Kenya civil society comes together to launch zero plastics coalition

by Patricia Kombo

July 2, 2021 at 03:25:45 PM

On March 24th the Centre For Environment Justice and Development held a consultative meeting with grassroots organizations and other stakeholders in the waste management sector with support from Break Free From Plastic. The goal of the meeting was to deliberate on the need to form a unified civil society voice to champion plastic pollution reduction and elimination in Kenya.

With no space for civil society organizations to come together and advocate with a collective voice for a zero plastic waste Kenya, the group of organizations present at the meeting designed a set of recommendations around safeguarding the rights of the public against plastic and chemical pollution. 

Kenya has been a leading force against plastic pollution in Africa. In 2017, the country enacted a protective law against single use plastic which has been cited as a model for many other nations. However, since 2017, the country has faced many challenges in the implementation of the law including among others; illegal imports of plastic bags, poor enforcement of laws, and lobbying against the ban on plastics by the government through the Ministry of Trade and Ministry of the Environment.

A total of 24 participants drawn from various civil-society organizations across the country

attended the forum. Organizations such as Clean up Kenya, Slums Going Green and Clean, Kenya Safi, African sustainability Network, Strathmore University. James Wakibia, environmental activist and photojournalist championing the ban of single use plastics, was also present at the forum.

The impact

1. The members agreed to form a movement against plastic pollution and named it “CSOs for Zero Plastics in Kenya”

2. The members agreed that advocacy work should target both plastic reduction from upstream (production and; manufacturing as priority and downstream (waste management)

3. The members agreed to bring together all like-minded organizations including faith-based organizations (FBOs), community advocacy groups, youth initiatives, individuals advocating against plastic pollution/campaigners, academia, NGOs, policy-makers, media, and grassroots representation e.g waste pickers to become a part of the coalition.

Key takeaways

1. The platform expects the government to integrate waste pickers in the formal waste management system and recognize their efforts in reviving the circular Economy with formal measures of social protection. 

2. The platform expects the government  to  invest in solutions that  work for people and planet  and that will  help in achieving a zero waste society, economic recovery and job creation in Kenya

3. The platform expects the government to work towards the banning of waste incineration which leads to a green recovery.

4. The platform expects the government to  break Free from plastics  by enacting policies that drastically reduce plastic production and consumption

5. The platform expects the government to put local communities first by ensuring transparency in how projects are implemented and how taxpayer money is used to promote sustainability.

 

Overheard at the meeting

“Recycling is not enough, it’s time to rethink how to solve the plastic waste crisis.” 

– Griffins Ochieng, Executive Director at Centre for Environment Justice and Development

“When we started the Africa Is Not a Dumpster campaign our main goal was to request the government not to accept the trade deal that was in place….at that time our voice was weak because we’re alone but with the CSO we trust that our voice will be strong.” 

– Kaluki Paul, Co-founder at Kenya Environment Action Network KEAN

“Why do we have a lot of plastics in Kenya and some single materials in our park yet there is a rule banning them entering the park?

– Caroline Kibii, EnviroWild 

“It’s time civil society joins hands to lobby and have a seat in policy-making forums to promote a sustainable environment.” 

– Mr. Christopher Murithi, Embulbul Environment Waste Management

“We need a transition to work together and have a strong voice in addressing plastic pollution in Kenya.” 

– Batterman Simidi, Clean Up Kenya

“It’s time to involve religious organizations in the fight since they interact with people and have the power to influence them in making right decisions.” 

– John Henry, Africa Nazarene University

Thank you to Patricia M Kombo for providing this report. 

 

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