By Emily Mikwa
Kisumu residents yesterday converged at Dunga beach to witness the launch of clean oceans awareness campaign dubbed Flipflopi Nam Lolwe festival of innovation and Artivism.
The four day event marked with innovative and artistic technologies on environmental conservation, show cased the flipflopi project, the very first world plastic recycled dhow and a Kenyan initiative built at the coastal region in lamu among other artistic works made from hyacinth weed.
Kisumu Governor, Professor Nyong’o joined by his counterpart from Homa Bay Governor Awiti in the company of invited dignitaries led the team in sensitizing the residents in understanding the need to restore the polluted lake Victoria that matters to the residents’ lives.
While addressing the people, Governor Nyong’o lauded the move of elimination of the single use plastics from the rivers and lakes as timely. He reiterated that he is delighted to be a trusted partner in this initiative.
The Governor acknowledged the idea of bringing all countries bordering the rivers and lakes on board to ensure rivers such as Nzoia, Yala, Nyando among agricultural practices do not export plastics in to the lake.
He further thanked the innovators for recycling waste into useful equipment which would otherwise be chocking the aquatic life in the rivers and lakes and causing massive floods in Nyando, Nyakach and muhoroni
Kisumu county has adopted plastic ban and with the development of Environment and climate policy, the county has partnered with UNEP and UN Habitat in mitigating climate change challenges through afforestation.
The county is also developing a vibrant metropolis facing the lake through the lake Front Development committee chaired by the former Auditor general, Mr. Edward Ouko. It is designed to be non- motorized to encourage people to walk and cycle along the beaches.
The Governor also noted the worrying trend of improper disposal of pampers and sanitary towels that find their way into the rivers and the lake. He proposed that an alternative of cotton made material that is degradable is the direction the country should take.
The Deputy High Commissioner UK, Julius Court on his part advocated for personal responsibility at one’s backyard in ensuring that our surrounding is free of single use plastics among other pollutants as the message gradually extends regionally.
The CEO Nation Media Mr. Stevenson Gitagama promised to rally the media in sensitizing the people on personal responsibility in cleaning the environment following the footsteps of the late Professor Wangari Mathai.
Dipesh Pabari, one of the founders of Flip flopi project said the initiative started four years ago in Lamu, an indication that we have to start doing things differently.
“The boat which is built purely from tons of takataka (waste), has sailed 500 km from Lamu to Zanzibar and now it is in Lake Victoria showing how valuable waste can be” said Dipesh.
He further stated that their key purpose for coming to Kisumu is to escalate the conservation message upstream since Lake Victoria being the second fresh water lake in the world, supports 40million people in the region but it suffers from pollution and plastic pollution as well.
The wake-up call to work together as a region took center stage in the speeches, hence the team has expressed intent to sail the boat around Lake Victoria to solicit support from county governments, among other key stakeholders such as United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), European Union (EU) and French develop agency, forming a movement that brings partners together on board to conserve the lake.
The event was graced by The Deputy Kisumu County Dr. Mathew Owili and his counterpart from Siaya Dr. James Okumbe, Regional director UNEP, Dr Juliet Blao, Mr. Amos Christopher from LVBC, Natalie from Afd, Christine Boit from KWS, CECs, and a host of top officials from the County Government of Kisumu.