Bahari Moja are working at a hyper local level to tackle the global problem of plastic pollution by finding innovative ways to deal with waste that washes up on their shores from the international community. In May 2023, LEF began supporting their work through the Conservation Collective Depeche Mode and Hublot Memento Mori Tour charity partnership.
The grant awarded to Bahari Moja is focused on strengthening the waste management system and raising more environmental and conservation awareness among communities and children.
Overview of Activities
Over 3 clean ups, Bahari Moja and have engaged 240 volunteers and collected 5274 kgs of waste from their beaches. Of this, 2352 kgs are plastics. All plastics have been transported to the Flipflopi recycling site on Lamu Island.
Flip-flops and old fishing gears were the largest single items collected by weight. 1100kgs have been collected of each item. Both materials are difficult to recycle locally or nationally. The group are creating flip-flop decorations from used flip-flops, but these decorations take a long time to create and barely put a dent in the high weights collected. However, the creation and sale of the decorations does boost the morale of the community, for instance, one flip-flop curtain was sold to County Governor Issa Timamy, while another hangs proudly at the LEF ‘office’.
Nonetheless, this means that with every beach clean, half of the debris collected from the beaches has no onward value chain and is stored at the Bahari Moja site in anticipation of finding a suitable way to finally dispose of these materials.
Environmental and conservation awareness raising continued at the Mkokoni primary school. These sessions are underlining the harmful effects plastic pollution has on the environment, and the different ways of up-cycling waste to transform them into desirable items. A further 50 students were also educated on the different types of sea turtles and the importance of protecting them.
There are ongoing competitions being ran including an essay competition asking students to explain how plastic pollution is harming them and their environment. The winners are expected to be announced in January 2024.
A key part of the project was also to raise awareness about the Bahari Moja project. This has been achieved by creating a website: baharimoja.com and creating and distributing leaflets raising awareness on coastal plastic waste and concerns around marine pollution. These were shared among government authorities, potential partners and donors, as well as tourism outlets
Finally, good news continues to come from the rise in the number of turtle nesting sites. Kiunga Turtle Conservation and Bahari Moja patrol teams have reported a total of 79 nesting sites as of October 2023. This is more than double what was reported in 2022.
The activities of the Bahari Moja team are impressive and continue to bring hope to the community, despite the relentless amount of flip-flops, hard plastic and ropes found on the beach. Not to mention that there are limited opportunities for recycling or even responsible disposal.
These materials can have huge negative environmental impacts as they destroy the habitat for fish and cover the seabed affecting the growth of sea grass. Therefore, it’s imperative a solution is found regarding the final disposal of these items. It is also clear that more awareness must be done with fishermen to educate them on how their gears are negatively affecting the environment.
Furthermore, as the beach is the last place the plastic ends up. Much of it is broken down into tiny bits due to the hot temperatures and lengthy time at sea, making it difficult to collect but also poses a danger to sea mammals as they ingest the pieces.
While the project continues – there is still one large clean up activity to report on and many educational projects ongoing – we are still awed by the continued dedication to keeping the beaches of Mkokoni clean under such relentless circumstances. Many more would have given up by now, yet the community of Mkokoni continue, and retain hope that things will change!