David Ouma, UN Volunteer Project Management Assistant, collects field stories for Nairobi Convention at Sabaki River, Kenya.
David Ouma, UN Volunteer Project Management Assistant, collects field stories for Nairobi Convention at Sabaki River, Kenya.

New balance for life below water

Oceans cover more than 70 per cent of earth's surface. They help regulate the planet's climate and supply much of its oxygen. Alarming damage to life below water – estimated at more than 50 per cent decline in marine populations – puts climate, food security and employment at risk. And this is exactly the area where David Ouma, national UN Volunteer from Kenya makes his contribution. 

My name is David Ouma and I am a national UN Volunteer Specialist. I serve as Project Management Assistant at United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi. 

My academic background in Biology and my six-month internship in marine conservation at the Kenyan coast led to this UN Volunteer assignment. 

With the Nairobi Convention Secretariat at UNEP, I promote sustainable blue economies using ecosystem-based management and marine spatial planning. The sustainable use of oceans and coastal resources refers to blue economy. Marine spatial planning uses maps to identify how an ocean area is used, and what natural resources and habitat exist.

In tangible terms, my responsibilities include data collection and field stories, analysis and presentation of marine spatial planning and ocean governance."

David Ouma (first from right) with colleagues from the Nairobi Convention Secretariat at Sabaki River Estuary in Kenya. @UNV, 2022.


The countries around the Western Indian Ocean face constraints regarding ocean governance – in particular for fisheries and for the sectors using ecosystems. That's why partnerships between countries and organizations become imperative to advance coordinated efforts for life below water.

My volunteering journey with the Nairobi Convention allows me to witness the partnership in coastal and marine conservation, protection and development in the West Indian Ocean region while raising important discussion points. One of which is to engage local communities not only as participants but as genuine strategic partners."

I support a Sida-funded project with the South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission (SWIOFC) on blue growth. This improves the coordination of marine and coastal governance, and fisheries management for the countries in the region – while fulfilling Sustainable Development Goals 13 and 14 centering on climate change and life below water.

To measure the urgency on marine issues, I prepare awareness materials and annual reporting on the progress of Nairobi Convention-SWIOFC partnership. Besides environmental protection management, it includes small-scale funding agreements between UNEP and the environment ministries in Madagascar, Mozambique and Tanzania."

David Ouma (right) collects field stories from Tim Andrews, Senior Programme Manager and Coordinator of SAPPHIRE project at Nairobi Convention Secretariat. @UNV, 2022.

We have to amplify the issue of marine governance and advance a sustainable path to blue economy in the region, and across the world."

As I expand my understanding of the climate and life below water, I know that we urgently need to work together to create a new balance with the ocean – that restores its vibrancy and brings it new life.