The third Saturday of September is marked as International Coastal Cleanup day. On 17th September 2016 a number of local organisations coordinated several beach clean ups along the Kenyan coast to contribute towards this Ocean Conservancy initiative. (Read more on previous events/anniversaries here)
As a build up to the event, the US Embassy in Nairobi organized a screening of the VICE documentary ‘Our Rising Oceans’ on the afternoon of the Friday 16th September at the MEWA Information Center, Mombasa. The screening was attended by over 100 enthusiastic people tightly packing the venue. Lead organisers of the cleanup such as KWS, also used this event as an opportunity to advertise and generate support for the cleanup, and provide instructions and information about the agenda and proceedings. CORDIO EA staff Mishal Gudka, Clay Obota and James Mbugua attended the screening and subsequent discussion, which was energetically led by Tatum Albertine from the US Embassy. The documentary was excellent, discussing global warming and the impacts climate change is having on the West Antarctic ice sheet and how this is contributing to rising sea-levels in places like Bangladesh. It also provides a useful insight into the global politics of climate change (See a synopsis here: http://www.hbo.com/vice/episodes/03/23-our-rising-oceans/synopsis.html).
Prior to the beach cleanup at Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach, CORDIO helped in the logistics of the event alongside other local volunteer partners and stakeholders such as KWS, The Haller Foundation, Wildlife Clubs of Kenya, Keen Kleaners, Kenya Maritime Authority, Aquatic Conservation and others. The event was very well organized by the volunteers, who were able to garner a number of generous donations and sponsorships from local businesses and organisations. A number of schools who are members of Wildlife Clubs of Kenya joined several other volunteers, including CORDIO, to collect over 80 large trash bags of rubbish weighing over 1200 Kilograms. The event was important for creating awareness of the damaging impact that marine litter has on the environment. Datasheets designed by the Ocean Conservancy were completed to provide detailed information on the type and quantities of various items of trash collected. CORDIO EA staff were recognized after the event and presented with appreciatory certificates.
The results from this cleanup can help local and national governments develop strategies to reduce certain kinds of litter. For example, small chewing gum wrappers were some of the most abundant items collected, and are usually used by Miraa (Khat) users around the beach. There is potential to change these locally produced gum wrappers and at the same time promote awareness. Regular beach users were notably absent from the beach cleanup illustrating the need for more awareness on the impacts of marine litter, and the need to increase a sense of stewardship in the local community. The lack of treatment of solid waste that has characterised this urban public beach for years continues to be a serious problem.
Overall, the two events in Mombasa were successful in creating awareness within the local public of the marine environment and issues around climate change and marine litter. We hope this will encourage action by County governments alongside local organisations to reduce all forms of pollution on our beaches.