In Summary

•There is a concern that continued accumulation could endanger these forests and the ecological and human communities depending on them.

•Lamu environmentalist Aki Skanda said there is a concern about the increased accumulation of plastic waste in mangroves. 

Pileup of plastic waste among Lamu mangroves.
Pileup of plastic waste among Lamu mangroves.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES

@ppcheti

Plastic waste pollution in the ocean is threatening mangrove forests in Lamu, a situation that threatens their existence.

Affected areas with high mangrove populations include Mokowe, Manda, Mkanda, Pate, Kizingitini, Faza, Kiwayu, Matondoni, Kipungani, Wiyoni, Mkokoni and Kiunga across the Lamu archipelago.

Although mangroves adapt to plastic debris, too much can kill them.

There is a concern that continued accumulation could endanger these forests and the ecological and human communities depending on them.

Lamu environmentalist Aki Skanda said there is a concern about the increased accumulation of plastic waste in mangroves. 

This is despite a national ban on plastics imposed in 2017 outlawing the manufacturing, sale and distribution of plastic carrier bags.

In June 2020, the government initiated a ban on the usage of single-use plastics in protected areas.

Skanda and other environmentalists questioned why despite all these measures, the number of plastic waste continues to increase rather than decrease.

He said poor waste disposal especially plastics among the Lamu public, poses a major challenge to mangrove degradation in the region.

“Whatever is dumped into the ocean eventually finds its resting place among the mangrove forests. The thousands of plastics from across Lamu have ended up in the mangroves,” Skanda said.

Lamu has a mangrove cover of 33,500 hectares which translates to close to 60 per cent cover of Kenya’s entire mangrove population.

Together with other environmentalists, Skanda has called on the county government to formulate by-laws that will prosecute and fine people littering the ocean.

He said there is a need for concerted efforts in tackling the issue of plastic waste pollution in the country.

Skanda, a co-founder of the Taka Taka foundation, says the organisation does frequent beach and mangrove cleanups to reduce the number of plastics.

“We plead with our people to stop throwing plastics in the ocean because it affects mangroves, ” he said.

Taka Taka co-founder Abdul Baabad said mangroves act as a coastal defence, carbon sink and nursery for marine life.

“They’re under threat from this plastic menace. We must save our mangrove forests by banning plastics and setting up effective and sustainable recycling systems,” he said.

Edited by Kiilu Damaris

Pileup of plastic waste among Lamu mangroves.
Pileup of plastic waste among Lamu mangroves.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES
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