SDG Lab – Not in My Ocean

Reducing waste in East African Coastal cities and communities

The lab focuses on the rapidly growing volume of plastic waste on Kenya’s beaches (a clear sign of increased solid waste in creeks and the ocean) and Kenya’s ministerial ban of plastic bags. The goal is to reduce plastic waste in the environment, and to use this nexus between waste and Mombasa’s beautiful beaches to promote change. Reducing beach waste is a key element in improving quality of life for city residents, improving Kenya’s image as a nature-based tourist destination and addressing one of the critical ocean health challenges.

The Lab is exploring how to strengthen and extend Kenya’s plastic bag ban so that less plastic waste is released into the environment in Mombasa, more of it is collected and potentially recycled and reused, and that this transformational change extends to other types of solid (and other) waste.

The Lab bridges two SDG Goals –  SDG 14 and SDG 11, to help document how well we are achieving targets 14.1 (reduce marine pollution, in particular from land-based activities and marine debris) and 11.6 (reduce the environmental impact of cities, including in municipal and other waste).

The Lab will draw participants from various stakeholders and the community centered on Mombasa’s main public beach. It will explore the innovative ideas and social change that may be needed to meet these two targets, and the type of tradeoffs involved. Different stakeholders such as community volunteer cleaners, traders, varied recycling and up-cycling companies may participate, based on the actions they can take to promote a desirable outcome, and challenges and opportunities that crop up at the site.

For more information, read on below:

  • Who is and can be involved?
    • The public, including beach-goers, and residents of different income levels;
    • youth and unemployed job-seekers;
    • volunteer beach-cleaners, whether for income generation or satisfaction; businesses, including tourism and non-tourism-related;
    • County/municipal government officials, including on waste management, tourism, environment, business and the Governor’s office; NGOs and researchers.

    The Jomo Kenyatta Public beach, also the biggest along Kenya’s coast has been selected as a suitable site due to:

    • High human traffic and diverse vending activities hence high waste production.
    • Indiscriminate littering
    • Presence of an undesignated and poorly serviced dumping zone – an environmental health hazard and an eye-sore.
    • Proximity to a river flowing through an informal settlement and feeding the beach with solid waste.
    Why now?

    There is urgent need to tackle the plastic menace, lend voice to the global plastic revolution and action towards sustainable environmental protection. Connecting the gaps and bridging links between stakeholders, the lab is highlighting the need for effective social attitude change and effective governance in the waste management pathway and will enable the identification and mapping of plastic and waste hotspots, from which attention to relevant stakeholders can be called.


    – The lab is using animated scenarios based on the Transformative Scenario Process that were focus sessions proposed at the Seedbeds Conference.

    – Dialogues to capture perceptions of different actors on solid waste management and tentative solutions have been initiated.

    – Exchange visits between model and pilot sites will be supported to stimulate action.

    – Effectiveness of frameworks guiding solid waste management will be trialed at the Public beach.

    • Action, monitoring and Solutions
      • – Participatory mapping of solid waste entry points and hotspots; citizen science approach.
      • – Supporting volunteer cleaning initiatives to boost the morale of the community in taking social responsibility over their environment.
      • – Establishing linkages critical to implementing actions along the solid waste management hierarchy.
      • – Ideas fronted by stakeholders are already being used to develop the 1st prototype i.e. the solid waste sorting and separation Trial runs are underway at the site


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