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International Collaboration spells success: 2021 World Ocean Day in Kenya

For this year’s World Ocean Day, Eco-Ethics Kenya teamed up with a host of other ocean stakeholders. More than 13 officials drawn from government, civil society and private sector assisted to organise the celebrations. Since April 9, the officials held meetings at Kenya Coast Tourist offices in Mombasa culminating to a colourful World Ocean Day celebration on eighth of June.

This year’s theme - The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods - guided the day’s activities. The Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the Kenyan government restricted the celebrations to 50 people, when we would gather hundreds in earlier occasions.

As usual, we also planned two pre-WOD activities. The most common one is prepping the young stars of our Eco-Clubs to participate in an international essay and art contest for Mundus maris Awards. This year, Eco-Ethics was among the partners of the Belgium based Mundus maris organisation. Sixteen students participated and two students impressed the International Jury bagging a cash award of €30 each. All participants got an honorary diploma for their active support for ocean awareness and protection.

The other pre-activity was a mangrove planting exercise at Kidongo Beach along Mtwapa Creek. The exercise coincided with the World Environment Day marked on 5th June. Remarkably, 50 participants helped in planting a record 5,000 mangrove seedlings. Mombasa County Director of Environment from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), who was the chief guest, graced the occasion.

We need to partner and collaborate in a bid to conserve our oceans and environment even as we enter the UN decade on Ecosystem Restoration. This is a rallying call for the protection and revival of ecosystems all around the world, for the benefit of people and nature,” said the Director, Mr. Lopokoiyit.

Meanwhile, the ban on public gatherings coaxed the planning committee to get creative. The gist of such an international day is to disseminate as much information on ocean ecosystems to a wide population and to combine awareness raising with action. This is why we organised a beach clean up in partnership with Mombasa Beach Management Unit and joint press briefing of all ocean stakeholders in Mombasa County.

And that worked as more than 15 national and regional media houses turned up. Together, they reach over a million people. In fact, this was one of the most publicised World Ocean Day celebrations ever since we started.

Members of the Planning Committee who addressed the media included Mercy Mghanga, an Executive Member of Beach Management Unions Association, Kenya, and Syria Karisa, a Research Officer at Kenya Wildlife Service. Others include the Director of Environment at NEMA Office in Mombasa, Mr. Lopokoiyit, and a representative from the Directorate of Marine Environment, Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA).

The press briefing was live on three national TV channels: Citizen, TV 47 and KTN, including a slot in prime-time bulletins for the day.

Three organisations set up special exhibitions for the occasion: Spire Life Saving Limited active in water sports, the National Museums of Kenya sharing insights on underwater archeology, and Morganics Company displaying how they manufacture fertilizer from seaweeds.

The day’s success was a testament to how collaboration among ocean economy stakeholders can help catalyse the ambition towards a healthy and sustainable ocean. The significant financial and moral support received from Mundus maris also made the day feel international and most importantly, a humbling moment for us as the World Ocean Day Planning Committee in Mombasa. We say, thank you for the edifying cooperation!

Photos by Brian Gicheru.