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Conserving Aquatic Biodiversity in African Blue Economy


World Health Organisation now warns that antimicrobial resistance is a major cause of death as well as morbidity

By Judith Akolo

Antimicrobial resistance is is becoming a major concern globally with studies showing that it is directly causing over 1.27 deaths annually.

According to Dr Haileyesus Getahun, the Director in charge of Global Coordination and Partnership on AMR, and Director, Quadripartite Joint Secretariat on AMR at World Health Organization (WHO), antimicrobial resistance is also indirectly causing 4.95 million deaths annually.

“The greatest burden is in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia,” said Dr. Getahun, and adds that, these are the lower middle-income countries and small island developing states.

Dr. Getahun notes that the diagnosis of bacterial infections is not well developed in the global South because of few diagnostics available and very expensive, “for example we have diagnostic tools that can differentiate between a flu and a bacterial infection, such that if it is a flu such a patient may not benefit from antibiotics, so having such would be beneficial but it is still non-existent in most of the countries in the global South.”

He is calling for proper training of health workers to ensure proper antimicrobial stewardship.

The economic burden as a result of drug resistant infections will run into trillions of dollars, he says, with studies indicating that US$ 1.2 may be needed in additional health expenditure per year by 2050.

“With up to 24 million additional people falling into extreme poverty by the year 2030,” he says and adds, “most of who will be in the low-income countries.”

Noting that antimicrobials are shared between human, animals and plants, “causing an interface of the challenge hence the correlation of transmission of resistant bacteria between food producing animals and humans processing the animals, with antimicrobial resistance having increased in pigs, chicken and cattle.”

The main drivers of antimicrobial resistance is the misuse of antimicrobials is the main cause of antimicrobial resistance, less water sanitation and hygiene that results into infections that require antimicrobials is increasing resistance.

“We cannot address antimicrobial resistance by only looking at one sector alone, we need a multi-sectoral approach through one health, which is an integrated, unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimize the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants and the wider environment,” says Dr. Getahun.


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By Francis Mtalaki 
Kenya has joined other Africa Union member states in seeking harmonization of blue economy regulations in the quest to ensure full sustainability and exploitation of the multi-Billion blue economy opportunities.
Kenya is among the countries that have suffered from illegal fishing, ocean pollution and other maritime crimes perpetrated by foreign fishing multinationals that have threatened the sustainability and conservation of aquatic biodiversity.
Acting director Africa Union inter Africa bureau for animal resources AU-IBAR Nick Nwankpa said Kenya is among countries that are endowed with great maritime resources thus there is need to harness the resource potential in line with standardized procedure.
 “The challenge is lack of harmonization of laws, some people use chemicals to fish, while other people use trawlers with nets that are not allowed, a lot of sea pollution, we need to regulate this in one voice so that we can harness the blue economy within the confines with the law,” he added.
He said many resources have remained untapped within the African Maritime sphere adding that control and enforcing regulations that restricts multinational organizations from exploiting resources is important to enforce.
“We are endowed with great maritime resources in oceans; we need to put regulations in place that will be harmonized along the continent so that a person in one country knows what is required of them so as to effectively protect biodiversity, “said Nick Nwankpa.
He made the remarks in Mombasa yesterday on the sidelines of a three day conserving aquatic biodiversity in Africa Blue economy project technical committee meeting bringing together Africa Union development partners.
“Conserving aquatic biodiversity is key by strengthening institutions that will lead to enhancing governance to these resources, we need to keep best practices so that fishing can be sustainable, and there will be no illegal fishing and pollution,” said Nwankpa.
Kenya AU-IBAR aquatic biodiversity expert specialist Joel Mukenye said Kenya is making significant strides in optimizing conservation in the blue economy while fighting climate change impacts to protect aquatic biodiversity.
“we very well understand that we have the African blue economy strategy, but now we want to ratify a technical committee that will steer the blue economy strategy in Africa,” he said. He said in the project, the committee will keep in check member states.
“We are at an advanced stage in developing a blue economy strategy and as a country we are looking at our priorities which are already captured in a template developed by IGAD,” he added.
 The committee is seeking to harmonise regulations to ensure sustainability of blue economy opportunities without necessarily having to destroy aquatic biodiversity that commands significant economic potential.
Dr Alberta Sagoe, a gender policy and strategy expert in the AU-IBAR said women have been marginalized in the implementation process of blue economy matters and thus the committee will factor in the women component during the implementation of the project.
Fishermen have been traditional users of seas, they have skills of managing the ecosystems, and as technology advances, they have been sidelined, so we want them to be involved in the affairs of managing the ecosystem,” said Sagoe.
“Most of the time in decision making ,women are abit marginalized, we are hoping that there will be a conscious decision in managing aquatic resources where women are involved actively,” said Sagoe.
Among the development partners are the Swedish international development agency which is funding the project. The stakeholders include public private, women organizations, research institutions, international institutions, such as FAO, UNEP among others.

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The Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management has released a policy brief that presents nine key institutional and infrastructure factors that promote local blue growth from the use of marine resources in developing countries.

The policy brief is based on four background studies, all addressing the same question: what is needed for marine resources to actually generate local blue growth?

Here, local blue growth refers to economic revenue and wellbeing in the local community from the sustainable use of ocean resources, such as fisheries, aquaculture, or tourism. Download the document from below or access via

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By Judith Akolo

The FishGov-2 Project Manager at the African Union Development Agency – NEPAD (AUDA-NEPAD) Dr Clement Adjorlolo says the Blue Economy holds great potential for Africa’s transformation. He argues that the blue economy as the new frontier for human development is important, “in especially economic and social transformation of the continent,” he says.

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By Judith Akolo

As the world moves towards investment in the Blue Economy, the African Union – InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) has embarked on building capacity for African Union member states.

The Acting Director of AU-IBAR Dr. Nick Nwankpa says capacity building is critical for the continent to be able to harness its potential and exploit the vast aquatic resources for the good of the continent.

Speaking at a meeting on Conserving Aquatic Biodiversity in African Blue Economy held at a Naivasha hotel, Dr. Nwankpa lauded the close cooperation and the support offered by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) to the project that runs from October 2021 to October 2024.

Dr. Nwankpa said the project is important for the continent as it aims to build capacity among member states, “as well as harmonising those capacities in order to maximise the benefits by member states in utilizing the aquatic resources sustainably,” he added.

The objective of the project is to enhance the policy environment, regulatory frameworks and institutional capacities of AU member states and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to sustainably utilize and conserve aquatic biodiversity and ecosystems.


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By Judith Akolo

An Expert in fisheries at the African Union – InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) Dr. Mohamed Seisay has expressed worry over threats to aquatic biodiversity in Africa. He says the rising temperatures in the water bodies is forcing many species of fish to move deeper into the ocean, seas and lakes.

Speaking at the Conserving Aquatic Biodiversity in African Blue Economy meeting held in Naivasha, Dr. Seisay urged African Union member states to work towards increasing vegetation cover through planting trees as a mitigation measure in reducing carbon emissions.

“We need to implement strategies in order to encourage African Union member states to use nature based solutions like planting trees, so when you plant trees you minimize the effect of climate change on the wildlife and the aquatic ecosystems,” he said.

Dr. Seisay who is a fisheries expert notes that certain fish species have started moving deeper into the oceans, seas and lakes due to the warming temperatures in the shallow waters, a matter he said could complicate sustainable fisheries on the continent. “Climate change is one of the issues we are trying to address under this project, in order to have resilient aquatic ecosystems,” he said and added, “some of the fish species have a particular temperature that they can accommodate, if the temperature is very high due to climate change effect, when the species of fish moves, then it means the fisherfolk have a way of reaching them, at times is through have to use motorised boats.”

Dr. Seisay called for zonation of Lake Victoria in order to reduce conflicts among fisherfolk who use boats and canoes to fish and those that are engaged in fish farming using the cages. Dr. Seisay urged member states to also put in place guidelines and regulations that will guide fish farmers on sustainable ways of growing the fish without interfering with the ecosystem. “There is need to look at the kind of feed being used to feed the fish in terms of the density, so that it does not percolate into the entire ecosystem,” he said.

Studies by AU-IBAR have shown that overexploitation of living species, pollutions from several sources including land-based municipal, oil, gas and agricultural activities poses a threat to aquatic biodiversity. The report further indicates that, uncontrolled introduction of exotic species in aquaculture systems, effluents from mining activities are also among threats to sustainable aquatic ecosystems.


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By Judith Akolo

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya says that Africa’s only hope in achieving food security lies in the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources.

The Cabinet Secretary noted that, while many African Union member states and developing economies aspire to unleash the Blue Economy potential for the benefit of their citizenry, “over-exploitation of ocean resources, inadequate financial resources, weak human and technical capacities inhibits their potential to fully exploit the resources.

The Cabinet Secretary made the remarks in a speech read for him by the Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Lawrence Omuhaka at the launch of the Conserving Aquatic Biodiversity in African Blue Economy project being implemented by the African Union – InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) with funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

Munya said that limited access to relevant technologies and innovations, insecurity, climate change as well as weak governance mechanisms among African Union member states is limiting their ability to achieve the full potential of the blue spaces in a sustainable manner.

The Cabinet Secretary said that appropriate use and conservation of marine, inland aquatic and coastal resources can contribute to food security, create jobs ensure inclusive economic growth and move the continent towards sustainable economic growth, as well as realize climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Munya said that the deterioration of marine ecosystems pose a threat to sustainable food security and livelihoods of societies that are heavily dependent on fishing adding that “in order to truly benefit from Blue Economy resources for generations, we must make deliberate efforts to sustain healthy Blue Economy ecosystems.”

The Cabinet Secretary warned that Africa continues to bear the biggest burden to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, mostly perpetrated by foreign fishing fleets leading to loses of billions of dollars annually. All the above-mentioned human led activities have led to disruption of ecosystems and endanger of aquatic biodiversity.

The Acting Director of the African Union – InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) Dr. Nick Nwankpa lauded the support offered by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through funding of the “Conserving Aquatic Biodiversity in African Blue Economy’, project that runs from October 2021 to October 2024.

Dr. Nwankpa said the project is important for the continent as it aims to build capacity among member states, “as well as harmonising those capacities in order to maximise the benefits by member states in utilizing the aquatic resources sustainably,” he added.

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