Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association
Our plastic challenge
Plastic pollution has attracted great attention in Kenya in the recent years due to the widespread littering throughout the country. This has led to environmental degradation, with impacts seen in both riverine and oceanic systems and wildlife designated areas.
In 2017, the Kenya government banned the use and importation of single-use plastic, a measure to curb plastic pollution. There is still limited focus promoting upstream collection of plastic to preserve value and promote reuse.
Currently, there is minimal effort in plastic waste management as sorting of plastic is done in containment areas/dumpsites only to meet the demands of the limited recycling companies. Most of the major dumpsites like Mwakirunge in Mombasa city are not protected and as a result unsorted/unrecyclable plastic waste finds it way in to the Indian Ocean with detrimental impacts on marine species, habitat and impacting on the local livelihoods of people who depend on this marine resource. Noteworthy, recent closure of the unprotected Kibarani dumpsite that had existed since the 1950s, has seen tremendous changes in the adjacent marine environment of Makupa creek. Furthermore, the closure has seen reduction even of air pollution resulting from instantaneous fires from the dumped materials.
Most urban areas produce large quantities of plastic waste, mostly generated from the middle-class areas due to their preference for plastic as a cheap mode of packaging. Hence, there is need for culture change among the middle-class community in managing plastic waste. Furthermore, culture change among the different societal classes and generations will contribute greatly in management of wastes generated from households.
With no organized or official recycling programs, single use plastic bottles, plastic food wrappers/packaging material and Styrofoam will continue to remain a menace to the marine environment. Furthermore, even with the proposed ban of single use plastic bottles in the parks and beaches that will be effected in June 2020, generally there will be need for stringent measures on law enforcement in Kenya.
Dr. Eric Okuku - Team leader
The Project Investigator, Dr. Okuku coordinates the projects activities in addition to macro- and Meso litter quantification and characterization in Marine Litter Monitoring surveys.
Linet Kiteresi - Project member
In this project, Ms. Kiteresi leads degradation and evolution experiments of plastic marine litter and marine litter monitoring surveys.
Gilbert Owato - Project member
Mr Owato has been among the steering members who actively coordinated Kenya Marine Debris Volunteer Programme (KMDVP) from the year 2015 to date. He will be the team leader on the floating and riverine survey.
Catherine Mwalugha- Project member
Ms Mwalugha, part of the Kenya Marine Debris Volunteer Programme (KMDVP), is the lead team member for the beach litter monitoring and is a part of the degradation experiment.
Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) is a State Corporation recognized as a national research institution. KMFRI’s mandate is to undertake research in marine and freshwater fisheries, aquaculture, environmental and ecological studies and marine research including chemical and physical oceanography. This provides scientific data and information for sustainable exploitation, management and conservation of Kenya’s fisheries and other aquatic resources through policy formulation and briefs, and contribute to National strategies of food, poverty alleviation, clean environment and creation of employment.