TAPPING ECOTOURISM

Gazi mangrove boardwalk reopens after months of closure

Three tonnes of plastic waste was used to replace the wooden boards.

In Summary

• It was launched by the director of the Kenya Forestry Research Institute Joseph Cheboi.

• It is expected to tap more ecotourism activities and help exploit the blue economy in Kwale.

The new plastic Gazi mangrove boardwalk after being renovated in Msambweni subcounty on Saturday, November 14, 2020.
CREATIVITY: The new plastic Gazi mangrove boardwalk after being renovated in Msambweni subcounty on Saturday, November 14, 2020.
Image: SHABAN OMAR
The director of the Kenya Forestry Research Institute Joseph Cheboi and Absa Bank head of sustainability advocate Jane Maina launch the Gazi Mangrove Boardwalk facility in Msambweni subcounty, Kwale, on Saturday, November 14, 2020.
LAUNCHING: The director of the Kenya Forestry Research Institute Joseph Cheboi and Absa Bank head of sustainability advocate Jane Maina launch the Gazi Mangrove Boardwalk facility in Msambweni subcounty, Kwale, on Saturday, November 14, 2020.
Image: SHABAN OMAR
A signboard at the facility in Msambweni subcounty.
A signboard at the facility in Msambweni subcounty.
Image: SHABAN OMAR
Beautiful mangrove forests found in Gazi, Msambweni subcounty.
NATURE: Beautiful mangrove forests found in Gazi, Msambweni subcounty.
Image: SHABAN OMAR

The mangrove boardwalk in Gazi, Msambweni subcounty, reopened on Saturday after months of closure for renovations.

The partial renovation of the 500-metre community-based project under the Gazi Women Initiative boardwalk cost Sh2 million. Three tonnes of plastic waste was used to replace the wooden boards. 

The remaining part of the path is expected to cost Sh2.6 million. 

The renovation was sponsored by Australian Mining Firm Base Titanium and Absa bank-Kenya in partnership with Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute and the community.

The facility was launched by the director of the Kenya Forestry Research Institute Joseph Cheboi.

The boardwalk has various intervals where one can rest, order food and drinks. It offers free navigation inside the various beautiful species of mangrove forests, access to the cool sea breeze and fauna.

The mangrove covers about 1,729 acres and is home to many beautiful birds and marine life.

Cheboi said the facility is an example of the government's initiative to exploit marine nature to change livelihoods and grow the economy. He said more tour guides and hotel workers will be employed.

“This is one among the pilot projects of what the government meant in its bid to explore and exhaust the ocean opportunities,” he said.

Absa Bank head of sustainability advocate Jane Maina said they chose to use plastic polls because they are durable and less reactive to saltwater, unlike wood.

Maina said the community would be able to reap lots of benefits before the bridge is worn out.

“The plastic boardwalk will last longer, saving people from the burden of the huge cost incurred when frequently replacing wood,” she said.

Beneficiary Amina Salim said the women also make traditional mats and hats, which they sell to local and international tourists.

She said the entrance fee for a foreigner is Sh300, while locals pay Sh100. 

Salim said they mainly receive university students who go on research trips.

The project was initially started in 2006 to empower women and create alternative sources of income without damaging the environment.