The Sanya people traditionally lived in the East African coastal forests, hunting the animals and living off the natural resources. Although people no longer live inside Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, a large population of mostly Giriama people now live around the forest boundary. Roughly 104,000 people live in the fifty or so villages bordering the forest. Most of these people are subsistence farmers, growing enough maize, cassava and beans for themselves and their families
Around Mida Creek, people rely heavily on fishing and mangrove cutting for food and building materials. Their only income is derived from any excess which they are able to sell. Earning enough to provide for their children's school fees is therefore very difficult. As a result many children receive a limited
education, and very few have the funds to attend secondary school.
Because of poverty, local people are heavily reliant on "free" natural resources. Inevitably, the communities have a strong relationship with the forest and creek. Hence the need to provide sustainable sources of income which derive directly from the local environment.