The Kwale based Australian mining firm, Base Titanium in partnership with Kwale Plastic Plus Collectors (KPPC) have launched a campaign to spruce up numerous tourist attraction sites in the county through a programme dubbed ‘trash for money’ or simply ‘T4C’.
The programme is running alongside the National Hygiene Programme (NHP) ‘Kazi Mtaani’ championed by the national government with the objective of cushioning the jobless youth during the coronavirus pandemic.
A thousand youth have been hired in Kwale to take part in the Kazi Mtaani project where they earn a daily wage of Sh600, while undertaking duties such as street cleaning, fumigation, disinfection, garbage collection, drainage unclogging and bush clearing among other tasks.
Base Titanium community relations manager Pius Kassim said the trash for money campaign was conceived as a social response to the covid-19 pandemic, with the aim of helping the youth earn money in a declining economy and clean up the environment especially public spaces and tourist spots.
Kassim said the programme had started at Diani municipality, a thriving tourism hub before the covid-19 outbreak dealt the tour and travel industry a big blow.
“Since last month we have been supporting youth to clean and spruce up the tourist resort town of Diani in a programme dubbed trash for cash,” he said in an interview on Wednesday.
He said the programme has so far seen more than 5,600 kgs of trash collected along the Mombasa-Lunga Lunga highway and along the sandy and pristine shores of the Diani beach.
Kassim who is leading the mining firm’s covid-19 response urged residents to embrace the cleanup campaign, saying it would help reduce unhygenic conditions that breed diseases.
Susan Scull-Carvalho, Project Development Advisor at Kwale Plastics Plus Collectors who is spearheading the environmental cleanup effort said the daily wages paid to the laborers means a lot to the participants and their families during this difficult economic times.
He said 25 youth are currently taking part in the environmental cleanup campaign but announced plans are afoot to increase the number as more partners come on board.
The trash for cash exercise included the cleaning of gutters, weeding, sweeping, gathering and loading onto country trucks for disposal at designated zones.
“As of now we are sure the programme will continue since we have adequate funds to keep the programme going,” she said.
“Courtesy of Base Titanium the participants have jackets, gloves, facemasks, rakes, shovels and wheelbarrows,” she said.
She added, “We estimate the daily payments enable the availability of food for over 1,000 individuals per month.”
On Wednesday the trash for cash team carried out a clean-up along two of Diani’s popular beach areas of Watatu Watano and Bidu Badu beaches where 165 kgs of rubbish was collected.
Susan said pollution of the ocean by plastic and trash is an all too common sight with devastating marine implications.
She said the trash for cash is an ambitious project of clearing the beaches along Diani, which has in recent years been voted the best beach destination in Africa, of plastic rubbish and turning the marine trash into something of worth.
“It’s a win-win project that has been appreciated by many people who have witnessed its implementation and impact,” she said.
According to the World Atlas nearly 513 million tons of plastics end up in the oceans every year threatening the globe, and beaches full of plastic garbage are unattractive to tourists.
Along the coast line from Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu counties the sandy beaches are littered with plastics that have washed up from the ocean.
But Susan Scull-Carvalho says the cleaning effort by T4C in Kwale aims to change this sorry situation.
By Hussein Abdullahi