KWETU: Early Beginnings

The organization was founded by Ulrike Neubert, a German, who has been living in Kenya for many years. In the mid 1990’s, she chose to implement and transfer her visions and ideas into KWETU, as she saw the vast underutilized natural resources along the coast, where people were nonetheless living in adverse poverty due to high unemployment.

She established KWETU along with five other individuals, professionals in fields of Marine aquaculture, by engaging ten youth members from the local community on building of the centre.

The KWETU Training Centre for Sustainable Development was founded in 1996. It has been duly registered under the NGO Act of 1991 Laws of Kenya since 1997. The name KWETU is a Swahili word, meaning “Our place, our Home.”

A newspaper clipping highlights opening of the Kwetu Training Centre in 1997

A newspaper clipping highlights opening of the Kwetu Training Centre in 1997

The vision of KWETU has stayed true to this initial catalyst for action, primarily working with youth through outreach and awareness-raising activities. Kilifi District has a population of approximately half a million people, of whom more than 60% are below the age of 25.

Within the last decade, the town of Mtwapa has grown into a thriving destination for tourists on the Swahili coast. However, this has not been a rich source of direct employment.

KWETU has therefore identified great potential for accessing this industry through small Eco-enterprises, producing goods such as honey, fish and shellfish, processed fruit chutneys, and medicinal products, or establishing ecotourism attractions centered on the mangrove forests.

With these challenges in mind, KWETU‘s specific objectives are: to promote and establish mariculture and silviculture technologies in Kilifi and Kwale Districts; to diversify the livelihood options of local communities dependent on mangrove wetlands for their subsistence; and to advocate for the conservation and sustainable use of mangroves in coastal communities.