A local conservation group in Watamu has won an international award for economic growth, social development and environmental protection in Kenya. The United Nations Seed Award Winners 2011 with focus on African entrepreneurs was awarded to Watamu Community Solid Waste Management and Recycling Enterprises for its achievement in innovation and entrepreneurship skills in the community at a ceremony held in South Africa last month..
This follows the successful cooperation between Watamu community oganisations and the local marine tourism industry in creating a plastic recycling value chain, making use of the waste to generate income and create a pollution free environment.. Constance Hybsier, programme manager in the UNEP seed award said they had a special focus on Africa, placing particular emphasis on initiatives from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
In a press release she said the focus is part of a larger project linked with UNEP's Green Economy Initiative, which is funded largely by the European Union's Green Economy and Social and Environmental Entrepreneurship in Africa. "The annual international SEED Awards, which is part of the SEED Initiative, recognise inspiring social and environmental entrepreneurs whose grassroots businesses in developing countries can help meet sustainable development challenges," she said. She said the SEED initiative hosted at the UN Environment Programme's World Conservation Monitoring Centre was a global partnership for action on the Green Economy.
Hybsier said the SEED initiative aims at boosting local economies, tackle poverty and improve livelihoods while promoting the sustainable use of resources and ecosystems. "The Award winners will receive from SEED a package of individually-tailored support for their businesses, access to relevant expertise and technical assistance, and profiling at national and international level at conferences and through the SEED's partners and associates," she said.
She said 2011 SEED award proposals had applications from 76 countries, representing the collaborative efforts of non-governmental organisations, women and youth groups, labour organisations, public authorities, international agencies and academia. "Most of the applications were in the agricultural and rural development sectors as well as in energy and climate change, ecosystem management and biodiversity. Many entries at the same time addressed micro-enterprise development, IT applications and education and training," she said.
Since 2009 when the Watamu enterprise was formed the organisations has been engaging in beach cleaning and collection of tones of plastic wastes to create a clean environment. Steve Trot the chairman of the Watamu Marine Association which is the umbrella NGO coordinating the enterprise said the idea was meant to recycle all plastic wastes and sell them to plastic manufacturing industry and create curio materials from rubber wastes collected in the beaches for sale to tourists. Trot said they have received a recycling machine from donors to recycle all the plastic materials collected weekly from the beaches and hotels.