Women volunteers join hands to clean up plastic litter in beaches

Personnel from the Kenya Coast Guard Service and the Kenya Wildlife Service take part in the clean up at Copa Cabana Public Beach in Mtwapa, Kilifi County. [Robert Menza, Standard] 

Some 250 volunteers drawn from the Association of Women Managers in the Maritime Sector in Eastern and Southern Africa (Womesa), Kenya Coast Guard Service (KCGS) and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) have joined hands to rid coastal beaches of plastic pollution.

Speaking after activities at Copa Cabana beach in Mtwapa, Womesa Kenya Chapter vice-chairperson, Joyce Marangu Awino, said their aim is to prevent pollution through sensitisation of locals on conservation through beach clean-ups.

Ms Awino, who is also the Director of Enforcement and Emergency Response at the KCGS, said regular beach clean-up and public sensitisation would help in sustaining livelihoods, games or recreation, tourism and diverse business activities.

She said the exercise was part of Womesa Kenya-GloLitter Partnerships (GLP), a project funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and led by the International Maritime Organisation in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation, and Ocean Conservancy.

“You can see the amount of trash that has been picked from both land and sea. Noting the evidence of the trash from the sea, there is no doubt that the same originates from land,” Ms Awino said.

Besides Copa Cabana beach, the team also did clean-ups at Kanamai and Kuruwitu beaches in Kilifi county. According to the United Nations, at least 800 species worldwide are affected by marine debris, and as much as 80 per cent of that litter is plastic. 

Fish, seabirds, sea turtles, and marine mammals can become entangled in or ingest plastic debris, causing suffocation and drowning.

“You will agree with me that even for local fisherfolk, the quantities of fish harvested within our artisanal fishing grounds have continued to dwindle over the years and that this is directly correlated to pollution,” Ms Awino said.

She said the event is organised also as part of Womesa’s contribution to the 2022 International Women’s Day in line with their commitment to the GloLitter project.

The commitment aims to ensure “Empowerment of Beach Management Units in mitigation of pollution effects as a result of abandoned, lost, or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) in Kilifi County.” 

Womesa Secretary, Winnie Maina, said the plastic menace has continued to be rampant on beaches all over the world and Kenyan beaches are not an exception.

Ms Maina said there was urgent need to explore new and existing legally binding agreements to address marine plastic pollution.

Lynette Kiteresi Mbai from the Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute (Kemfri) said since most plastic debris found in the ocean originates from land, it is important to curb illegal dumping on land.

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