By Charles Ogallo
Hundreds of Kenyans took the Weekend of World Clean-up to the coastal beaches after a report named Kenya the second worst polluter of the ocean in Africa.
Over 1,000 volunteers’ organizations and individuals came out this time to participate in the annual International Clean-up held at the Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach in Mombasa on 19th September 2009 in what was seen as an attempt to prove the report wrong this year.
The Coastal Clean-up exercise was also held in Kilifi, Malindi, Diani, Watamu, Shimoni, Kikambala, Fort Jesus and English Point where hundreds of other volunteers gathered to clear the beaches of debris .
According to last years International Ocean Report done by over 148 ocean conservancies in Washington DC, Kenya was named the second worst polluters in the shame list after Nigeria.
Used shotgun shells, over 2000 used condoms, fridges and gas cookers were collected during the last years clean -up exercise in Watamu and Shimoni along the Kenyan Coast, the report says.
Kenya debris rate is believed to be increasing each year due to increase in the number of recreation activities along the Coast.
Fred Sewe who is the Managing Director for International Coastal Clean-up admited that the recreation activities have approximately risen to 300 percent in just under one year, and said stakeholders and the public should be sensitized and guided on dangers of marine pollution which is a major threat to the environment.
"Ocean Conservancy's Coastal Clean-up engages volunteer organizations and individuals to remove trash and debris from the world's beaches and waterways; to identify the sources of the debris, and to change behaviors that cause marine debris in the first place," he added.
Many volunteers who participated in the exercise sounded their interests and support in keeping on with the campaign and lobbying other Kenyans to join the fight against pollution of the most endeared coastal marine environment.
“Our beaches need to be protected from pollution and I think local authorities neighboring the Kenya coastline needs to come up with renewed by-laws on marine environment preservation”. Says Tom Anjere, a senior provincial administrator based in the coastal city of Mombasa.
An official from the Ministry of Environment who presided over the beach clean-up added that Kenya will be looking to break all records by mobilizing tens of millions of volunteers in support of the environment after the 17th Clean Up the World Weekend.
Held in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Clean Up the World Weekend is the cornerstone event of this global campaign.
The campaign has grown steadily since the inaugural event in 1993 with activities ranging from cleaning up small villages to overhauling entire countries.
According to Clean the World, one of the organizers of this year’s event the world weekend provides the perfect opportunity for communities to unite to take practical measures to help tackle environmental issues such as climate change on a global scale.
From tree planting and re-vegetation to waste reduction and recycling, Clean Up the World volunteers from Algeria to Kenya in Africa, Australia to Vanuatu in Asia Pacific, Iraq to United Arab Emirates in West Asia, Argentina to Venezuela in the Americas and Austria to the United Kingdom in Europe joined the campaign to show the world that acting on a local level can positively impact what is a global problem.
UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner praised communities participating in Clean Up the World for the important contribution they were making to the global effort to improve the environment and address climate change.
“In 80 days from now, the world’s leaders will be meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark to negotiate what, we all hope, will be a path-breaking new agreement on how to address climate change. We are faced with many dramatic developments that will affect citizens, rich and poor, in north and south, and east and west” Mr. Steiner said.
Since the start of the campaign, Clean Up the World members worldwide have collected an estimated 3,574,991 tonnes of rubbish - enough to fill 5,710 Olympic size swimming pools. Plastic, glass, metal and cigarette butts are among the most commonly found rubbish items every year.