The blue economy sector has received a major boost after the European Union announced a grant of Ksh 3.5 billion.
The grant is aimed to mitigate the economic effects of Covid-19 among individuals, groups and businesses in the sector and the allied.
These include the blue Economy, agriculture, cultural heritage and tourism along the coastal strip.
Jumuiya ya Kaunti za Pwani (JKP), will manage the grant on behalf of the Coast Residents by receiving and awarding proposals according to their merit.
The program dubbed Go Blue was launched at the Technical University of Mombasa over the weekend.
Civil society organizations as well as private individuals are eligible to benefit as long as they are from any of the six counties — that is Kwale Mombasa, Lamu Tana River, Kilifi and Taita Taveta.
Speaking at the Launch JKP Chief Executive Officer, Emmanuel Nzai, said the funds will be channeled directly to beneficiaries through various EU missions in Kenya to fund their intended economic projects initiatives.
“All funds will be sent directly to all groups enlisted to receiving the financial support and JKP will only monitor the activities of the funded groups hence compile an authentic report on the same,” Nzai added.
The Go Blue program has three components of Go blue growth worth Sh788 million (euros 6,250,007.5) which covers skills and value chains, fisheries and agriculture, and cultural and heritage tourism projects.
It also covers sustainable use of Coastal urban and marine environments, whose intervention is aimed at protection of coastal ecosystems, improved waste management and create jobs in target areas of the blue economy.
Over 10,000 youth and women will earn their lively hoods with within 100 areas of the blue economy, protect 10,000 hectares of coastal ecosystem and include another 10,000 hectares of vulnerable land-sea plans for climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Further additional 10,000 area hectares of potential economic and social development land will be included in the land-sea plans.
It will also establish eight innovative demonstration or replication projects related to land-sea planning in the six counties through Jumuiya innovative clubs, build two public spaces in Kilifi and Mombasa and establish one blue carbon project covering 1000 hectares of mangrove land in Lamu.
In Taita Taveta two solid waste recycling and collection facilities will be upgraded, one constructed wetland will be developed and applied in Mombasa through an innovative technique and technology provided by the UN and one fish landing site will be constructed or upgraded with significant land-sea planning elements.
The maritime security component of the larger Go Blue program will support the National Government in the development and implementation of its maritime strategy, strengthen the capacity of the Kenya Coast Guard Service, developingstrong legal instruments and regulatory frameworks to address maritime threats and implement maritime law enforcementand facilitating bilateral cooperation with neighboring countries and enhancing regional cooperation in the area of maritime security.
The Portuguese Ambassador to Kenya, Luísa Fragoso, who presided over the launch said once all the Go Blue projects are realized will spur the economy and create hundreds of job opportunities to thousands of the locals as well as other nationals.
The envoy said all these efforts are geared towards supporting and unlocking and tapping all marine resources to uplift the living standard of the Coastals.
Comoes Cooperacao Portuguesa (Portuguese International Cooperation) Project Manager, Paulina Oliveira, said the tourism and culture heritage project has been divided into two lots.
The first lot targets Civil Society Organizations while the second one is designed for public and private sector organizations.
“We want to create employment opportunities and also to stimulate skills and value chains across sectors in tourism and cultural heritage in the coastal region. The job opportunities target groups are women and youth,” added Paulina.
Ms Alina Neacsu, Policy Advisor with European Union Delegation to Kenya, added that the “Go Blue” program aims to harness untapped vast economy within the maritime, hospitality, fishing, climate change and maritime security projects.
Coast Tourism Association (CTA) Chairman, Victor Shitakha, said the Portuguese government funds will support harnesses of untapped opportunities within cultural and heritage in the six Coast counties.