Finalist of the Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa 2017

Serah Munguti

Kenya

Since 2007, Serah has spent her time advocating locally, nationally and internationally for the conservation of the Tana River Delta, Kenya. The Delta is a 130,000-hectare wetlands area rich in natural resources. It supports two endemic primates, the endangered Tana River Colobus and Tana River Crested Mangabey, 350 bird species and internationally important populations of 22 water birds. It also provides a migration corridor for elephants from Tsavo National Park. Despite this natural wealth resident pastoralist, farmer and fisher communities (ca 102,000 people), are amongst the poorest in Kenya (77% exist on less than US$ 1.9 a day). When Serah started working in the Delta, communities and biodiversity were seriously threatened by land grabs for large-scale agriculture projects. Conversion of the region seemed inevitable.

Serah grew up in Machakos and she worked incredibly hard to gain a place at Moi University to study conservation. Her passion for wildlife developed from watching birds on her grandmother’s farm. After University, Serah joined Nature Kenya as a programme assistant, quickly progressing to advocacy and communications manager. In 2005, she won a scholarship and completed an MSc in water and coastal management at Cadiz University. Serah spends her time working on relationships between people and biodiversity, particularly governance of natural resources. She empowers local conservation groups to claim rights to manage resources sustainably and advocates for changes to policies and plans to support them.

I want my children and my family to live in a better world and therefore I will not stand by while species go extinct.

Serah spearheaded the Land Use Plan (LUP) and Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) throughout the Tana Delta area in 2015, which won the 2016 UK’s Royal Town Planning Institute’s International Award for Planning Excellence. She has also fronted community livelihoods projects in the Tana Delta supporting farmers, fishermen, and pastoralists to pilot sustainable production methods. Communities earned in excess of Ksh. 20 million from crop production, honey, fish farming, cattle dips and milk marketing over a two-year period.

She says “nature matters to all of us. It is the food we eat, the medicine we use, the fuel we use and the clothes we wear. We should all do our part in conserving the natural environment. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to future generations.”

Serah also sits on various national and international working groups including Kenya Wetlands Forum and the BirdLife Africa Sites and Casework Taskforce. She also chairs Afri Water, a regional NGO group.

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