Innovative project set to transform fortunes of women groups in Watamu

Written By: Nicholas Kigondu/Dickson Wekesa

The National Museums of Kenya (NMK) has partnered with women groups operating around Mida creek in Watamu to enhance resilience of local communities through tourism.

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According to Dr. Purity Kiura, the Director of antiquities sites and monuments at the National Museums of Kenya, the area boasts of rich heritage which can be harnessed to improve the livelihood of the local community by adding them to the existing tourism circuits in the country.

The state corporation has partnered with a group of women dubbed Bidii na Kazi as it seeks to create cultural related sustainable projects which can enhance tourism as well as the livelihoods of members.

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”We wanted to enhance ocean-related or maritime related cultural projects. There are a lot of Cultural sites along the Kenyan coast, some already discovered while some are not,” said Kiura.

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She said their aim of the ongoing program is meant to make the community living within the Mida creek appreciate the value of cultural tourism.

Besides establishing a restaurant within Mida creek that will be serving those touring the sites, the Bidii na Kazi women group has also started another project where they will be using canoes to transport visitors to tourist sites.

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”Those are already two aspects of cultural history because the restaurant has been designed in a cultural and historic manner not a modern restaurant. It has made use traditional technology and local materials which is part of enhancing the cultural aspect,” she said.

The Bidii na Kazi women group has already established a restaurant within Mida creek that will be serving those touring the sites.

Other aspects of environmental conservation include developing nurseries from mangrove seedlings and planting them within areas threatened by erosion and human activities.

Ciza Bita, an Underwater archaeologist from the NMK and who is the lead researcher in the project, says the project seeks to utilize maritime cultural heritage to better or create resilience among communities living within Mida Creek and its environs.

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Bita said the project begun in 2015 following extensive underwater archaeology studies that included diving from Watamu creek to Mida to map and identify submerged underwater cultural heritage. He says the team also conducted terrestrial archaeology where they surveyed Kirepwe Island, north and southern part of the Mida creek, where several heritage sites including a shipwreck were discovered.

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