Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach, Mombasa, Kenya
Mombasa is a city located at the Kenyan coast about 432 km south east of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. Coral reefs, mangrove forests, beaches, lowlands, and kaya forests characterise the area. The main economic activities include tourism, fishing and trade along the coastal areas. Mombasa is a historical trading town that today attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists annually. It is well-known for its beautiful beaches of which Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach (JKPB) is one. It is also the only remaining stretch of beach in Mombasa that is not under private management which means it is especially important to the local community. The rest of the Mombasa shoreline contains may private hotels that block access to the sea.
The high level of development along the beaches of Mombasa has affected species diversity. Furthermore, there are intense conflicts among resource users. Some disputes arise from private companies wanting to develop the public beach into a private hotel. Solid waste on the public beach is also a major problem, despite there being official waste bins provided by the city council. Other factors contributing to the degradation of the public beach area are overcrowding and simply poor planning. Tourists are also being hassled, making the area less attractive for visitors.
Yet the economic potential of Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach is undisputed, if only it can be unlocked to its full extent. Efforts are being made to improve the overall situation. Some of the reefs in Mombasa were declared a Marine National Reserve already in 1986 with a 10 km2 core zone known as the Mombasa Marine National Park. Kenya Wildlife Service manages the area and fishing is prohibited inside the Marine National Park, allowing recovery of the fish populations and the stocks “spill over” into the surrounding areas where fishing occurs. The marine park is also popular among tourists.
A wide range of stakeholders have been identified on the public beach area and they range from the boat owners association, the fishers’ association, the photographers group, the camel riders, the adjacent hotels, Kenya Wildlife Service and many more. The question is whether making Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach a demonstration site can help to solve conflicts and improve better usage of the rich resources that occur there, including cultural resources. Indications are that careful planning of the beach and its surroundings, with the full involvement of all stakeholders will be a step in the right direction. Already debate on how to address the problems on the beach is the topic of several DLIST discussion threads.