USAID to reward innovators in fight on plastic pollution

A man cleans plastic bottles by the banks of River Ndarugu in Nakuru County. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has launched a programme to reward entrepreneurs who come up with the most innovative ways of curbing plastic pollution at the Kenyan Coast.

USAID in partnership with Global Affairs Canada and Challenge Works, a United Kingdom-based organisation rolled out the programme where the top three Coast-based firms and entrepreneurs will share Sh7 million.

The programme will be scaled up to the country’s marine parks and beaches as international partners increase support to the Kenyan government to help fight plastic pollution that is plaguing the Coast.

The Kenyan coastline is grappling with high levels of plastic waste being dumped in the Indian Ocean, beaches and other water bodies, posing a huge threat to marine life and the tourism sector.

“Plastic pollution in Africa is one of the biggest ecological challenges that the world is facing. This is particularly true in Mombasa, where approximately 120 tonnes of plastic waste every day, a significant proportion of which is leaking into marine environments,” Constance Agyeman, Director at Challenge Works said.

Kenya banned single-use plastics in conservation areas including national parks and reserves two years ago but dumping has continued along the beaches, prompting the need of innovative measures to curb the menace.

The United Nations Environmental Programme estimates that 3.7 kilogrammes of plastic is dumped in Mombasa’s waters per capita every year, highlighting the dire state of affairs facing marine life.

Mombasa's economy relies mainly on tourism and experts have warned that continued choking of the coastline presents a huge to the county and Kenya’s fortunes from the millions of tourists who flock the beaches.

State agencies including the Kenya Coast Guard Service (KCGS) have raised the alarm over increased dumping of plastic waste along the Kenyan Coast, notable beaches in Lamu, Malindi, Kilifi and Kwale.

The competition that targets entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 25 years who are based at the Coast runs from this month to May next year.

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