Have you ever thought of attending a meeting in a suspended conference hall in a creek?
Have you ever tried to imagine that as the presentation is under way, water would sweep underneath the hall?
Or that you would have the magnificent view of a mangrove forest as you took a tea break?
Well, now you don’t have to imagine any longer. A group of locals at Majaoni, Utange village in Mombasa county have constructed a structure that depicts what a modern-day conference room and a modern cuisine restaurant looks like in a creek.
The Mangrove Ecosystem Information Centre is managed by locals calling themselves the Comensum Self Help Group. The word Comensum is an acronym for Community Environmental Sustainable Mariculture.
When I visited the centre recently, I was attracted by the uniqueness of the structure, which stands in a 20-hectare mangrove forest along the Mtwapa creek.
There is a 100-seater mangrove conference hall, a modern office with computers, a TV room and a library all in a makuti (thatched) and wooden-wall structure. Adjacent to the conference hall is a modern restaurant, which has also been completed and will soon start to offer local dishes.
The restaurant and the conference hall are connected by a boardwalk, which is also another captivating experience as one crosses it from one side of the centre to the other.
The restaurant, according to co-founder David Taura, can accommodate 60 guests for an eating experience. The library, which also acts as the IT and TV room, can accommodate 40 guests.
The project was funded with assistance from the World Bank through the Kenya Coast Development Program (KCDP) for Sh4.8 million.
“We received the grant from KCDP after the community contributed five per cent of the budgeted funds towards the project,” said group chairman Said Fondo.
Prior to the construction of the Mangrove Ecosystem Information Centre, the group, formed in 2012, was deeply involved in mangrove conservation and as of last week, they had planted over 150,000 mangroves, with more than 100,000 other seedlings awaiting in nurseries.
“We started with 20 members, 12 men and eight women in 2012 and our first assistance from KCDP was Sh500,000, which was channeled towards the mangrove conservation programme,” said Taura.
Mr Fondo said the centre will provide information about mangrove and marine conservation, adding that the restaurant is also convenient for visitors attending meetings and conferences.
The centre is about eight kilometres from Shanzu and easily accessible by both public and private means.
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