Nairobi — Three startups in Mombasa county have been awarded $50,000 (Sh7.2 million) for their unique innovations designed to curb plastic pollution in the coastal region.
The three, Team Twende Green Ecocycle (1st Place) – KSh 3.5 million , Oceania Pacesetter (2nd Place) – Ksh 2.5 million and Team Eco-Redemptors (3rd Place) – KSh 1.2 million were picked for having the most effective solutions to tackle Mombasa’s marine plastics problem.
The Mombasa Plastics Prize Awards and Celebration by Challenge Works was the culmination of a six-month initiative funded by USAID and Global Affairs Canada.
Designed by Challenge Works, the prize sought to inspire and up-skill young leaders, especially women, aged 18-25, to develop creative interventions that encourage individuals and communities in Mombasa to address marine plastic pollution in informal settlements.
“I commend Challenge Works for its innovative design of prizes that involve not only the youth but the entire ecosystem in solving the County’s most pressing problems,” CECM Public Service Administration, Youth, Gender , Sports and Social Services Kenneth Amanbai said while representing the Governor of Mombasa.
“With these creative ideas that our young people have developed over the past few months, Mombasa is well on its way to achieving its Green Cities goals as outlined in our County Solid Waste Management policy.”
He added that such innovations were a step forward in terms of leading the country towards embracing innovative solutions from young people that can help reach the nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 11: making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
At the national level, the State Department of Environment & Climate Change has invested heavily in both policies and law enforcement to win the fight against plastic pollution.
In addition to banning the manufacturing, retailing, distribution and importation of plastic carrier and flat bags for commercial or household use in 2017, the Ministry also prohibited their use in protected areas in 2019.
During the ceremony, Director of Compliance and Enforcement at the National Environmental Management Association (NEMA) David Ong’are noted that plastics are the largest, most harmful and most persistent form of waste accounting for at least 85 percent of total marine waste.
“Mismanaged waste aggravates the triple climate change crisis; nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution,” he said.
Ong’are stated that the Ministry of Environment continues to invest in driving the country’s transition to a green growth and circular economy, which means focusing efforts on recycling, reuse, and reducing plastic waste.
Two such efforts are the Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan (2016-2030) and The Sustainable Waste Management Act 2022.
“With these investments, Kenya has strengthened its international reputation as a good steward of the environment. We are excited to see Mombasa County upholding these commitments against marine plastics mismanagement,” he said.
The The Mombasa Plastics Prize Awards was built upon the Afri-Plastics Challenge, a continent-wide plastics innovation challenge worth over Sh700 Million ($4.4M), which saw five Kenyan startups out of the total nine startups scoop over Sh340 Million ($2.1M) to scale their ideas at the inaugural Afri-Plastics Summit & Awards ceremony. The event was presided over by PS Environment, Festus Ngeno on March 17, 2023.
During the event USAID Kenya & East Africa Environment Office represenative Anna Ghnouly announced that USAID Kenya will be launching a business accelerator program to help the winners of the challenge take their ideas to the next level, and continue leading in the fight against ocean plastic pollution.
The Mombasa Plastics Prize is a timely initiative aligned with global efforts to find solutions to plastic pollution.
The Awards and Celebration event precedes UN’s 50th World Environment Day, celebrated annually on 5th June, with this year’s theme being solutions to plastic pollution in Côte d’Ivoire.