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Lake Basins in Kenya provide a unique socio-ecological contexts with several environmental challenges, including coastal litter from urban centers, households and tourism. This litter is washed through surface run offs, slopes, and rivers to become beach and coastal pollution thus compromising the integrity and wellbeing of the Lakes and their basins. With the ideal of a litter free coastal environment, the Kenya Lake Debris Volunteer Programme (KLDVP) has been formed through a collaborative agreement by stakeholders involved in marine environment conservation in Kenya to provide a voice for the aquatic environment. The secretariat of this social action programme will be hosted at KMFRI-Kisumu and will spearhead mobilization of volunteers to get out to their local beaches and help limit the litter problem by cleaning up garbage along the beaches and banks.

The Director KMFRI (Prof. James Njiru) officially signing the KLDVP programme document which signaled the official launch (Standing from left: Miss Michelle Muchilwa (Student, White Oaks School), Ms. Millicent Muchilwa (Director, White Oaks Ltd, and Master Jeremy Muchilwa (Student, White Oaks School)

While participating in the cleaning, volunteers will go beyond picking up trash to record each item collected on a standardized data form in order to identify ways of eliminating coastal litter in the future. In addition, apart from cleaning up the coastlines, they will also educate participants and the public on the importance of keeping the coast free of debris in order to influence positive behavioral change and to encourage greater interest and eventual participation in beach cleanups. The cumulative result is not only a cleaner and healthier coastline but also a raised consciousness for accessible actions that people can integrate into their lives in order to promote healthy beaches on a daily basis.

By bringing on board like-minded institutions and individuals to synergize efforts and mobilize resources, this programme also helps to build networks of environmentally-conscious individuals who seek to bring about positive changes in their communities, cities and countries. Based on institutional profiling, many organizations and individuals have been identified as key players in contributing to sustainable and clean coastal development within the Lake Victoria Basin as envisaged in Kenya’s Vision 2030. With everyone’s collaboration, it is envisaged that this engagement and support will enable the programme to expand her outreach and coverage to all partner states within the basin in the very near future.