The Aga Khan University’s Graduate School of Media Communication (GSMC) has produced a documentary that examines the effect of plastic debris in Kenya’s white sand beaches at the Coast.
The institution screened the documentary titled 'Giving Nature a Voice', during a conference on Thursday that brought together environmental stakeholders from both the government and the private sector.
The director of Environmental Reporting Programme at the GSMC Andrew Tkach, said that the region has rich talent that can produce quality film work to help combat some of the regional challenges such as pollution.
“It’s not just the BBC or CNN [who] can produce great documentaries. We must localise solutions for our local environmental issues. That is why we have worked with regional film makers,” said Tkach.
In one of the episodes titled Plastics are forever, the 30 minute film shows efforts by coastal communities in Malindi, Watamu and Mombasa to recycle plastic waste for better beaches and marine life.
The documentary will be aired on NTV on Sunday December 10.
During the event, stakeholders scrutinised the current state of plastic pollution in Kenya and the effect of the ban on plastic bags effected by the government in August.
According to the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), the ban has so far been successful.
“Kenyans embraced the ban with a lot of positivity. The Kenya Association of Manufacturers also cooperated with us. We will continue to engage all the stakeholders to come up with even more effective ways of addressing plastic pollution in Kenya,” said Dr Charles Lange, the deputy director for environmental planning and research at Nema.
The campaign by Aga Khan University aims to create awareness among Kenyans about the environmental impact of reckless disposal of plastic waste. This, the organisers of the project said, will protect Kenya’s water bodies from pollution in a bid to save coastal tourism while preventing flooding in towns, majorly caused by clogged drainage systems.
Studies show that plastic waste in water bodies prevent growth of coral reefs while littered beaches are an eyesore and keep tourists away.
“We have to begin by doing the most basic thing – stop releasing flip flops, plastic bottles and other inorganic clutter into the waters. It is also time to embrace technological solutions that can help preserve this delicate future by thinking about the bearing it has on our families, fishermen and, ultimately, humanity,” said Tkach.
According to Statista, a leading German statistics company, the world produced 322 million metric tonnes of plastics in 2015, compared to only 0.35 million metric tonnes produced in 1950.
Of these plastics, five to eight million metric tonnes end up in the world’s oceans every year. Only five percent of all plastics produced in the world are effectively recycled.
Experts warn that if this trend continues unchecked, there will be more plastics than fish in the world’s seas and oceans by the year 2050.
Another study titled ‘To eat or not to eat’ published in 2012, shows that the waste in oceans affects about 267 different species of marine wildlife including turtles, fish and plants.
The study estimates that about 100,000 aquatic animals die every year after eating plastic. An estimated one million others suffocate while trying to swallow plastics.
Others are entangled in fishing nets that have been abandoned at sea by fishermen.
Fishermen at Kenya’s Coast have been complaining about low catch, a trend that marine researchers attribute to pollution in the ocean.