Making a difference in the midst of COVID-19 Pandemic

Name of Project: “Cash for Trash” project

Founder: Watamu Marine Association (WMA) – Ken Ombok – Chairman

Location of Project: Watamu area

Turtle Bay Beach Resort is one of Kenya’s responsible tourism resorts in Watamu area and has always taken the lead in practicing sustainable tourism.  This is demonstrated in their operations and engagement of local communities to ensure there is equitable distribution of benefits accrued from tourism.  The resort has maintained an excellent record of commitment to the environment and community issues through their Community and Conservation office which has propelled them to become one of the few Gold eco-rated coastal resort in Kenya.

Being an eco-conscious resort, they are members of the Watamu Marine Association (WMA) that works with Environmental groups composed of youth and women groups to control the threat of non-biodegradable waste into the ocean. This waste in the form of marine debris pollutes the Marine Park beaches threatening vulnerable marine life. When endangered sea turtles ingest plastics mistaking them for jellyfish which is part of their natural diet, they eventually die due to internal problems and starvation due to the gut being blocked.

The gains the hotels and local environment groups in Watamu have made over the years have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The situation has meant complete closure of the resort for a couple of months as tourism activities were brought to a halt.  This meant that t the families, groups and communities dependent on tourism as a source of income had to find other ways of earning a living. It is in this period of adjustment that Turtle Bay Beach Resort and Watamu Marine Association partnered and came up with a way of engaging the locals in a “Cash for Trash” initiative. This initiative not only created an opportunity to support livelihood support to the locals but also ensured the marine beaches were cleaned up and the trash moved to appropriate locations.

Ongoing “cash for trash” cleanup along the Watamu beach

How it works

Turtle Bay Beach Resort in collaboration with Watamu Marine Association set aside a budget of Kshs. 810,000 to pay off locals for beach clean, purchase of necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and any necessary work equipment. The various environmental group members were engaged on a weekly basis on this project where they would collect all the non-biodegradable waste along the shores and later sort the waste along the various categories before transporting them to Eco-World for recycling purposes. At the end of each clean up and sorting activity, the members were paid Kshs. 500 each for their involvement.

This project was meant to run for a period of three months from April to June 2020 during which time approximately Kshs. 631,000 had been used to pay a total of 341 locals.  With a surplus of Kshs. 179,000 the project lifespan was extended beyond the initial three months.

At the Eco-World Centre, income is generated from the sale of recyclables. Besides selling crushed plastic to the recycling industries, the local community artists are making art and crafts from flip flops and plastic waste and selling them to the tourist outlets. This is a unique initiative at the Kenyan coast and is intended to raise public awareness to the problems related to waste and pollution and to demonstrate the potential of community solutions to waste management problems.

Waste sorting at Ecoworld before the recycling/repurposing starts

How YOU can take part in the “Cash for Trash” initiative

If you wish to join Turtle Bay Beach Resort and the Watamu Marine Association to promote conservation and provide the much needed income to the local community during this COVID-19 period, contact them through their website. For any queries or comments regarding this initiative, please feel free to contacts the WMA through stevetrott@watamu.biz

For more information visit their social media pages on:

Website: https://www.turtlebaykenya.com/

Website: http://www.watamu.biz/watamu-community.php?cid=32

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/watamumarineassociation

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WatamuMarine

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCr1faeIx_8d2XFqMTUekCPQ

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