By Sonia Kavuli

In recent years, the concept of the Blue Economy has gained attention in the coastal region, with hopes that it could bring about sustainable economic growth and development.

However, several organizations such as HAKI Africa, Human Rights Agenda (HURIA), Coast Education Centre (COEC), Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), and Pwani Social Justice Working Group, have expressed concerns about the slow progress of the Blue Economy’s development in the region.

Members of HAKI Africa, HURIA, COEC, MUHURI, and Pwani Social Justice Working Group, during their meeting at HURIA offices late February, 2023. Photo: Courtesy

In a joint press conference at HURIA offices late last month, the organizations discussed the lack of transparency in the allocation of grants by the ministry of Blue Economy.

Halima Mohamed, the Executive Director of COEC, urged the government to conduct an audit to determine the number of beneficiaries. She also pleaded for the inclusion of women and young girls in Blue Economy projects, to ensure that they also benefit from the opportunities it presents.

HAKI Africs CEO Hussein Khalid addresses the media during the joint presser. Photo: Courtesy

The gazettement of the marine fisheries regulations act by the government is still pending, and this delay has caused frustration among the organizations. The act could provide job opportunities for the youth, create investment opportunities, and allow direct access to the ocean for fishing without limitations.

The organizations argue that this delay benefits other countries that have access to the Indian Ocean and effective fishing gear.

According to Yusuf Lule, the executive director of Human Rights Agenda, access to the ocean and deep waters could help solve drought, one of the drastic effects of climate change being experienced in most parts of the country including the Coastal region.

The Blue Economy is a vast concept that encompasses a range of economic activities that rely on the ocean. With proper investment and training, local communities and youth can engage in blue economy activities, creating job opportunities and improving their livelihoods.

The organizations call for collaboration between the Blue economy ministry, the government, and local communities to ensure that it benefits are shared equitably and that the concerns of all stakeholders are considered.

The concerns raised by these organizations highlight the need for the development of the Blue Economy in the coastal region. While it holds tremendous potential for economic growth and development, it must be done sustainably to improve the livelihoods of the local communities in the region.