Connecting marine ecosystem services to human well-being: insights from participatory well-being assessment in Kenya

Authors Abunge, C.; Coulthard, S.; Daw, T.M.
Year of Publication 2013
Type of Publication Journal Article
Journal Ambio
Volume 42
Issue 8
Pagination 1010-1021
Open Access No


The linkage between ecosystems and human well-being is a focus of the conceptualization of "ecosystem services" as promoted by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. However, the actual nature of connections between ecosystems and the well-being of individuals remains complex and poorly understood. We conducted a series of qualitative focus groups with five different stakeholder groups connected to a small-scale Kenyan coastal fishery to understand (1) how well-being is understood within the community, and what is important for well-being, (2) how people's well-being has been affected by changes over the recent past, and (3) people's hopes and aspirations for their future fishery. Our results show that people conceive well-being in a diversity of ways, but that these can clearly map onto the MA framework. In particular, our research unpacks the "freedoms and choices" element of the framework and argues for greater recognition of these aspects of well-being in fisheries management in Kenya through, for example, more participatory governance processes.