish and prawn farming to generate income. Community youth play a major role by constructing fish and prawn ponds to increase productivity;
• implementing beekeeping, organic farming, solar drying and other eco-friendly activities that bring in revenue and improve the community’s standard of living.

Magongo and his team at Kwetu are a terrific example of people taking individual action to adapt to climate change. But as Magongo said to us, everyone must educate their communities on climate change and its direct effects. Otherwise, the forests and marine life they depend on will become a thing of the past.

From UN Foundation Climate and Energy Team

 A value-based ethical framework for evaluating social and ecological events, conditions and practices  Anita L. Wenden

Ecological sustainability
• How has climate change affected the Earth’s resources and life support systems in the coastal Kilifi district in Kenya? What is the community doing to repair this degradation?


• In such a situation is it possible that the impact of climate change on people’s lives could lead to conflict? Why? What problems might be the cause of such conflict?
• In this case, no inter-group conflicts occurred. Why? How were problems resolved?

Social Justice
• Who is to be blamed for the environmental degradation that deprived residents of the Kilifi district of resources essential to their livelihood and so violated their basic human rights? Are they members of the immediate community? of neighboring countries? and/or the wider global community?
• What would the demands of climate justice make on those responsible for the degradation that affects the wellbeing of this community?

Intergenerational Equity
• How will the impact of climate change on this community affect the quality of life of members of the community’s future generations if it remains unchecked?

Participatory Decision-making
• In dealing with the problems brought to the community by climate change, have the concerns of individuals and groups been solicited?
• Have citizens taken their own actions to deal with the problem?


 Do you agree with the approach taken by  Magongo and his team  to adapt to climate change? Refer to the Earth Charter’s ethical principles to support your views and share them  with a friend or with